U.S. Sen. Rand Paul filed legislation on Thursday that would cut off aid to Saudi Arabia, until a missing journalist is determined to be alive and free.
Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was last seen alive entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, and Turkish authorities believe he was murdered.
“Time and again, clear evidence have proven that sending American taxpayer support to Saudi Arabia is not in our national security interest and instead helps further destabilize the Middle East. My bill gives Congress another chance to take a stand,” the Bowling Green Republican said in a statement.
CNN reported on Thursday that the U.S. has intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, according to a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence.
The official told CNN it is unclear if the original plan was to murder Khashoggi or if something went wrong at the consulate and that he might have been killed during an attempt to kidnap him. Getting Khashoggi to the consulate appears to have been a backup plan, the source said, because he couldn't be persuaded to fly back to Saudi Arabia.
The official said there is no hard evidence as to whether Khashoggi is dead or alive.
The legislation marks the latest effort by Paul to prevent U.S. taxpayers’ support from going to a nation that has supported terrorists around the world, has a poor record on human rights, and has used questionable tactics in a war in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians dead and millions of Yemenis on the edge of famine.
Using special procedures authorized by the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, Dr. Paul has previously led bipartisan efforts to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and forced Senate votes on the issue in September 2016 and June 2017.
While the text of many bills runs hundreds or even thousands of pages, in many cases, Paul’s bill is very short, simple and to the point. Here is the entire text:
“To prohibit military aid to Saudi Arabia until the Secretary of State determines that Jamal Khashoggi is alive and free.
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
“Section 1. Restriction on Military Aid to Saudi Arabia
“The United States Government shall not provide any military aid or assistance to the Government of Saudi Arabia until the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that journalist Jamal Khashoggi is alive and free and subsequent legislation is enacted authorizing the resumption of such aid and assistance.”
No word on whether any committee hearings on the bill have been set.