Intelligence Community Directive 191—titled “Duty to Warn”—obligates U.S. intelligence agencies to inform the victim of a potential kidnapping or murder if the U.S. agency becomes aware of such a threat in the course of collecting or acquiring intelligence. Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him. It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him.
It’s unknown if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target.
A US executive branch order would have required US intelligence agencies to warn Khashoggi of the threat to kidnap or kill him.