Donald Trump The Saudi Apologist

President Trump is serving as a knowing apologist for a despotic regime.

While the evidence against the Saudi government in the disappearance and apparent death of Jamal Khashoggi continues to mount, the President of the United States appears to be taking on the role of the chief defender of the Saudi government:

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Trump administration pushed back on Tuesday against rising condemnation of Saudi Arabia and showed support for its crown prince, who has been linked to the disappearance and possible murder of a leading dissident journalist inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

In his strongest language to date over the missing journalist, President Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press: “Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Hours earlier, Mr. Trump’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arrived in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, smiling and shaking hands with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr. Pompeo issued a statement saying Saudi leaders had promised a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” into what had befallen the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, after he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo also said the Saudi leaders had repeated their emphatic denials of any involvement in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

After days of leaks by Turkish officials that accused Saudi Arabia of sending a hit squad to kill Mr. Khashoggi and dismember him with a bone saw, this was the latest indication that the Trump administration would help its top Arab ally defuse an international crisis.

The administration’s moves have come as criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed has intensified — including by Republican members of Congress, business leaders and human rights officials — over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and apparent murder.

Saudi Arabia also took steps on Tuesday to please the White House. Just as Mr. Pompeo met with Saudi leaders, a long-promised Saudi pledge of $100 million to help American aid efforts in Syrian areas liberated from the Islamic State was deposited in State Department accounts.

Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Pompeo provided any new insights into what had happened to Mr. Khashoggi. But with his comment about presumed guilt, Mr. Trump drew a parallel to the sexual assault accusations made against his newest Supreme Court justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Mr. Trump’s reference to the bitter confirmation battle over Justice Kavanaugh was telling. In that case, he initially took a restrained tone, observing that the judge’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, appeared credible in her testimony before the Senate about an alleged sexual assault.

But over time, as the furor threatened to irreparably tarnish his nominee, Mr. Trump discarded restraint. He complained that Justice Kavanaugh had been unfairly accused, raised questions about Dr. Blasey’s account, and even mocked her at a rally.

In the case of Mr. Khashoggi, Mr. Trump first expressed concern about the allegations and warned of severe consequences if the Saudi government were found responsible. But after days of unconvincing denials from the Saudis and growing evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed or his family may have been involved, Mr. Trump is shifting to a tone of defiance.

There are signs that Mr. Trump’s defense of Mr. Kavanaugh appealed to his political base, and may even have boosted the prospects of Republicans in the midterm elections. But a Saudi prince is different from a Supreme Court nominee, and unlike in Justice Kavanaugh’s case, there could yet be conclusive evidence of a heinous crime.

Mr. Khashoggi was last seen entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul seeking marriage documents. Speaking anonymously, Turkish officials say they have evidence he was killed within two hours of entering the consulate by a team of Saudi agents.

“Answers will be forthcoming shortly,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter, relaying that he had spoken with Crown Prince Mohammed on a phone call that also included Mr. Pompeo.

Prince Mohammed, Mr. Trump said, “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate.”

The crown prince “has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter,” the president said.

Speaking to reporters in Riyadh early Wednesday before departing for Turkey for talks with its top officials, Mr. Pompeo said Saudi leaders had promised him a complete and transparent investigation. “They made a commitment that they would show the entire world the results of their investigation,” he said. “They also made a commitment they would get this done quickly.”

Asked if the Saudis told him whether Mr. Khashoggi was alive, Mr. Pompeo declined to answer. “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts,” he said. “They didn’t want to either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.”

The Washington Post has more about the extent of the President’s excuse making for the Saudis:

President Trump offered embattled Saudi Arabia a suggestion of support Tuesday amid mounting pressure over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the kingdom is being judged “guilty until proven innocent.”

The remarks, in an interview with the Associated Press, put Trump widely out of step with many world leaders amid Turkish assertions that Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team this month after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

They also could complicate talks planned Wednesday between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish leaders on the Khashoggi case.

“Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Trump told the AP, comparing the situation to allegations of sexual assault leveled against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

Trump has shifted his views several times since Khashoggi — a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident — was last seen in public Oct. 2.

Trump last week said that Saudi Arabia would face “severe punishment” if the kingdom was found to have a link to Khashoggi’s apparent death. But he appeared to reject possible sanctions, claiming they could harm the United States’ deep defense industry ties with Saudi Arabia.

(…)

Pompeo was in Riyadh on Tuesday to hear an entirely different account: Another round of denials from Saudi rulers.

In a statement, Pompeo said the crown prince pledged “a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see.” But Pompeo gave no details on the possible findings or when such a report could be issued.

Earlier, Trump tweeted that the crown prince “told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.” Trump, too, did not elaborate.

President Trump has also taken to Twitter regarding the Khashoggi matter this week, and his statements constitute little more than a regurgitation of the Saudi government line:

As Jennifer Rubin put it this morning, “It’s tough to think of another president who autocrats snowed with such ease.” Trump’s response to all of this is not entirely surprising, of course. As I noted yesterday, this is a man who has a long established history of pandering to and making excuses for dictators and their violations of human rights both at home and abroad. He has dismissed the fact that the leader of North Korea has the blood of thousands on his hands, and instead has complimented on what was nothing other than a brutal and murderous rise to power at such a young age. This includes not only the oppression of ordinary North Korean citizens but also the extent to which he has reached out to eliminate potential threats to his power inside North Korea’s leadership such as his Uncle and his own Half-Brother. He has dismissed the fact that the leader of Russia has killed and imprisoned dissidents and journalists critical of his regime, and the fact that he reached out to attempt to kill a former Russian spy on the soil of a loyal American ally. And he has praised the leader of China on the ruthless moves that have allowed him to attain unquestioned power and essentially make himself President for life, even suggesting that it would be a great idea for the United States to give that a try.

In the past, of course, American Presidents have often been forced, or think they were forced, to look the other way when supposed allies committed human rights violations. This was especially prevalent during the Cold War when the belief was that we needed to keep these nations within our orbit in order to battle the spread of Soviet influence around the world. On many occasions that support has ended up backfiring on us spectacularly, most notably in several nations in Central and South America, in Cuba, and of course in Iran after the downfall of the Shah. During this time period, many American Presidents looked the other way while leaders such as the Shah, Augusto Pinochet, and others violated human rights on a regular basis based on the logic that ‘he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.’ Even while we were engaging in those policies, though, there was at least a subtle acknowledgment that we were backing some really bad actors in the name of broader national security interests.

That isn’t the case with this President. As I’ve noted repeatedly, this President has an utter fascination with authoritarian rulers ranging from al-Sisi in Egypt all the way up the scale to Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, and of course the leadership of Saudi Arabia. Because of this, it’s rather obvious that Trump is going to accept whatever ridiculous explanation the Saudis come up with regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi and that he will defend them and use that defense as an excuse not to take any significant action against the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, the Royal Family, or Saudi business interests around the world. It’s also worth noting that Trump is responding to the allegations against the Saudis in the same manner that he did last year to the accusations against Roy Moore and the way he did last month regarding the allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. In each of those cases, the mere fact that the accused had issued self-serving denials that provided nothing. The Saudis are basically doing the same thing, and the President is dutifully repeating their propaganda. I’d call it shameful, but with this President, it’s just standard operating procedure.

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is on the Saudi payroll. They flatter him and they bail him out, and Trump is to flattery and cash like a hillbilly is to fentanyl. Like a fly to a dog turd. Like a Catholic priest to an altar boy. He is helpless to resist, and since no one understands Trump’s weakness better than other psychopaths, Trump likes dictators.

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  2. CSK says:

    If it comes down to it, Trump can just say what his oldest son and supporters have already said: Khashoggi was a terrorist plant supplying intelligence to ISIS. And since Khashoggi also worked for the enemedia WaPo, good riddance to bad rubbish.

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  3. Doug Nishimura says:

    Trumps acceptance of explanations comes down to a few unflattering and non exclusive reasons:

    a. He is so unfocused he accepts the last thing he heard on any given topic.
    b. He sees acceptance of a ridiculous denial as something that people should do for him, so he does it for other similarly situated leaders (see Putin, Vladimir and “we didn’t hack”).
    c. He is compromised by the Saudis (see also Putin, Vladimir).
    d. He has no real knowledge or curiosity to discover facts.

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  4. Mister Bluster says:

    @Doug Nishimura:..He has no real knowledge….

    “Like an 11-year-old child”— Steve Bannon.
    “The White House has become an adult day care center”—Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee
    “Less a person than a collection of terrible traits”—Trump’s former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
    “…a fvcking moron”–Rex Tillerson Secretary of State

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Doug Nishimura:
    The one thing we can be sure of is that the explanation is never: for the good of the country.

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  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @CSK:

    And since Khashoggi also worked for the enemedia WaPo, good riddance to bad rubbish.

    So, you are saying that foreign state-sponsored murder of US residents is good with you?

    This is way beyond a slippery slope position.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Where are our resident sycophants?
    I want to see how they justify the weakness of their Dear Leader.
    The cut Khashoggi’s fingers off.
    They beheaded him.
    If you voted for Dennison you voted for this, because you voted for a weak, easily manipulated, incompetent, and greedy fool.

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  8. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    No. I’m quoting what Donald Trump’s Fan Club is saying.

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  9. Kathy says:

    This is so ridiculous.

    Let’s get down to hard facts:

    Khashoggi was seen going into the Saudi consulate. He was never seen to come out. Therefore he’s either still in there, or he has been sneaked out without anyone noticing. Either way, he’s either dead or alive. And Either way, the Saudis know exactly what his fate was. There’s no need for them to investigate anything. there’s no presumption of innocence, seeing as they are evidently responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance.

    At the very least, Trump should be demanding answers. He should not be letting the Saudis run the show.

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  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @CSK:

    Thank you. That wasn’t clear.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Would a comma have helped you to see that the last 2 sentences were one linked thought?

    And example of why the “grammar rule” was “don’t start a sentence with ‘and’.”

  12. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Where are our resident sycophants?
    …The cut Khashoggi’s fingers off.
    They beheaded him.

    Not a sycophant, but a little skepticism wouldn’t hurt. For one, you’re trusting accounts you have no ability to corroborate. You don’t need to think Khashoggi is still alive to scratch your head, asking, “Now why would they cut off his fingers?”

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I ignore that rule freely. It’s a useful pacing trick. Starting a sentence with ‘and’ impels the reader forward. Done after a comma it has less impact than it does following a full stop. I want the reader to stop, think they’re done, see the ‘and’ and keep going.

    Run-on sentences are something I use for other reasons, generally in action scenes as a way to leave the reader feeling breathless.

    I also ignore all rules having to do with what is and what is not a paragraph. Sentence fragments. Rules of punctuation, which, fortunately I never really learned to begin with. Sentences that start and end oddly. In-appropriate M-dashes. Sound effects. I’ve built a career as a write on a basis of almost total ignorance of the rules.

    My only grammar rule is: did I have the effect I wanted to have? That’s very different from the way a reporter o an engineer writes. I’m conveying data, yes, but also manipulating the way that data is received on an emotional level. I don’t just want to say 2+2=4, I need that data to be meaningful at an emotional level.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Why would you cut off fingers? Same reason you knock out teeth. It complicates identification of a body. It’s not easy to incinerate a whole 200 pound bunch of meat, but quite easy to burn fingers.

    Khashoggi enters consulate. A dozen Saudi agents directly tied to MBS arrive and enter consulate, including one guy who is an autopsy specialist armed with a bone saw. Khashoggi never emerges from said consulate. When questioned the Saudis offer patently absurd lies.

    Actually there is very little room for skepticism.

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Michael Reynolds: I deliberately break the rule and start sentences with “And” regularly. Didn’t Strunk and White have a rule about write it the way you’d say it?

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Now why would they cut off his fingers?”

    To cause pain.

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  17. PJ says:

    Saudi Arabia also took steps on Tuesday to please the White House. Just as Mr. Pompeo met with Saudi leaders, a long-promised Saudi pledge of $100 million to help American aid efforts in Syrian areas liberated from the Islamic State was deposited in State Department accounts.

    How much was deposited in Trump’s accounts?

  18. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Why would you cut off fingers? Same reason you knock out teeth. It complicates identification of a body.

    Yeah, but we’re not talking about some serial killer trying to hide their crimes from the police. We’re talking about spies. A cover story could, in theory, explain why Khashoggi’s intact dead body showed up in a dumpster outback of the Istanbul Starbucks.

    The Saudis: “I don’t know what happened to him. Looks like a Turkish criminal got him. Nothing to do with us.”

    The “kill him and cut him up” gambit is something a screenwriter would come up with, and for no other reason than it would be more “cinematic.”

    To be clear, I’m pretty sure the Saudis killed him. They just did it…weirdly.

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  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Just for the record, I once again note that Pearce’s position on this is exactly the same as our resident right wing nut jobs, but presented in a more reasonable tone.

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m pretty sure the Saudis killed him. They just did it…weirdly.

    Something we agree on, although I would have phrased it, “They just did it with monumental stupidity.” Why did they do it in their consulate? Flying in 15 people in a most traceable way and then flying them back out the same way? Plausible deniability went right out the window with that gambit. They could have killed him a hundred different ways in a thousand other locations and the chances of being directly linked to the murder would have been far lower. All they needed was plausible deniability.

    Dissidents would have still gotten the message tho.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Actually there is very little room for skepticism.

    What a limited imagination you have!

    Khashoggi shows up to the embassy to fill out some paperwork, and suddenly dies of an aneurysm. It happens.

    Oddly, it happened on the same day that an entirely unrelated Saudi death squad had entered Istanbul, bone saw in hand. They were there to perform an extrajudicial killing of someone who wasn’t a Washington Post reporter, or an American resident — someone no one would care about. Probably a jihadist.

    Knowing that they would be blamed for Khashoggi’s death at the embassy, the consulate decides to try to cover it up, and remove all evidence that Khashoggi was even there. And, recent events have born this concern out — everyone assumes they were responsible.

    So, they use the available death squad to saw up the body for transportation. To cover the noise, they turn on the TV and play a video, which happens to be of someone having their fingers cut off, being brutally beheaded and cut into pieces. It’s a very popular movie among the Saudi elite. The only other video they had was The Little Mermaid, and that was considered pornographic since she wasn’t wearing a burka — they have to talk to someone about that.

    The death squad leaves with small packages in their luggage, and the video of The Little Mermaid, which they turned over to the Saudi police.

    See? It all makes perfect sense. For evidence, they can probably present a copy of The Little Mermaid, unless they have already burnt it.

    Perfectly likely, I don’t see why anyone would need to investigate further, not when they just wired $100M to our favorite charity yesterday, and are a regular purchaser of American military equipment and bone saws made in a swing state.

    Meanwhile, the Turks are just trying to cause trouble.

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  22. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sentence fragments.

    I hate that rule. For one thing, people use them in ordinary speech.

    It also reminds me of this scene:

    Linguo: Sentence fragment.
    Lisa (annoyed): “Sentence fragment” is also a sentence fragment.
    Linguo: [looks around] Must conserve battery power. [shuts down]

  23. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    And example of why the “grammar rule” was “don’t start a sentence with ‘and’.”

    Not really a grammar rule, more of a grammar superstition, like “Don’t split infinitives” and “Don’t end sentences with a preposition.”* (I get the fact that you put the words “grammar rule” in quotes suggests you agree with me.) Sentences starting with “and” are actually quite common in literary writing, perhaps influenced by the Bible (which I think is a carry-over from the peculiarities of Biblical Hebrew grammar, where the prefix ve, usually translated as “and,” also functions as a particle signaling a change in tense or aspect). Like anything else, it can get annoying if done excessively, but there’s nothing intrinsically “wrong” about it grammatically.

    *An oldie but a goodie:

    “Hey, where are the dorms at?”

    “At this school we do not end sentences with prepositions.”

    “Okay, where are the dorms at, asshole?”

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  24. Lounsbury says:

    @James Pearce: Jaysus mate, your act has gotten bloody rubbish. Why would they cut his fingers? This wee thing called torture, you know.

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  25. Lounsbury says:

    @James Pearce: This is the same Crown Prince who tried abducting the President of Lebanon, Saad Hariri. Never mind the blatant shake-down he pulled on taking power with the elite billionaire class, openly imprisoning them in a hotel – even by MENA standards that’s rather too 1975 and not a done thing. He has a track record of poorly thought through, impetuous actions which display a lack of understanding of the impact of his imperious whims.

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  26. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan: Just for the record, you don’t know what happened in there either, so if your “position” on this is anything other than “WTF?” you’re doing it wrong.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    They could have killed him a hundred different ways in a thousand other locations and the chances of being directly linked to the murder would have been far lower. All they needed was plausible deniability.

    I still think it’s possible that it will be revealed that they did kill him elsewhere.

    It’s certainly as plausible as– if not, more– “they started cutting off his fingers within minutes and his Apple Watch recorded all of it.”

    @Lounsbury:

    Why would they cut his fingers? This wee thing called torture, you know.

    Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of movies where that happens. Sounds really painful. But we’re not talking about Denzel acting out some screenwriter’s revenge fantasies, are we?

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    That is some first class plotting there. Despite being uncompensated and off-the-cuff, it’s still more plausible than any of the Ocean’s movies.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    This may well affect MBS’s charm offensive.*

    *My version of British understatement.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of movies where that happens. Sounds really painful. But we’re not talking about Denzel acting out some screenwriter’s revenge fantasies, are we?

    Are you seriously that clueless? Go directly to the Amnesty International site. Read a few stories.

    I say this an author notorious for showing violence and gore: we writers have nothing on reality when it comes to cruelty and brutality.

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  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Point taken. Next challenge–how do you mark the emphasis of the “and” when you write it? (I’m just guessing here, but I suspect that you would probably say those 2 sentences thusly: “Khashoggi was a terrorist plant supplying intelligence to ISIS. And since Khashoggi also worked for the enemedia WaPo, good riddance to bad rubbish.”

    What I used to teach students about interjections at the beginnings of sentences was that since they function as interjections, it was appropriate to mark the interjection with a comma, as in “well, that was certainly instructive, thank you.” The point being that we normally get one chance to make our words clear and if the communication is important–probably not the case in an internet forum, granted–it’s wise to make sure that it is clearly understood.

    @ Reynolds: So do I; which is why I noted “grammar rule” in parentheses to signal “so-called” in this case and paired it with “was” to indicate it’s status as a relic of a bygone era. BTW, yes, I am a pedant, but still in all, I will note that had, say… James Pearce, made the same statement as CSK, most of us would have simply thought “exactly, I KNEW he would be an apologist for autocrats” and moved on leaving the misimpression unrepaired. It was only because the incorrect reading seemed out of place that it prompted a response–snarky though it may have been.

  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @James Pearce:

    Just for the record, you don’t know what happened in there either, so if your “position” on this is anything other than “WTF?” you’re doing it wrong.

    So, it looks like the guy had an apple watch, and was recording to the cloud when it happened.

    A team of 15 Saudi agents, some with ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was waiting for Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate the moment he arrived, at about 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 2.

    After he was shown into the office of the Saudi consul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, the agents seized Mr. Khashoggi almost immediately and began to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers, the senior Turkish official said.

    “Do this outside. You will put me in trouble,” Mr. al-Otaibi told them, according to the Turkish official and a report in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, both citing audio recordings said to have been obtained by Turkish intelligence.

    Source: Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Turkish Official Says

    The question is, James, since it’s become obvious that you are a Trump apologist, do you personally need to be in the room now before you believe something?

    Apparently, this is the new Trump standard.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I disagree. The way they did it was to show that they don’t care about plausible deniability. MbS was specifically pulling an “in yo’ face mofo” on the world. And really, what’s the world going to do? I mean, not even DREW knows how to respond. And if the smartest guy on the planet (if not the whole universe and all parallel ones) doesn’t know what to do, how are mere mortals like Trump and the UN going to?

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Agree with you 100%, but note that in teaching grammar to novice writers, the concern with is not “correctness” but clarity. This is why advocates of functional grammar (as opposed to descriptive or proscriptive grammar) suggest that we should teach conventions rather than rules and emphasize the distortions from the pen of the writer to the mental ear of the reader.

  34. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    So, it looks like the guy had an apple watch, and was recording to the cloud when it happened.

    I’m not familiar with the Apple watch. Does it have its own internet connectivity with a SIM chip, or does it depend on a Bluetooth pairing with a phone, or to a WiFi connection?

    I say this because a Bluetooth connection is highly unlikely, as reports say Khashoggi did not bring his phone in with him. Also because the Turks have their own agenda, and might be mixing misinformation in with the rest.

    I’d question the audio recording they claim to have, too. They may have one. these days recording audio is way too easy, and I wouldn’t put it past the Turks to have a source or mole in the Saudi consulate, or a few, even (though you’d think their main efforts would be directed at the embassy, which I assume is in Ankara).

    I also don’t think it’s past them to make up a phony recording and present it as evidence, for reasons of their own.

    The identities of some in the hit squad are known, and other recordings of them might exist. Recordings of Khashoggi do exist. If there is a recording of the murder, it should be handed over intact to forensics experts for analysis

    As I’ve noted before, there is no doubt at all the Saudis caused the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi. There is ample reason to believe they murdered him, too. But the world really needs more than the unsupported word of Erdogan or his government.

  35. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: “He has a track record of poorly thought through, impetuous actions which display a lack of understanding of the impact of his imperious whims.:

    And yet, somehow Trump likes him. Go know.

  36. wr says:

    @Kathy: ” Does it have its own internet connectivity with a SIM chip, or does it depend on a Bluetooth pairing with a phone, or to a WiFi connection?”

    The most recent generation of Apple watches do have internet capability without the need of a phone.

  37. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Kathy:

    I’m not familiar with the Apple watch. Does it have its own internet connectivity with a SIM chip, or does it depend on a Bluetooth pairing with a phone, or to a WiFi connection?

    Kathy – I will preface this with “I’m an Android”… My Samsung S2 Watch (https://www.samsung.com/us/support/gear/gear-s-support/ old, by current standards) will connect to the carrier independent of my phone. I find this useful when jogging or other cases where having a phone w/ camera is not allowed.

    A quick check with Google:

    Can I record a conversation on my Apple Watch?
    You may use your iPhone to record conversations so that you can listen to them later. But, for something even more convenient, you can now do this on your wrist with a new app called iReg for Apple Watch. Simply tap to record and then listen on either your Watch or your iPhone.Dec 22, 2015

    Now is this the way it was done? I can’t say. Likely Turkey will release the specifics when they release a full transcript.

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    appleinsider has this:

    The Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4 LTE radios do not function in Turkey, at all. So, that eliminates the longest-range way that data could have been handed off to iCloud. Bluetooth is very low energy, and has nearly no penetrative power to overcome intentional RF shielding.
    And, if Khashoggi was allowed to connect to the consulate Wi-Fi, that would be one of the largest breaches of embassy RF and data security ever recorded. This seems especially improbable.
    As a result, The likelihood of the data getting passed off to the iPhone is also profoundly small.

    It also has this:

    At some point on Monday, a domain resembling AppleInsider’s was purchased, and registered in Panama. The “Appleinsider.org” domain mostly redirects to our own, at AppleInsider.com. However, one story where we talked about the rumors surrounding the murder and the Apple Watch does not.
    On Tuesday, a rework of editor Mikey Campbell’s story regarding the matter emerged on the bogus domain, which alleged that Apple CEO Tim Cook had spoken to us, and for some reason used broken English to comment on the matter.
    For the astute, like most AppleInsider readers, the language used by the perpetrators or the domain difference would have been a dead giveaway. For the less aware, as evidenced by our social media feeds, the faked quotes by Apple’s CEO could be taken as authentic.

  39. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    Thank you. Then it depends on which model Apple watch Khashoggi had.

  40. Stormy Dragon says:

    It’s pointed out that Jamal Khashoggi was originally banned from Saudi Arabia for criticizing President Trump:

    Saudi Arabia bans journalist for criticising Donald Trump

    We’re all assuming that Trump is blowing this off because he just doesn’t care. What if it’s because his administration was actively involved in the assassination?

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  41. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    That Trump, Mr Lock Her Up himself, professes concern about “guilty until proven innocent” has to be one of the least self-aware comments to ever come out of his mouth, and that’s a low, low bar to get under.

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  42. Kathy says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Kathy – I will preface this with “I’m an Android”

    I’m human 🙂

    But I prefer Android phones and tablets, too. I had an iPhone 4 briefly, and I really disliked several annoying features I couldn’t turn off. As yet, though, I’ve no “wearables” of any kind. I see no need for any, and I quit wearing a watch almost fifteen years ago.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: All the Apple Watch scenarios require Turkey to have access to Khashoggi’s iCloud account — possible, but likely only with his cooperation ahead of time. It also requires that he have started recording ahead of time — again possible, but it requires him to either routinely record Saudis, or have made a decision to record this encounter.

    I think it is just as likely that the Apple Watch story is Turkey’s way of not explaining that they have the entire consulate bugged.

    Turkey is pushing this story, and leaking out details, to hurt Saudi Arabia. They have their own goals here, and we shouldn’t forget that. They might have reason to exaggerate or just plain lie.

    Saudi Arabia has done nothing to discredit the Turks though, and they would be in a position to do so — security recording of Khashoggi leaving, for instance, or Khashoggi himself. “If you ignore the bruises, and the cigarette burns, he’s good as new!”

    I suspect the Turkish government is either slightly startled to have found something to hurt Saudi Arabia so effectively, or that they have recordings of a dozen other dissidents who were not as good victims — not WaPo reporters.

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  44. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think it is just as likely that the Apple Watch story is Turkey’s way of not explaining that they have the entire consulate bugged.

    Good point, and very likely!

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  45. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    All the Apple Watch scenarios require Turkey to have access to Khashoggi’s iCloud account — possible, but likely only with his cooperation ahead of time.

    Or just the cooperation of his fiance after he disappeared.

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  46. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I say this an author notorious for showing violence and gore: we writers have nothing on reality when it comes to cruelty and brutality.

    And yet, I can’t help but think that if the Saudis sent a 15-man team on a private jet to kill him and cut him up, with tranquilizers and bone-saw in hand, they’re not going to start cutting off his fingers. It would be…unprofessional.

    I know if I was on that team, I’d be mad at the dumbass who did that. “You’re digging the hole.”

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    The question is, James, since it’s become obvious that you are a Trump apologist, do you personally need to be in the room now before you believe something?

    I can be convinced by good information, if that’s what you’re asking.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What if it’s because his administration was actively involved in the assassination?

    Not a dumb question. Trump’s bumbling boneheadedness could certainly explain the bizarre circumstances. “You get him in the embassy, kill him, cut him up, and he’s gone. Just like that. Works every time,” says the guy who’s never done anything in his life but has seen Goodfellas ten times.

    And MBS nods, a look of contemplation on his face…

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  47. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What if it’s because his administration was actively involved in the assassination?

    I think it is more likely that the Saudis listened to Trump’s attacks on the media, and decided that they could get away with doing this without harming their relationship with their most important ally.

    Remember, much of the world doesn’t understand the US. They assume things like if the US allows speech offensive to Islam that the US condones it, or that the President speaks for the country (Congress is an afterthought), or that the President is not a babbling idiot.

    We don’t really understand them much better.

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  48. rachel says:

    @James Pearce:

    A cover story could, in theory, explain why Khashoggi’s intact dead body showed up in a dumpster outback of the Istanbul Starbucks.

    A more convenient cover story would be to have Khashoggi’s dismembered dead body showing up in various dumpsters all over Istanbul.
    1. You have the “fun” of having terrorized and tortured him before finishing him off.
    2. It’s easier to smuggle parts of a body out of the Consulate than is is to smuggle a whole body.
    3. You can blame his disappearance on whatever violent anti-Saudi group(s) present in Turkey, or possibly even embarrass Turkey’s government, which is currently allying themselves with Iran. Mohammed bin Salman would love to give Erdogan a black eye.
    4. It takes time to figure out who the body parts belong to if you dispose of any that identify the victim separately. In the meantime everybody suspects the identity of the victim and killer(s), but nobody can prove anything. Congratulations on terrorizing your critics without having the odium stuck to you!

    I doubt the hit team knew that Kashoggi’s fiance was waiting for him outside. I’m pretty sure they had not expected her to go to the authorities so quickly, which resulted in questions being asked of them before they had their story straight. I really doubt the hit squad considered that the Turks might be able to come up with video and audio evidence of their crimes (or that the Turks would be willing to potentially compromise their sources in the Consulate).

    And now they and their friends are flailing; spouting out ridiculous stories that nobody with two working neurons can believe.

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  49. James Pearce says:

    @rachel:

    You have the “fun” of having terrorized and tortured him before finishing him off.

    But also the “fun” of having to clean up that mess. We’re talking over a gallon of blood and what, two hundred pounds of meat? Even in a tiled bathroom that’s going to be difficult to clean up. In the Consul’s office? The walls would be splattered, the carpet soaked.

    Seriously, if Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered on the Consul’s conference table, his blood is soaked into the padding and subfloor right now.

    Also, I think we found the finger-cutter.

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  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Now why would they cut off his fingers?”

    Gee, I don’t know. What message would cutting a writer’s fingers off send? This wasn’t just about Khashoggi. It was a message to all journalists.
    And the POTUS is on board with that message.

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  51. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    What message would cutting a writer’s fingers off send?

    Yeah, I dunno. It’s a stretch. Are reporters and fingers so symbolically attached? Shouldn’t they have just cut his throat, squelching his “voice?”

    That strikes me as movie logic, not killer/butcher logic. They murdered him already. Isn’t that sufficient message?

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  52. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    But also the “fun” of having to clean up that mess. We’re talking over a gallon of blood and what, two hundred pounds of meat? Even in a tiled bathroom that’s going to be difficult to clean up. In the Consul’s office? The walls would be splattered, the carpet soaked.

    The Saudis bleached everything and painted all the walls during the two weeks between Kashoggi’s disappearance and Turkish investigators finally being allowed access to the consular facilities. Ditto with the Consul General’s residence.

    While the commonly-held belief that consulates and embassies are “foreign soil” is wrong, host nations still need permission to access the consular facility itself. They certainly won’t be allowed to pull up the carpet.

    The CG’s residence, however, does not enjoy the same level of diplomatic protection as the consulate itself. We can probably assume the Turks did not search it immediately because doing so would certainly have led the Saudis to deny them permission to access the consulate.

  53. rachel says:

    @James Pearce:

    But also the “fun” of having to clean up that mess. We’re talking over a gallon of blood and what, two hundred pounds of meat? Even in a tiled bathroom that’s going to be difficult to clean up. In the Consul’s office? The walls would be splattered, the carpet soaked.

    1. So what? They’re a consulate. Nobody gets in there to look around without their permission.
    2. They may not have been expecting anybody to be pointing the finger at them at all, let alone so quickly.
    3. Again, so what? Cleanup is a problem for the help.

  54. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    The Saudis bleached everything and painted all the walls during the two weeks between Kashoggi’s disappearance and Turkish investigators finally being allowed access to the consular facilities. Ditto with the Consul General’s residence.

    Is this something that’s actually known? Or is this part of the disinformation soup?

    I was reading that the Saudis did let the Turks do a full forensic analysis, which might indicate confidence in their clean-up. It might also indicate confidence that there’s nothing to find.

    @rachel:

    Cleanup is a problem for the help.

    The killers were the help. You think they’re going to get the consulate janitorial staff to clean up the blood pools?

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  55. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Numerous outlets, including the WaPo, Guardian, and Reuters have reported these things. You are free to consider them fake news if you wish.

    What is an indisputable fact is the Saudis did not allow the Turks access to either the consulate or the CG’s residence until 13 days after Kashoggi’s disappearance. A reasonably-skilled team of “cleaners” can do an awful lot in 13 days.

  56. al Ameda says:

    @One American:

    @Michael Reynolds: yeah right, Benghazi much? You seem particularly misinformed and seriously agitated over this. Typical

    The events of ‘Benghazi!’ were in no way – none whatsoever – similar to the recent events at the Saudi Consulate office in Turkey.

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  57. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Numerous outlets, including the WaPo, Guardian, and Reuters have reported these things. You are free to consider them fake news if you wish.

    I’ve read a few articles on this subject, but have seen nothing about bleach or painting the walls. I guess I’ll find them myself.

    A reasonably-skilled team of “cleaners” can do an awful lot in 13 days.

    They sure can. But would they choose 13 days of rigorous gore cleaning over a different, less labor-intensive option?

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  58. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    But would they choose 13 days of rigorous gore cleaning over a different, less labor-intensive option?

    This is, without a doubt, a very good question, but at this point we can only speculate as to the answer.

    I’ve seen speculation the Saudis did not anticipate his fiancee actually waiting outside, and therefore the very quick attention to his disappearance surprised them. I can’t imagine, though, that they believed it would go unnoticed, not for very long anyway.

    Perhaps they were, as others have said, sending a message. “Dear dissidents: here is what happens to those who speak out against the regime.” They may have considered that message “worth” the trouble of cleaning up the mess.

    We still haven’t heard the much-touted audio, although it seems to me the sources of the reporting are reliable. Of course, it’s possible he was simply killed and his intact body hidden in a place to which the Saudis can restrict access. I’m still reserving final judgment on that, but I am convinced he’s dead.

  59. mattbernius says:

    @One American:

    yeah right, Benghazi much?

    Serious question — what do you mean by this statement?

    I’m genuinely curious.

  60. rachel says:

    @James Pearce:

    The killers were the help. You think they’re going to get the consulate janitorial staff to clean up the blood pools?

    Yes, and? MbS is not inconvenienced by this. He’s a prince. A prince gives orders and the servants carry them out. If the orders are burdensome? He pays them for that. If the orders are impractical? Their problem, not his. If the orders are immoral? That is a matter between them and Allah.

    And if the orders are likely to cause blowback for him? Well, that should be his problem, but he can make it into theirs too.