Evidence Mounts Against Saudi Crown Prince In Khashoggi Murder

The evidence linking the Saudi Crown Prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi seems irrefutable.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Saudis seem intent on pushing forward a ridiculous narrative trying to absolve anyone in a position of power in the death of Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi,

The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.

But it will be difficult for the young ruler to escape scrutiny, as mounting evidence points not only to the Saudi government’s knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but also to a connection by Mohammed to his disappearance.

U.S. intelligence reports, accounts from Khashoggi’s friends, passport records and social media profiles paint a picture of a brutal killing that at least had its roots in Mohammed’s desire to silence Khashoggi, a former palace insider turned critic of the government and the prince in particular.

The analysts and officials said it was inconceivable that such a brazen operation as the one alleged by Turkish officials, involving a team of 15 agents sent to Istanbul, who then killed and dismembered Khashoggi, could have been pulled off by a group of “rogue killers,” as President Trump speculated this week, moments after a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Even one of the president’s closest advisers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said many senior members of the administration concluded more than a week ago that the Saudis had killed Khashoggi.

“The only question is, was it directed from the crown prince or the king — or was it a group that was trying to please him?” Giuliani said in an interview.

Before Khashoggi ever set foot in the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, Mohammed was trying to get his hands on him.

In recent months, the crown prince, known by his initials, MBS, ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

In September, a high-ranking Saudi official close to the prince, Saud al-Qahtani, called Khashoggi and promised him safety and the prospect of an important job working for Mohammed if he returned home, said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist and friend of Khashoggi’s.

“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’ ” Saffuri said of Khashoggi’s response.

Other friends of Khashoggi’s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of security concerns, told similar stories of calls from Riyadh on the crown prince’s behalf.

(…)

“It’s inconceivable that an operation using royal guards, other court officials and the consulate was not authorized by the crown prince. That’s not how the kingdom functions, especially with MBS as heir apparent,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an expert on Saudi Arabia and the royal family who served more than 30 years at the CIA.

“As much as the White House is eager to absolve MBS, the rogue coverup is unraveling before it’s even official,” Riedel added.

Mohammed is not considered to be the kind of leader to condone operatives’ acting outside the chain of command.

“He has a reputation as a very hands-on manager,” said Jon B. Alterman, the director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He noted that the crown prince has been directly involved in the implementation of new policies and leads an ambitious effort to diversify the Saudi economy.

“When you talk to people working on [these initiatives], the story one hears is about his attention to detail and accountability,” Alterman said.

The New York Times, meanwhile, is saying that American intelligence sources are reaching similar conclusions to their Turkish counterparts:

WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is culpable in the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an appraisal that poses challenges to a White House intent on maintaining a close relationship with the kingdom.

Intelligence agencies have not yet been able to collect direct evidence of the prince’s involvement, American and European officials said. They also have not been able to conclude whether Prince Mohammed directly ordered the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, or whether his intention was to have Mr. Khashoggi captured and taken back to Saudi Arabia, according to one official.

But intelligence agencies have growing circumstantial evidence of the prince’s involvement — including the presence of members of his security detail and intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a possible plan to detain Mr. Khashoggi, according to American officials.

Officials have also said the prince’s complete control over the security services makes it highly unlikely that an operation would have been undertaken without his knowledge.

American intelligence agencies are preparing the assessment of Prince Mohammed to present to President Trump. The work was described by a half-dozen officials on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo concluded a trip to the kingdom that failed to deliver an immediate diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

Officials said the intelligence agencies are trying to take care not to limit the White House’s policy options, and just put forward facts about the case.

Intelligence reports are only one factor that a White House must consider in concluding matters of national security. Mr. Trump could ignore the classified assessment as he decides what policies he believes are in the American interest, or decide he is unpersuaded by the intelligence.

Mr. Trump has pushed an explanation that a so-called rogue killer could be responsible for the suspected killing, but the intelligence agencies’ assessments could undermine that theory, which in any case has been widely discredited.

Mr. Pompeo’s trip to the kingdom was supposed to forge the beginnings of a diplomatic resolution.

But Mr. Pompeo’s private meeting on Tuesday with Prince Mohammed, attended by a small number of aides on both sides, was highly scripted, and he made no dramatic threats or ultimatums, said one former senior administration official who was briefed on the gathering.

Mr. Pompeo asked for an accounting of what happened and the prince, denying any involvement in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, said an investigation was underway, the official said. In the end, the official said, Mr. Pompeo’s plea to the Saudis was to complete the investigation quickly and transparently.

At the State Department’s headquarters in Washington, some diplomats were dismissive when asked about Mr. Pompeo’s mission to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

But a person familiar with the meeting said that privately, Mr. Pompeo sternly told the prince that even if he did not know whether Mr. Khashoggi had been killed, he would have to take responsibility to help the kingdom avoid the consequences of an international backlash.

This news comes as the Turks continue with an investigation that is revealing increasingly gruesome information regarding Khashoggi’s murder as well as obvious efforts by the Saudis to cover up as much evidence as they can regarding what happened on October 2nd. For example, while the Saudis did allow Turkish police to search the consulate earlier this week, that search came after they had obviously taken steps to cover up whatever forensic evidence might have been left behind. For example, it is being reported that prior to allowing the Turks to search the building a cleaning crew had worked over several areas with powerful cleaning agents, including bleach and other chemicals that would make it difficult for police to detect residual blood or other evidence. Additionally, it has been reported that many of the rooms that the Turks were granted access to had been freshly painted, which again is evidence of an effort to cover up whatever forensic evidence might have been left behind by the fifteen person team that was sent to interrogate and kill Khashoggi on the day he disappeared. Finally, the Turks were initially denied access to the home of the Saudi Counsel General, who had abruptly left the country earlier this week and were only allowed inside after that residence was the site of clean up efforts similar to those that occurred at the embassy. This is an obvious attempt at a cover-up.

Perhaps the most shocking development late yesterday, though, was the news that the Turks had released what they contend is audio of Khashoggi’s interrogation and murder, although it’s unclear how they might have obtained this:

ISTANBUL — Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.

The government of Turkey let out these and other leaks about the recordings on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ankara, in an escalation of pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the United States for answers about Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post.

The new leaks, which were also splashed in lurid detail across a pro-government newspaper, came a day after Mr. Pompeo and the Trump administration had appeared to accept at face value the promises of the Saudi rulers to conduct their own investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — regardless of Turkish assertions that senior figures in the royal court had ordered his killing.

As the Saudis and the Americans tried to put the crisis behind them, the brutality described in the leaks served as a reminder of why Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance has triggered an international backlash more severe than countless mass killings or rights violations.

As the Saudis and the Americans tried to put the crisis behind them, the brutality described in the leaks served as a reminder of why Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance has triggered an international backlash more severe than countless mass killings or rights violations.

Mr. Trump, for his part, pushed back by questioning the Turkish claims, telling reporters on Wednesday that the United States had asked for copies of any audio or video evidence of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing that Turkish authorities may possess — “if it exists.”

“I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding: “I’ll have a full report on that” when Mr. Pompeo returned. “That’s going to be the first question I ask.”

American intelligence officials say they have growing circumstantial evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, who entered the consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago to obtain a document for his coming wedding and did not emerge.

(…)

Turkish officials on Wednesday reiterated their conclusion that 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, describing the audio recordings.

Whether Mr. Khashoggi was killed before his fingers were removed and his body dismembered could not be determined.

But the consul was present and objected, the official said. “Do this outside. You will put me in trouble,” Mr. Otaibi told the agents, according to the Turkish official and a report in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak. Both cited audio recordings said to have been obtained by Turkish intelligence.

“If you want to live when you come back to Arabia, shut up,” one of the agents replied, according to both the official and the newspaper.

A top Saudi doctor of forensics had been brought along for the dissection and disposal of the body — an addition to the team that Turkish officials have called evidence of premeditation. And as the agents cut off Mr. Khashoggi’s head and dismembered his body, the doctor had some advice, according to the senior Turkish official.

Listen to music, he told them, as he donned headphones himself. That was what he did to ease the tension when doing such work, the doctor explained, according to the official describing the contents of the audio recordings.

Although several Turkish officials have described the audio recordings or other evidence related to Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance in the consulate, all have declined to disclose how the material was obtained. Some recordings or other evidence may have come from intercepted communications or audio surveillance that the Turkish government is unwilling to acknowledge for fear of compromising intelligence sources or revealing violations of international law.

But Mr. Trump’s comments suggested that the Turks have also declined to share their evidence with United States intelligence agencies, which are usually close partners. That reluctance suggests the Turkish government may be seeking to reach some accommodation with Saudi Arabia while avoiding a full rupture in relations with another important regional power.

(…)

An investigation by The New York Times revealed on Tuesday that at least four of the suspects whom Turkish officials have said played a role in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance or death have close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed, having traveled with him as members of his security team.

Those four are among 15 Saudis, including the doctor of forensics, whom the Turks have said flew into Istanbul the day of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Times has confirmed that at least nine worked for the Saudi government, military or security services.

Mr. Pompeo has declined to comment on such specifics but has expressed confidence in the promise of the king and crown prince to investigate. After flying to the capital, Ankara, to meet with Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Pompeo said repeatedly that the Trump administration was withholding judgment until seeing the results of the Turkish and Saudi investigations.

Mr. Trump, too, appeared inclined to trust the Saudis and denied that he was “giving cover” by insisting that they should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty.

Saudi Arabia “has been a very important ally,” Mr. Trump said. He noted again, as he has repeatedly since Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, that the kingdom was spending billions of dollars on American weapons.

Still, the implication that the Saudi government orchestrated Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible death has created a stigma around Crown Prince Mohammed, who runs the country.

Assuming these descriptions of what happened are correct, then it seems pretty clear that the unfolding Saudi narrative that the initial intention of what they will apparently contend was a rogue operation was to interrogate Khashoggi and, potentially, kidnap him and take him back to Saudi Arabia is even more implausible than it sounded when it was first reported. As I’ve said before, even if this story were true that hardly makes the matter any less serious. Kidnapping and torture are serious crimes, especially given the fact that the only reason Khashoggi was targeted was due to his criticisms of the Crown Prince and the Saudi government. What these and other revelations make clear, such as the identity of the members of the Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul just hours before Khashoggi showed up at the consulate and the fact that they apparently arrived with equipment such as a bone saw whose purpose seems self-evident, is that the plan all along was to murder Khashoggi and carry his body out of the country in pieces. It’s gruesome, disgusting, and something you can hardly believe would happen in the 21st Century, but here we sit with the evidence slowly coming before is that is seemingly impossible to refute. Given all this, the idea that any part of this operation could have been carried out without the knowledge and permission of the Crown Prince who has made it his business to be involved in every aspect involved in running the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia just becomes more utterly absurd by the day. The question is what, if anything, will be done to hold the Saudis generally, and Mohammed bin Salman specifically, responsible for all of this.

 

 

 

FILED UNDER: Middle East, National Security, , , ,
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. Robert C says:

    Pompeo, as Trump’s surrogate, was there to kiss the ring, not ask for justice.

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The evidence linking the Saudi Crown Prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi seems irrefutable.

    The evidence that tax cuts do not pay for themselves is irrefutable.
    The evidence that Iraq didn’t have WMD was irrefutable.
    The evidence that humans are accelerating climate change is irrefutable.
    Republicans make a living by refuting all evidence that doesn’t fit their dogma.
    Nothing is going to happen to MBS or the Saudi’s. Why? Follow the money.

    Khashoggi’s murder is a big deal, but there is a far bigger issue here. If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, no one notices. Democracy is being plucked…one feather at a time. Facists need to discredit and eliminate the press in order to sell their lies. And so Dennison and the Republicans are doing just that. The free press is just a little bit less free today. It will be a little less free tomorrow. And before you know it we will be looking around and wondering what happened to our Republic.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    This story is being Swift Boated in as blatant a fashion as any I’ve seen. By this I mean the RWNJ trolls are being riled up to engage everyone in meaningless “debates” over the minutiae of the evidence. I put that word in quotes because there is actually no effort (or even ability) to have an actual debate.

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  4. Kathy says:

    In the book, and TV series, “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan warns against making too much out of too little evidence. He offers and example of early views on Venus thus: “Observation: There is nothing to see on Venus because the surface is constantly covered by clouds. Conclusion: it must be teeming with life.”

    El Cheeto’s crack team of know-nothings, in contrast, are making too little out of too much evidence. Using Sagan’s method: “Observation: a Saudi dissident disappears inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, right after a team of 15 Saudi operatives, including four who are part of the Saudi Crown Prince’s security detail, arrived in Istanbul from Saudi Arabia in Saudi private jets, and who left shortly after directly to Saudi Arabia in the same Saudi jets. We also know the Crown Prince is involved in every aspect of the kingdom’s government, to the point that few things happen without his approval or his knowledge. Conclusion: We can’t possibly say anything at all happened, much less that the Saudis or the Crown prince are involved in any way.”

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  5. wr says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: ” If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, no one notices.”

    I’ll bet the chicken does!

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  6. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “By this I mean the RWNJ trolls are being riled up to engage everyone in meaningless “debates” over the minutiae of the evidence. ”

    Hmm. Exactly what Pearce has been doing. And he’s a disappointed liberal… isn’t he?

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  7. MikeyParks says:

    Whoever snuffed Khashoggi probably deserves a medal. He was no hero except to the Left and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MikeyParks:

    Whoever snuffed Khashoggi probably deserves a medal. He was no hero except to the Left and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    So if someone is not a hero to YOUR cause…then they deserve to be “snuffed”?
    You deserve to live in Saudi Arabia, or North Korea, or Russia…where your heroes are.
    In the US one of the founding principles is free-speech, including freedom of the press and the right to protest. Why do you hate America so much?

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  9. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I put that word in quotes because there is actually no effort (or even ability) to have an actual debate.

    What are we going to debate, Edman? Whether we should show Disney movies with no strong female characters to kids, or whether the president is conspiring with the Saudis to cover up a murder?

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    This story is being Swift Boated in as blatant a fashion as any I’ve seen. By this I mean the RWNJ trolls are being riled up to engage everyone in meaningless “debates” over the minutiae of the evidence. I put that word in quotes because there is actually no effort (or even ability) to have an actual debate.

    This must have hit close to home for you, Pearce.

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  11. Franklin says:

    @MikeyParks: Yes, we understand that someone who supported women’s rights and free speech would be an enemy of someone like you.

    Did Khashoggi have a completely Americanized view of the world? Of course not, he was raised in a different country, with much different experiences than we have.

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  12. Kathy says:

    @MikeyParks:

    Are you a hero to anyone?

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MikeyParks:
    Ah, tovarish, how is the weather today in St. Petersburg?

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Steve Mnuchin has bailed on the MBS dog and pony show, instantly invalidating the imbecilic and dishonest arguments of American Trumpaloons and Russian trolls alike.

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  15. Mister Bluster says:
  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    Whether we should show Disney movies with no strong female characters to kids, or whether the president is conspiring with the Saudis to cover up a murder?

    In case this comment appears to make absolutely no sense, let me translate.

    Someone, somewhere posted something about Disney princesses, probably in regards to an interview Kristen Bell gave (who, if you aren’t aware, is a talented-but-not-A-lister celebrity who voiced one of the characters in Frozen), or he read the actual interview himself, and now he wants the commentors of OTB to take responsibility for this egregious breach of someone sharing an opinion he doesn’t like. When pointed out that he’s the only one raising this topic, he’ll try to claim that this is actually a topic that ‘the left’ is obsessed with and he, being the Pinnacle of Reason, is obliged to call out the OTB commentors who are obsessing about Disney movies.

    When it is again pointed out that he’s the only one raising the topic, he’ll either claim that a bunch of people reading this thread are secretly obsessed with debating Disney, and so he’s hammering the topic (on a thread about MBS) for their benefit, or he’ll shift topics entirely.

    After all, only reasonable people try to take over a thread about Saudi Arabia politics to talk about Disney princesses.

    Remember, in Pearce’s world two things are always true:

    1. Only one topic can ever be discussed in the world at one time. If anyone dares to think about two topics–say movie critiques and world politics–well then the two must be related, and Pearce is obliged to let them know that talking about Disney movies won’t bring down Trump.

    2. Any celebrity that hoves into Pearce’s view is instantly the leader of the Left.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    let me translate

    Thanks for that, but I still don’t understand Pearce.
    Inscrutable.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    Cleek’s Law: Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

    Example in point, liberals oppose luring reporters into consulates and then dismembering them, and then we get @MikeyParks, suggesting that the death squad should get medals.

    I would have thought that not having extrajudicial killings carried out by death squads using consulates as cover would be one of those shared values that both the left and right could agree to, but, nope.

    And it’s not like MikeyParks is out of step with his president either — he just says it more bluntly.

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  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I never promised understanding. I’ve read the english translation of The Vedas, and while I still do not understand them whatsoever it was a much more enjoyable experience than trying to read them in Hindi.

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    This must have hit close to home for you, Pearce.

    Dude, the constant flaming I get from a small group of commenters, even in threads I have not participated in, never “hits close to home.”

    It’s just annoying.

    @Neil Hudelson: It’s simpler than that, Neil. An obsessive focus on childish stuff that doesn’t matter is what marks the left these days, not a laser like focus on the complexities of the world. It’s why Trump was elected. It’s why Dems’ best case scenario in the midterms is “we might take the House.” It’s why Elizabeth Warren is releasing her DNA tests and why it’s impossible to have multi-faceted conversations about complex subjects.

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  21. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    why it’s impossible to have multi-faceted conversations about complex subjects.

    No, that disruption comes from the far right with the rigid repetition of the talking points du jour (Did you know DEMOCRAT Robert Byrd was a racist?), and from ne’er do wells like yourself who think that X isn’t important and we should be discussing Y and it’s all identity politics.

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  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    An obsessive focus on childish stuff that doesn’t matter is what marks the left these days, not a laser like focus on the complexities of the world. It’s why Trump was elected.

    Again, you are 100% the only person raising the subject of Disney. You are laser focused on childish stuff and you are inserting it into a thread discussing the complexities of the world.

    It’s why Dems’ best case scenario in the midterms is “we might take the House.”

    That’s an asinine assertion that could only be made by someone who has no actual experience with Congressional races outside of arguing about them on OTB.

    why it’s impossible to have multi-faceted conversations about complex subjects.

    In a discussion about a complex subject–mid-eastern foreign affairs–you are bringing up Disney, making it harder to have multi-faceted conversations about complex subjects.

    And, time and time again, you are the sole person bringing up silly subjects.

    This is the rhetorical equivalent of complaining that it hurts every time you stick your finger in your eye.

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  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    How about this, Pearce.

    Please provide me with evidence that ‘the political left’ is focused on Kristen Bell. Not ‘a person on the left’ or ‘someone on our facebook feed,’ but ‘the‘ left is focused on her.

    I’ll wait.

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  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    Does anyone find it rich that the person who continuously claims to be a skeptic–even to the point of denying that the Saudi’s killed Khashoggi–has no problem asserting that a celebrity mentioning she doesn’t like Snow White is the reason the GOP could retain the House?

    You would think an eminently rational and reasonable person may find that claim to be, well, a bit skeptical.

    (And with that, I’ll stop responding to Pearce. I realize I’ve fallen into his trap, and we are now discussing Disney instead of Saudi Arabia.)

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  25. Gustopher says:

    As sloppy and cravenly self-interested as it seems, Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia in this is probably the most conservative-with-a-little-c thing he has done in foreign policy. He’s willing to strain our relationships with our allies, and start a trade war with China, but he is clinging to Saudi Arabia.

    He is trying to avoid a long overdue reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and keep the current structure of decades old Middle East Policy in place. If the Middle East were running smoothly, I might even say that it’s the right thing to do (although then a flurry of meaningless condemnation would be the more effective approach).

    Ironically, do you know who really wanted to drive a wedge between the US and Saudi Arabia? Osama bin Laden. There was a reason so many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. bin Laden wanted the US out of Saudi Arabia for his own reasons. But the response to 9/11 bound us tighter to the Saudis, as we needed them for military bases, etc.

    I don’t know if we need a careful reassesssment of our Middle Eastern allies and policies, or whether the solutions are so far out of sight that we need a barely controlled chaos monkey changing things. But, the region isn’t doing great, and our influence has been harmful to us and to them. And it is the one area where Trump doesn’t want to change a thing.

    Proving, again, that Trump is always wrong.

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  26. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher: Oh bullshit. First mention of Khashoggi and the Muslim Brotherhood and the dude who mentions it gets flamed.

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  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Gustopher: I’d be willing to kick in some bucks if we passed the hat to buy MikeyParks a one-way ticket to Riyadh. I’d even spring for some drink coupons for in flight.

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  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    An obsessive focus on childish stuff that doesn’t matter is what marks the left these days…It’s why Trump was elected.

    Huh?
    Your comment is nonsensical, as per usual. It points at some vague thing that can’t be argued because it is so lacking in substance. What childish thing that doesn’t matter? Disney Princesses?!?!?
    Dennison was elected because an outsized portion of the electorate is racist, they are stupid enough to fall for Russian propaganda, Republicans have been successful at suppressing the vote, and Comey sent a letter to Congress about a woman using her private email at work.
    A perfect storm of BS that managed to sway fewer than a hundred thousand votes and create an electoral college fluke.
    But you keep talking about Princesses, Princess.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: Oh, bull! Shit yourself.

    You’re not that stupid.

    He didn’t just mention the Muslim Brotherhood, he said that the killers should be praised and rewarded for killing. He is justifying extrajudicial death squads operating out of consulates.

    If Khashoggi was a violent extremist, there might be a case to be made that it was fine — messy, and a diplomatic faux pas, but ultimately fine. But Khashoggi was not a violent extremist. He was a reporter with views some people didn’t like.

    If the Saudis provide evidence that Khashoggi had been on a killing spree, eating the livers of underaged boys after violating them in unspeakable ways, I will wholeheartedly endorse his death even in this manner. But, if he’s just a reporter who criticized them?

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  30. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    even to the point of denying that the Saudi’s killed Khashoggi

    I doubted that they cut off his fingers. Which was such a heresy, the whole congregation stood up and started chanting “Shame.”

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  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I like OTB a lot, and spend way too much of my time here. But as important as it is for me, I don’t think it has the type of reach that the Russians would actually pay one of their trolls to come here and disrupt it. Right?

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    He didn’t just mention the Muslim Brotherhood, he said that the killers should be praised and rewarded for killing.

    And yet you chose to debate me over the Disney comment.

    @Neil Hudelson: Also, I didn’t know about Kristen Bell’s issues with Disney, but I did hear about Keira Knightley‘s problems with Disney.

    Totally not a thing, then.

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  33. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    He didn’t just mention the Muslim Brotherhood, he said that the killers should be praised and rewarded for killing.

    And yet you chose to debate me over the Disney comment.

    No, I didn’t. No Disney was ever mentioned by me.

    Also, WTF? That is an entirely insane context switch. Did you start replying to me, and then get distracted and reply to someone else?

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: What is your obsession with Disney, and what does it have to do with the Saudis killing a journalist in their consulate?

    Is there some broader connection that I am not seeing?

    Now I am willing to discuss Disney, but only within the context of the murdering dissident journalists. Because I really, really want to know how they are connected. Did they cut Bambi’s mother’s hooves off before beheading her? Was Prince Charming looking for the owner of the glass slipper to kill her?

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  35. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    Did you start replying to me, and then get distracted and reply to someone else?

    Probably. These flame wars are exhausting.

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  36. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is there some broader connection that I am not seeing?

    Yes, to repeat:

    An obsessive focus on childish stuff that doesn’t matter is what marks the left these days, not a laser like focus on the complexities of the world. It’s why Trump was elected. It’s why Dems’ best case scenario in the midterms is “we might take the House.” It’s why Elizabeth Warren is releasing her DNA tests and why it’s impossible to have multi-faceted conversations about complex subjects.

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  37. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Yeah, where did he dig up Disney Princesses from? and why?

    FWIW, I read a book about Disney animation a few years ago. A point the author kept repeating, is that the protagonists of Disney movies tend not to drive the plot, but rather be driven by the plot. He gives various examples, where he claims essentially events take place that impact the protagonist, and they merely react.

    The reason I bring this up, is because Disney is a big cultural influence on children in lots and lots of countries, and has been for many, many decades. To a large extent, it may still reflect the vision, preferences, values, judgments, etc. of its founder. And to the extent that other companies that now produce animated children’s movies copy Dinsey’s formulas, then all of that retains the influence of the late Walt Disney

    That is pretty damned big.

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  38. James Pearce says:

    @Kathy:

    Yeah, where did he dig up Disney Princesses from? and why?

    The where: Keira Knightley. The why: as an example of “childish stuff that doesn’t matter.”

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  39. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: Have you been self-medicating today? Do you happen to be watching Disney movies while self-medicating and posting?

    Because no one but you can make that connection, and you can’t explain it.

    Here’s a complex topic — the Saudis have used a diplomatic consulate as cover for a brutal murder (or have mysteriously held back evidence that would clear themselves) while the Trump administration makes excuses for them. It appears to go to MBS.

    Added complexities:
    – the Turks have their own agenda in giving out information, can they be trusted?
    – should this redefine our relationship with the Saudis?
    – is Trump acting because of his business interests, or his desire to suck up to strongmen?
    – when the King referred to “rogue agents” was he referring to the crown prince?
    – did Trumps attacks on the media make MBS believe that it would be ok to do this?
    – how should the US respond?
    – should we be selling the Saudis weapons?
    – why has this become a turning point when so many other things have not?
    – does Saudi Arabia have anything unique to offer us in a region filled with other repressive governments with oil and a central location?
    – can we just blame the victim and be done with it?

    Noticibly absent is Disney movies. I suppose Aladdin takes place somewhere in the Middle East, so it might be tangentially relevant if we end up discussing sand. I might enjoy a musical version of the death of Khashoggi, as I do enjoy Sweeney Todd, but it doesn’t seem very Disney.

    I don’t see anyone else focusing on childish stuff (Disney movies) other than you.

    If you really want to discuss Disney movies, well OTB doesn’t really have open threads, but there is a general practice of occasionally grabbing an underused but current thread and posting something like “OT, but Disney Movies are filled with terrible role models for women who cannot sing on key” or whatever the Disney thing is about. It’s technically against the rules, but it isn’t disruptive so no one seems to care. Usually it is “OT, Nicki Halley just resigned”, but Disney movies might be fine.

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  40. Neil Hudelson says:

    “The why: as an example of “childish stuff that doesn’t matter.””

    And the Who is: James Pearce.

    To recap, responding to absolutely no one, in a thread about MBS, you brought up a British actress talking about her parenting in the British press as an example of how the American political left focuses on silly things.

    Do I have that right?

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  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    Yeah, where did he dig up Disney Princesses from? and why?

    From what I can discern, there was an entertainment piece on Kristen Bell talking about reading to her very young children. A quote from Keira Knightley was included.
    How that got to an obsessive focus of the left? You will have to ask Pearce’s therapist.
    FFS, I hope he has one after watching this shitshow.
    Maybe he thinks there is no place for entertainment features online?
    That makes about as much sense as Tyrell thinking there shouldn’t be porn.

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  42. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “The where: Keira Knightley”

    I think it’s pretty clear that there’s just no point in engaging with Pearce anymore. It’s not that he no longer arguing in good faith (if he ever was); it’s that he’s not arguing at all. Everything he posts these days is just an existential shriek of “Pay attention to meeeeeee!” So maybe we could just find a way to pat him on the head, tell him he’s a good (white) boy, and go back to talking about things we’re interested in, not whether or not some actress who happens to be a British subject and not an American citizen secretly controls the left by her feelings about Disney princesses.

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  43. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I think this is the article that got Pearce’s panties in a bunch.
    I can certainly see why he is sooooo upset.
    Not.
    And it is obvious example of the Left’s obsession over things that don’t matter.
    Not.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kristen-bell-thinks-snow-white-sends-the-wrong-message-to-kids-about-consent_us_5bc8be00e4b0d38b5875f822

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  44. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @wr:

    go back to talking about things we’re interested in

    Don’t think for a second I’m not interested in Kiera Knightley or Kristen Bell.

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  45. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Have you watched The Good Place? I had to be convinced to stick with it through the first season–I didn’t really get it, but so many people’s who opinions I respect loved it. Then I got to the last episode of season 1, and oh man it’s one of the best shows on TV. Kristen Bell is phenomenal in it.

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  46. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I haven’t seen it…but loved her in House of Lies.

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  47. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    How that got to an obsessive focus of the left? You will have to ask Pearce’s therapist.
    FFS, I hope he has one after watching this shitshow.

    If he does have one, doesn’t that kind of discredit the whole profession?

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    Because no one but you can make that connection, and you can’t explain it.

    Further explanations, I’m sure, would help.

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Do I have that right?

    Nope.

    Before I even commented on this thread, Mark Edman (or whatever his name is) posted this in what was clearly a reference to me:

    By this I mean the RWNJ trolls are being riled up to engage everyone in meaningless “debates” over the minutiae of the evidence.

    As if the evidence doesn’t matter. As if to be concerned over the evidence marks one as as a RWNJ troll. As if there are no actual questions about the Khashoggi case.

    And seriously, if there’s someone who shouldn’t be talking about “meaningless debates” it’s a left wing poseur.

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  49. JohnMcC says:

    Maybe an off-topic warning is deserved, but I just heard on the TV that Turkish Police seem to have information that Mr Khashoggi’s body was left in some place in Turkey.

    The amazing thing about this event to me is the stupidity of the Saudi’s.

    Well, that and that the world seems so enraged about this man’s death and never paused when 40 children were murdered by an attack on a school bus in Yemen with American weapons. That is something I find really horrible.

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  50. Scott F. says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The Good Place is so much fun, I may be willing to let Kristen Bell be the sole representative of “the left” in political arguments about complex world issues.

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  51. James Pearce says:

    @Scott F.: I rest my case. You know a dude was murdered right?

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  52. t says:

    @wr:

    go back to talking about things we’re interested in

    Cialis?

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  53. Kathy says:

    Back on topic, I wonder whether MBS is perhaps a touch Trumpian in the estimation of his own genius, skill, and ability. That is, he lacks genius, skill, and ability, but is convinced otherwise. Or he’s average on such things, but thinks he’s remarkable, maybe one of a kind.

    I assume he doesn’t lack a decent education, including politics and economics, the way Trump does. I can’t say for sure, but royals with actual governing power all over the world, and at most times in history, tend to get a good grounding on such things.

    But education only gets you so far if you lack critical thinking skills, intelligence, and the ability to use them. So if MBS is Trumpian in the sense I describe, he’s bound to make some incredibly stupid mistakes, such as carrying out a clandestine killing in such a way that it might as well have been live-streamed on YouTube with credits and the Crown Prince’s signature.

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  54. Kathy says:

    Also back on topic, kind of, does it seem to anyone else that El Dennison takes a position too soon on many controversial issues? In particular this one. As I noted before, since Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate, the Saudis know 100% what happened to him. Yet Trump at once, perhaps reflexively, started giving them cover. Doing this, he will likely have to either walk back the cover (and flip-flopping is always good for a politician, yes?), or stick to it to the bitter end and assume ever more ludicrous positions.(*)

    This shows his lack of experience and unwillingness to learn, too. The murder of a dissident who is also a journalist will, if nothing else, stir up the media, even the state-run Fox News. All over the world, too, except perhaps in Saudi Arabia (duh!)

    There may be times when cover is warranted. Overall, though, it’s wisest not to take a position until 1) there is more information and 2) you have had time to think about what’s best for the country. That’s why politicians, especially at the top, hedge reflexively and avoid taking a position right away.

    (*) Sometimes he will neither walk something back nor stick with it. in such cases he goes full INGSOC and claims he never took the position he did take to begin with, evidence to the contrary be damned (“FAKE NEWS!” etc.)

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  55. Michael Reynolds says:

    A contributing factor in bad decision making is believing you have the most powerful person in the world on your payroll.

    We have no need of Saudi Arabia’s friendship. There’s no shortage of oil, we don’t need a launching pad to invade Kuwait or Iraq. Saudi Arabia is the Vatican of Islamic extremism. They invented the nastier strains of the Muslim religion. They are viciously misogynist, they kill gays, they’ll throw you in prison for carrying a bible. This is an evil regime that may once have been a strategic asset but is no longer as it tries to drag us ever deeper into religious wars and uses our weapons to massacre innocent non-combatants in Yemen.

    Our natural allies in the Gulf region are the people of Iran. Not the government, no, but the people. We have nothing in common with either the people or the government of Saudi Arabia. On a number line where we sit at number 10, the Iranians are a 6 and the Saudis all the way down at zero. And now the Saudis have obviously lost their fcking minds, which does not improve their usefulness.

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  56. Scott F. says:

    @James Pearce:

    Don’t go resting your case on me, dipshit.

    You’re so self-absorbed that you’ve hijacked a thread about that “dude” who was murdered to (once again) whine about the quality of the debate and all because a reference to RWNJs just HAD to be a flame thrown at you. You – the guy who repeatedly claims here that he isn’t right wing.

    Pay attention – they aren’t laughing with you, they’re laughing at you.

    All others, I’m sorry I gave the troll oxygen.

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  57. James Pearce says:

    @Scott F.:

    Don’t go resting your case on me, dipshit.

    Okay. So…keep going?

    The news this morning:

    At Montana rally, Trump praises congressman for assaulting reporter

    Not only that, but Trump is working with the Saudis to cover up a murder. He’s mean, he’s nasty, he can’t be shamed, and so far has withstood all attacks from left and right.

    This may sound to some of you like praise, but it’s not. It’s just true. He is a cancer on this republic and “the left” wants to cure him with crystals and a macrobiotic diet.

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  58. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    doesn’t that kind of discredit the whole profession?

    Having dated a psychologist…I best not answer.

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