Fast forward 12 hours (give or take) from Saudi Arabia’s “fist fight” trial balloon, floated on Friday evening in what amounts to a first crack at obscuring Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in ordering an extrajudicial killing, and nobody is buying it.
Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. One person is buying it:
That’s Donald Trump, speaking on Friday evening at a pow wow with defense industry executives in Arizona, and as you can see, the President thinks Riyadh’s claim that Jamal Khashoggi was killed during a brawl in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is credible.
It is of course not credible. Not even a little bit. Even less credible is the notion that the Crown Prince had no knowledge of the operation, a line at least one Saudi source tried to push on Friday evening.
The reasons to doubt the Saudi narrative are myriad, but the most damning evidence of all when it comes to asserting that the 15 men dispatched to Turkey earlier this month indeed intended to kill Khashoggi, is the presence of Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, chief of forensic medicine at the Saudi Ministry of the Interior and a noted expert on mobile autopsies.
It’s not immediately clear why you would bring along a guy who specializes in cutting up dead bodies in makeshift morgues if you didn’t at least think it was possible that somebody might end up dead. And unless you want to suggest the Saudis suspected Khashoggi might turn out to be some kind of Ethan Hunt-type, capable of killing his would-be captors in hand-to-hand combat on the way to evading capture and escaping through the air ducts, that somebody who the Saudis figured might die was Khashoggi.
To be clear, everybody knows the Saudis’ story is absurd.
“The claim that Khashoggi was killed while brawling with 15 men dispatched from Saudi Arabia is not at all credible”, Adam Schiff said Friday night, adding that “the Kingdom must be held to account [and] if the Administration doesn’t lead, Congress must.”
Even Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham thinks this is a farce. “First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement [and] now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince”, an incredulous Graham tweeted, following the initial report from Riyadh.
Marco Rubio was even more direct:
Saudi Arabia’s changing stories on Khashoggi murder is getting old. The latest one about a fist fight gone bad is bizarre. We must move forward with Global Magnitsky investigation we requested, find out what really happened & sanction those responsible.
Rubio has now joined some two dozen U.S. Senators in calling on Trump to launch an investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination into Khashoggi’s death.
If you’re inexplicably in the camp who thinks Trump is correct to suggest the U.S. should go easy on the Saudis in the interest of preserving a $110 billion arms deal, you’re out of luck, because the invocation of the Magnitsky Act means Trump is compelled to do something, and the clock is ticking.
Meanwhile, the real leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, doesn’t buy the Saudis’ “fist fight” story either. “This still hasn’t been cleared up and of course we demand that it be cleared up,” Merkel said, speaking at a regional convention for her Christian Democratic Union party on Saturday.
Yes, “of course” Merkel demands that Riyadh “clear this up”. Because that’s what one does when one is the guardian of Democratic values and the last bastion of hope for a world gone crazy.
The bottom line here is that Donald Trump – and, by extension, Mike Pompeo – are engaged in a coverup of an extrajudicial killing and it’s not going to work. That’s just all there is to this.
You forgot this: "We also want to thank Saudi Arabia for that $100 million they wired us earlier this week, and for the $110 billion weapons contract, and also for holding $169.5 billion in U.S. debt at a time when China and Japan are selling their Treasurys."
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) October 19, 2018