Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

It’s out: MBS ordered killing

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The world knew already what U.S. intelligence officials released for public review: the Saudi crown prince ordered the assassination of a renowned Saudi dissident journalist who also happened to be a U.S. resident at the time of his hideous murder.

Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered. His remains haven’t yet been recovered. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered it because of critical columns that Khashoggi had written for the Washington Post.

The Biden administration today released the findings of the probe. The Trump administration had refused to let us know what the spooks determined.

I am glad to see President Biden reversing his predecessor’s hands-off policy regarding MBS. I wish, though, he would level harsh personal sanctions on the crown prince rather than backing off. Yes, the president intends to sanction others within the Saudi government and will sanction the nation as well; he will suspend arms sales and other deals intended to strengthen the Saudi position in the Middle East.

However, the bad guy in all of this — the crown prince — is going to skate away without punishment.

CBS News is reporting on the intelligence findings: “We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi,” the report says.

Intel report finds MBS approved “capture or kill” Khashoggi (msn.com)

So, still, there is no punishment being handed out to this evil character? Amazing!

We are proud in this country of standing up for liberty and for the free flow of information and dissent. Khashoggi wasn’t a U.S. citizen, but he lived here and worked for a leading U.S. newspaper, the Post.

President Biden has whiffed on this one.

Trump overreach keeps growing

Donald Trump’s efforts at usurping congressional authority and legislative power are growing.

The House and the Senate both have voted against an appropriation to provide arms to Saudi Arabia, citing that government’s ruthlessness in his role in the Yemen civil war as well as the murder of a U.S. journalist at the hands of Saudi assassins.

What does the president do? He decides to invoke an executive action that circumvents Congress, thus consummating an $8 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

Trump says the threat posed by Iran is the reason he outflanked Congress. The Iranians and the Saudis hate each other. Saudi Arabia’s leadership is friendly to Trump, even though its crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has been implicated in the murder of Saudi-born U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered while being held captive by Saudi goons.

Do you get the picture? Trump’s friendship with the guy they call MBS supersedes congressional authority. Therefore, Trump will ignore congressional insistence that we no longer support the Saudi involvement in the ongoing bloodshed in Yemen.

Do you think this might energize congressional Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in their outrage over the president’s overreach into congressional authority?

I don’t think so, either.

They have become the face of persecuted journalists

Talk about an inspired choice.

Time magazine has unveiled its “Persons of the Year.” The lead “person of the year” is none other than Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. resident who was tortured and killed by his countrymen in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Because he gave his life reporting on and commenting on the issue of free political expression, Khashoggi has joined a group of other journalists to earn the honor bestowed by Time on those who had the most impact on the world — for better or worse.

Khashoggi, who’s been in the news quite a bit of late, has become the face and the voice of persecuted journalists around the world.

They are “The Guardians” saluted by Time. Oh, there are others worth recognizing, too.

Such as the five employees of The Capital in Annapolis, Md., who were gunned down by a madman. Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters also are the faces of persecuted journalists. The editor of the Capital made it clear that “We’re going to publish a newspaper” the next day. So they did. They carried on in memory of their slain colleagues.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quyhn, a Vietnamese blogger, has been calling out her government’s repression of human rights. She goes by the pen name of Mother Mushroom. She was taken captive and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, this brave woman of letters was released. She, too, is the face and the voice of persecuted journalists.

Time magazine has held up the cudgel for journalists who seek to report on the affairs of the world, their communities and to tell the truth. They aren’t enemies of any people, although it is clear that Jamal Khashoggi was the enemy of the autocratic government that had him tortured and murdered. The CIA has put the finger on Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who denies it. Donald Trump has sided with the prince and has disrespected the work of the CIA.

I am going to stand with Time magazine and with the men and women who have fought for — and died for — the cause of reporting the truth to their audience.

GOP schism with Trump growing over Saudis

Well, what do you know about that?

U.S. senators have heard from the CIA director herself about what the spy agency has concluded about the conduct of our key Middle East “ally” involving the gruesome murder of a U.S. resident and journalist.

Senators weigh in on Khashoggi murder

The senators, Republicans and Democrats alike, are siding with CIA Director Gina Haspel’s view that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Haspel actually has heard the recording that purports to depict Khashoggi’s death screams while he was being murdered and allegedly dismembered by his Saudi captors.

GOP senators who heretofore had become Donald Trump’s strongest allies now are siding with Haspel and her agency and against Trump, who is trying to give the crown prince the benefit of the doubt. The president says bin Salman “might or might not” be culpable. The president, who has said he relies on his “gut” more than he relies on “other people’s brains,” is taking the prince’s side because the Saudis do so much business with the United States, buying jets and other weapons they use against terrorists and their terror-nation sponsors.

Khashoggi’s life? It’s not nearly as important as those deals, according to Trump.

I’m done going soft on Trump. The president is in growing trouble politically. The special counsel might be closing in on Trump in his meticulous probe into the “Russia thing.” Meanwhile, the president continues to demonstrate his hideous blind spot as it regards despots and authoritarian regimes.

He does so even at the expense — to his great discredit — of the intelligence agencies and their leaders who take essentially the same oath that the president does: to defend the United States of America.

Those agencies are doing their job. The president, it pains me to say it, is not.

Bolton has lost his spine

I am going to concur with Paul Begala, a former Bill Clinton political confidant and pal, who says national security adviser John Bolton has shown himself to be a coward.

Yes, Begala is a partisan. For that matter, I suppose you can argue that I am, too. Sure, I lean in the same direction as Begala, but I’ve never worked for politicians.

Begala is angry that Bolton has chosen to avoid listening to the recording of slain U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi being slaughtered by his Saudi Arabian captors, who killed him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Reporters asked Bolton why he hadn’t listen to it. He said: “Unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it?”

Begala responded in an essay: A lot. You will, presumably, hear struggle. You will hear beating, according to a Turkish newspaper, citing Turkish security sources. You will hear torture. You will hear an innocent man’s final, desperate words: “Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?” You will hear one of the alleged conspirators, who allegedly put on Khashoggi’s clothes to act as a body double, comment that “it is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago.”

Bolton didn’t want to hear that. Nor did he want to ask an interpreter to translate it for him. He said he could “read a transcript” if he could find an Arabic speaker to listen to it.

Read the essay here

Bolton’s crass and callous response defies human decency, in my humble view.

He is the national security adviser, for crying out loud! He needs to hear the screams of a journalist based in Washington, D.C., a Saudi national and a champion of political dissent. He had the temerity to insist on reforms in the land of his birth . . . and this is the response reportedly from the crown prince who allegedly ordered the man’s murder.

The CIA has determined that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder. The president has blown that assessment off. So, too, I guess has John Bolton, choosing to join Donald Trump in the hideous game of disparaging the nation’s intelligence experts.

Cowardly.

Give thanks to Saudis? I don’t think so

The president of the United States says Americans should “give thanks” to Saudi Arabia for the relatively low cost of gasoline.

I don’t think I’ll do that.

I will give thanks instead to a domestic energy policy that has enabled the United States to achieve energy independence. I’ll give thanks to a president, Barack Obama, who had the foresight to insist on an energy policy that sought to develop alternative sources of energy.

I’ll also give thanks to automakers for developing more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. My wife and I own one, a Toyota Prius, that we gas up about every, oh, three or four weeks.

No, I don’t believe the Saudis are our friends. They are murderers. The president likes to foment fear of terrorists coming to this country from Latin America. Hell, the Saudis are the breeding ground for terrorist monsters; 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew those commercial jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11 hailed from Saudi Arabia.

Am I going to give thanks to Saudi Arabia for anything? Cheap gasoline? Energy independence? For their alliance with us against Iran and other hardline states in the Middle East?

Hah! Hardly.

Energy prices up, then down, then up . . .

Donald Trump is cheering the drop in oil prices. So am I. I don’t like paying more for gasoline than I can afford. So, I am enjoying watching the price of crude take a tumble.

But wait a second! Didn’t the president come into office declaring his intention to shore up the fossil fuel industry? He tossed some of the environmental regulations approved during the Obama administration, claiming they hurt drillers’ ability to explore for oil.

The other thing that hurt drillers was, um, the price of oil. Back when it was around $100 per barrel, pump jacks all over Texas and the rest of the Oil Patch that had gone silent when the prices fell were restarted. They began pumping the “Texas Tea” out of the ground.

Why, then, does the president say this in a Twitter message:

Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!

His Pennsylvania Avenue cheering section seems to suggest now that he wants the price to keep falling. A lot of West Texas wildcatters are unhappy with the trend. They don’t want to see it continue. They want it to go the other way.

I happen to hope it doesn’t, just like the president.

But why didn’t the president say anything in that tweet about developing alternative energy sources? President Obama made quite a push to do so during his two terms in office. The result was that we became effectively “energy independent.” The U.S. of A. became the world’s leading oil producer. Meanwhile, we invested in wind, solar and hydropower to take the burden off those wildcatters and Big Oil to keep producing.

Which is it now? Are we going to cheer the plunging oil prices or wish them to increase?

Donald Trump, per usual, is sending a mixed — or perhaps confused — message to the world.

***

And of course, the bouquet the president tossed to Saudi Arabia — in light of his hideous acceptance of the Saudis’ denial in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist — sends another chilling message altogether. More on that one to come.

Trump once again undercuts our intelligence experts

Donald John Trump has a limitless array of weapons that he uses — against our own nation’s intelligence experts!

He deployed some of them again today by undercutting the CIA’s assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the ghastly murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Trump said in a highly unusual statement that he won’t take any action against the government of Saudi Arabia, despite what the CIA analysis has concluded. That’s right. He sides with another authoritarian leader, taking his word over the learned view expressed by some of the finest intelligence experts in the world.

I suppose the president had that $110 billion order for jet fighters that Saudi Arabia has placed with the Defense Department on his mind, too.

To be sure, the president called Khashoggi’s murder “terrible” and said it is an action that our country “does not condone.” He stopped short of joining the CIA assessment of the crown prince’s involvement.

Now, a word about the CIA and its current leadership.

Gina Haspel, a career spook and a former deep-cover agent, is Trump’s appointed CIA director. She is a highly trained professional who has spent her entire professional life working to protect this country against its enemies. Yes, she had some issues for which she had to answer when she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but I do not doubt her skill or her management ability in running the agency.

For the commander in chief to say, in effect, that the CIA is mistaken does the agency a disservice. Moreover, it disserves the search for the truth behind the slaughter of a U.S. resident who worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. Khashoggi’s final column, in fact, called on Saudi Arabia to exercise tolerance for those who disagree with government policy.

It is reasonable to presume that Khashoggi’s insistence on reforming Saudi government policies led to his hideous and ghastly murder.

The CIA concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination. The CIA is full of experts who know what they’re doing. The president, meanwhile, is full of delusions about his own instincts. He has chosen to give the Saudi government a pass on what the nation’s intelligence experts say it did to a journalist.

If only the president of the United States would take dead aim at the bad guys and quit undermining the good guys’ work on our behalf.

Time for Saudi sanctions, Mr. President

OK, Mr. President, you’ve got a problem.

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the brutal assassination of a Saudi-born journalist in Istanbul, Turkey. But wait! Now the CIA has determined that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

What are you going to do about it, Mr. President?

You see, the United States has some skin in this game. Khashoggi was a journalist employed by the Washington Post. He was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the newspaper and, indeed, his final essay called for greater tolerance of political dissent in Saudi Arabia. The crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, took umbrage at Khashoggi’s view.

So he had him killed. Maybe he even ordered the reported dismembering of Khashoggi, torturing him while he was still alive, screaming for his life.

How in the world do we let this pass, Mr. President?

I wish I could presume you’ll accept the CIA assessment. I mean, you had to be dragged kicking and screaming to endorse the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016.

But the CIA now is being run by one of your appointees. Gina Haspel is a career spook. She is a first-rate spymaster. Her agency also is among the best intelligence outfits in the world. But you know that already. Right?

You need to set aside that top-dollar arms deal the Saudis want done. Those high-performance jet fighters the Saudis ordered ought to be put back in the hangar.

The Saudis are bad actors at many levels. Sure, they’re our “allies” in the effort to corral the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are brutal, though, in their handling of political dissent, as Jamal Khashoggi’s hideous fate would attest.

The CIA says the crown prince is involved. You, sir, need to act.

POTUS stepping it up, putting heat on Saudis

Donald Trump has been a bit slow to speak publicly and angrily about what happened to a U.S. resident who died a gruesome death at the hands of Saudi Arabia agents.

However, the president has declared his belief that the Saudis are lying and are being “deceitful” about the circumstances surrounding journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

What’s next? Sanctions, perhaps? Might there be a rethinking of that $100 billion arms deal that’s pending with the Saudis? An expulsion of Saudi diplomats from the United States?

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He reportedly was chopped to pieces, while still alive. The Turks vow to reveal the “naked truth” into what happened to this man.

An unspeakable horror

As for the Saudis, they have been playing a game of “cover my a**” with the United States and the rest of the world.

Donald Trump is beginning to turn the jets up under the Saudis’ backside. He must continue. He must ratchet it up even more. He must demand in the strongest terms possible that the Saudis explain what happened to Khashoggi and stop looking for lame alibis.

And he must take up the cudgel for the message Khashoggi was trying to deliver: that the Arab world must allow for more freedom of expression, a noble cause that tragically appears to have cost him his life.

Welcome to the fight, Mr. President.