Foreign Policy

Did Trump Know The Saudis Were Going to Kill a WaPo Contributor?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

While I have strong feelings about the Saudis capturing, killing, and apparently dismembering a Washington Post contributor (so they could carry his body out of the Saudi consulate in Instanbul in separate boxes) when he traveled to Turkey to obtain a marriage license, I wasn't necessarily planning to discuss it here because it's a little outside of my wheelhouse.

This is not, however, and this raises some very serious questions.

Investigators believe a team of 15 Saudi agents traveled to Turkey to torture, kill, and disappear Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi and the Washington Post reports that American intelligence may have known this was going to happen.

Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him, according to a person familiar with the information. The Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there, this person said. It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target, this person said.

If intelligence officials were aware of the Saudi plan, did they notify anyone?

If not, why not?

Trump regime officials and Trump himself are playing dumb and feigning ignorance about the murderous plans of their best buddy Mohammed bin Salman (usually referred to as simply MBS), but we have reason to believe they knew this was going to happen. It's possible this information could have even been contained in one of the daily intelligence reports that Trump doesn't pay attention to unless they include pictures.

Several Republicans in Congress have said they want answers to these questions, but I don't expect we'll see them make a serious attempt to get to the bottom of it. Like many other things, we'll need to elect Democrats if we want to see even a minimal level of oversight of the executive branch of government.

Khashoggi was not the only journalist murdered in recent days and the Trump regime has barely said a word about any of it.

Their silence does speak volumes, however, and it's increasingly clear that you can murder journalists and carry out assassinations even within the borders of our closest allies and the United States will do very little if anything about it under Trump.

  • Christopher Foxx

    it’s increasingly clear that you can murder journalists and carry out assassinations even within the borders of our closest allies and the United States will do very little if anything about it under Trump.

    Trump isn’t bothered by these actions. He’s envious of them.

    It’s something Trump wishes he could get away with.

  • muselet

    Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been pondering this story for a couple of days now: here, here, and here, for starters (there’s some stuff that’s behind the Prime paywall, too). He’s clearly trying to be scrupulously fair, but he’s finding it hard to believe the Trump administration wasn’t at least aware ahead of time that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was in the works.

    It’s concerning if US intelligence knew in advance what was being planned and did not warn Khashoggi, either because it wouldn’t or because it couldn’t.

    This miserable affair must be investigated thoroughly, without regard to who might be implicated.


    • Badgerite

      There is speculation that this was an attempted ‘rendition’ gone bad. If so, this is very, very reminiscent of what Michael Flynn was accused of attempting to do for Erdogen of Turkey with respect to a critic of his living in the US as a US National. Michael Flynn and his son were alleged to have attempted to bargain the ‘rendition’ ( see kidnapping on American soil) of an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for the price of $15 million.

      • muselet

        There is speculation that this was an attempted ‘rendition’ gone bad.

        Possible, I suppose, but it’s hard for me to believe rendering a lone, pudgy, middle-aged, probably unarmed journalist would require 15 trained members of the Saudi security forces (f I were being tasteless, I’d call that overkill).


        • Badgerite

          Why would killing a “lone, pudgy, middle-aged, probably unarmed journalist” require “15 trained members of the Saudi security forces”? Seems to me rendition would require more force to get him out of the country and back to Saudi Arabia. What’s more, his fiance was left standing outside the embassy waiting for him. Seems like that would sort of put the lie to their lie about having no idea what happened to Khashoggi. You would think they would refrain from killing him under those circumstances. Apparently they have no fear of any kind of real repercussions flowing from the trump people. I’m not surprised about that.

          • muselet

            Oh, the Saudis know exactly what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, and their spread-hands, “we’re puzzled, too, maybe it’s a magic trick” routine is ludicrous on its face. I’m willing to wager that Jared Kushner knew about Mohammed bin Salman’s plans for Khashoggi quite some time ago, and Donald Trump knew not long after.

            I’d even take a punt on Donald Trump ordering the intelligence community not to warn Khashoggi.

            My speculation is that the Saudis only wanted to arrest Khashoggi so they could hold a show trial, and somebody got a little too rough during his … erm … apprehension; maybe he threatened them with his mad ninja typing skills.

            And no, Mohammed bin Salman has nothing to worry about from the Trump administration. Donald Trump is quite comfortable with what dictators do.


          • Badgerite

            Sad to say, exactly right.

  • gescove

    No response to Russian assassinations in England. Check. No response to Russian interference in elections here & abroad. Check. No action to protect a journalist targeted for death by the Saudis (green-lighted by BFF Kushner?). Check. Alienate our closest allies here and in Europe. Check. Cozy up to Duterte, Kim Jong-Un, Erdogan. Check. Stoke racial and ethnic fear, hatred, and resentment to advance white nationalism. Check. Kidnap and imprison children at the border? Check. What a sick, twisted, and corrupt regime this is.

  • Badgerite

    There is no doubt as to what happened and where. The fiance of Jamal Khashoggi accompanied him to the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, watched as he went in and waited for him to come out. He was supposed to be there for a short time to get documents for their wedding the next day. She was still there waiting for him to come out at midnight.
    I must admit to a raging hatred of this sociopathic POS in the Oval Office and his entire family. But I don’t think I have ever hated him more than now. POS is actually too kind a description for him. #bebest.