The Latest on Jamal Khashoggi

[Content Note: Abduction; torture; murder.]

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was living in the United States and was critical of Saudi regime, went missing two weeks ago after going inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to finalize paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

It is believed at this point that a group of around 15 Saudi nationals knew Khashoggi would be arriving and met him there with the purpose of torturing and killing him; that they did precisely that, of which there is a recording; and that Khashoggi was dismembered and carried out of the consulate building in pieces.

One of the men under investigation by Turkish authorities is a Saudi intelligence officer named Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who is a close associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who also maintains close ties to Jared Kushner.

We know that the Trump administration had reportedly intercepted intelligence detailing the plan to abduct Khashoggi and failed to warn him, despite a 2015 directive requiring such disclosures. What we don't yet know is whether the Trump administration fed any intelligence about Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia.

We don't know if Kushner knew of or even helped facilitate a plan which, if not directly MBS's design, certainly took place with his knowledge and approval. We do know, however, that Kushner should have been removed from his position a very long time ago, because he broke federal law multiple times by lying on his disclosure forms, and yet there he still sits.

And of course we know with certainty that Donald Trump, who wages a relentless war on the free press in the U.S., is exactly the worst person who could be occupying the Oval Office during this intense diplomatic crisis, even if his regime didn't actively participate in it.

To wit, under the blunt headline "Trump unleashes festering list of grievances during unscheduled morning," Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny at CNN report:
Without any scheduled meetings, the President was free Tuesday morning to marinate in insult and injury, fueled by the constant presence of Fox News on the flat-screen televisions installed in his third-floor residence.

The President told people in conversations Tuesday morning that he was aggravated at the coverage of Saudi Arabia crisis, which has dominated cable news, one official said. Senior White House aides have tried to impress upon him how serious the matter is.

Asked directly whether he was trying to change the subject of television coverage on Tuesday, the official said: "I don't know, but he's good at doing that."
The investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance continues, and every state party involved has its own agenda. I hope that the truth will be known, and I fear that this is only the beginning of more and greater ugliness yet to come.

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