Saudi Crown prince likely to have ordered Khashoggi’s murder; DPRK continues developing nukes

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times (screenshots below) report that, despite vehement denials of the Saudi government, not only did Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman know about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but actually ordered the killing. (The Post reported it first.)

The data is inferential, but strong enough to convince the CIA. It includes this:

1.) The inference that this could not have happened without bin Salman’s orders

2.) The CIA’s interception of a call from the “kill team” to the Crown Prince’s aide, reporting that “saying “tell your boss” that the mission was accomplished.”

3.)  Calls by Prince Mohammed himself exploring ways to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia.

4.)  And, from the Post:

. . . a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.

Read more at the screenshots:

In a breathtakingly cynical move, the Saudi government itself has charged 11 people with killing Khashoggi, with five of them facing capital punishment.  If these people are imprisoned or executed, it will be a deliberate sacrifice of people who did what they were told in order to save the reputation of the Crown Prince.  The data given above are enough to convince me that Prince Mohammed had a big role in the killing, as they have convinced the CIA, which has strong confidence that this was done on Mohammed’s orders.

Now a decent democratic government, like ours is supposed to be, would denounce this in the strongest terms possible and immediately impose severe sanctions on Saudi Arabia. They cannot be allowed to kill people in other countries for the crime of journalism. But Trump is the “President”, and I doubt that anything will happen.

On another note, it’s pretty clear now that despite Trump (and Kim Jong-un’s) assurance after the Singapore summit that North Korea would “denuclearize” its country, the DPRK is still developing nukes. As the New York Times reported five days ago:

North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.

The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.

“We are in no rush,” Mr. Trump said of talks with the North at a news conference on Wednesday, after Republicans lost control of the House. “The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.”

After the June summit I predicted that nothing would change, and that the DPRK would continue developing nukes. That doesn’t make me a star prognosticator, though, as any fool who knows the DPRK could see that. One of the main ways North Korea’s leaders keep the populace content (besides terrorizing them) is to assure them that the U.S. is set to annihilate their country. They simply cannot afford to give up their nuclear program. Trump continues to lie about this despite the fact that his own intelligence agencies contradict him.

I don’t think there’s much danger that even a nuke-armed DPRK would launch a unilateral attack on South Korea or the US, as that would ensure their own destruction. But what this does do is further oppress that nation’s people through both external sanctions and the diversion of government money into weapons), and lead to an arms race that could be stopped. But Kim Jong-un loves his power too much and hates his people almost as much. I cannot believe that the man thinks he’s helping his country.


  1. Posted November 17, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    he House of Sawed

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      But also, ew.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Good one!

  2. Posted November 17, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    No doubt this behavior of the Saudi theocracy was inspired by what Casey Cep referred to in his “New Yorker” article as the “coherent moral vision” that we atheists are supposed to lack.

  3. Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Worst of all, Trump has been trying to sell political dissident Gülen back to Erdogan in return for shutting up about Khashoggi — the same guy Flynn planned to kidnap for $15 million. Obviously this is a favour to the Saudis, in exchange for who knows what.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I have been thinking that although the white house may do nothing other arms of our government and other governments could at least provide a source of irritation to the Saudi royal family. I believe he has been an important figure in meeting with government heads and making business deals, and that requred him to travel around a lot. So one thing that can be done is block his entry into our country, and other countries could do the same. This is next to nothing, I know, but it would be humiliating to them.

  5. Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Besides continuing to develop their nukes, NK has reportedly developed some other new weapon. It’s an “ultra-modern tactical weapon”. Perhaps a cruise missile of some kind?

  6. rickflick
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    It is surprising that Trump still has around 35-40% public support. It just shows that people can be selective about what parts of reality they want to believe and what parts to ignore. Much like religion.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      I would bet that upwards of 80% of Cult45 consist of believers.

      • rickflick
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        I wonder if there’s a gene for morbid gullibility?

  7. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Surely we are meant to be reassured by the Saudis insistence that their investigation of the Khashoggi affair will leave no stone unturned. The government of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was similarly quick to investigate the murder of Boris Nemtsov. I look forward to Senator Mitch McConnell’s personal investigation of what happened to the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I don’t think there’s much danger that even a nuke-armed DPRK would launch a unilateral attack on South Korea or the US …

    No, the real danger, way I see it, is that the US under Donald Trump could eventually launch a preemptive military strike against NoKo, once it finally dawns on the Donald that he can no longer continue to feign a yooge, Nobel-worthy denuclearization victory by ignoring Kim’s blatant, ongoing weapons’ buildup.

    Trump’s National Security Advisor is John Bolton, the most aggressive old-line war-hawk to climb to such heights within the US government since Curtis LeMay. Bolton is mortal enemies of, and is doing all he can to isolate Trump from, the three more moderate Marine generals in Trump’s orbit — Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford. Shortly before Bolton joined the Trump administration, in what many saw as an audition for his current role, Bolton authored an opinion piece in the WSJ advocating a preemptive first strike against North Korea.

    In the meantime, the special counsel’s noose continues to tighten around Trump’s neck. From all appearances (and depending upon how much interference he encounters from Trump’s new stooge of an acting AG Matt Whitaker), Bob Mueller seems ready to drop some big indictments, possibly even including one of Donald Trump, Jr. And come January, the relevant committees of the new Democratic House of Representatives are poised to glove-up and go probing in the orifices where Trump keeps all his impacted scandals.

    Donald Trump loves nothing more than macho posturing and making moves to divert attention from his most pressing problems. My great fear is that we may have a crossing of the three streams adverted to above — the failure of the DPRK denuclearization initiative, the ascendancy of John Bolton’s bellicose voice, and the ever-tightening Mueller investigation — and that when the inevitable explosion follows, there won’t be much more left of us than there was of Mister Stay Puft.

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that’s our fear in a nutshell.

      • W.T. Effingham
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        With a loose nut on the control panel👿.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I have a mental image of Mattis holding a secret meeting(without Bolton) where contingency plans are drawn up in the event Trump goes nuclear. Fail to obey orders and talk Trump down – if necessary with a tranquilizer injection.

      • Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, we still don’t know the identity of the person in Trump’s administration that wrote the famous “I’m an adult in the room” letter. Perhaps it was Mattis. Whoever it is, I hope they can protect us.

  9. Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    The Saudis are sticking with their “rendition gone awry” story. Left unanswered is why the fifteen goons sent by MBS to accomplish the mission brought a bone saw with them.

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I am curious about how we know they had a bone saw.

      • Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        On some news program I saw airport x-ray images that showed the bone saw and other “tools” in a suitcase.

      • Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        As far as I know, the bone saw is in an X-ray of the team’s luggage, and those X-rays, made by airport security, are available online.

      • W.Benson
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Also incriminating is the false beard disguise the Saudi team brought along and the fact that they took off Jamal Khashoggi’s suit without bloodying it, although that could also have been part of an abduction plot. If it was an abduction gone bad, someone has to explain how the Saudi’s planned to get Khashoggi through passport control at the Istanbul airport.

        • Jon Gallant
          Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Simplicity itself. The 15 team members could easily have conveyed Khashoggi through the airport in their hand-luggage, in 15 parts. Hence the need for a bone saw.

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      The bone saw is just evidence that the scheme “went awry” before the team left Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps this team always carries a bone saw with them. The whole “Oops! We accidentally murdered him!” excuse is so ridiculous.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Don’t all diplomatic delegations include an autopsy experts lugging a bone saw?

        • Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          I take one on long trips just to cut my toenails.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Come on! Nobody travels without a bone saw these days.

  10. CAS
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Trump approve sanctioning of the crown prince? No way! Trump would love to shut up journalists in the USA and lusts for the ability of Mohammed bin Salman and Putin who can silence them permanently with a word.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Re the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi: as I tried to explain at the time to another commenter who was insisting we wait for “all the evidence” (a commenter whom, I believe, our host may have since eighty-sixed), given our background information on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on the character of the Saudi regime in general, and on the penchant for perfidy of our “president,” Donald Trump, the Bayesian priors on this having been a hit ordered by MbS and of Trump lying to cover it up were sky-high. Add to that the facts that have trickled out since, and this is (as Julia Roberts told Richard Gere in Pretty Woman) a “sure thing.”

    The only question that remains is how far down the Orwellian rabbit-hole Donald Trump is will go to continue denying reality and to avoid taking any actions adverse to his Saudi Arabian benefactors.

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      I don’t really see much that would force Trump to take any action. He’s clearly in a mode where he drags things out as long as possible without making any real commitments, assuming it will all blow over soon. I see no evidence that this won’t succeed. The general public is not going to demand action for something that is so far from their daily lives.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Jamal Khashoggi was a green-card-holding permanent US resident employed as a distinguished journalist for a leading American newspaper. He was lured to a foreign consulate, tortured, murdered, and dismembered by a rogue regime without any cognizable claim of right under international law.

        If Trump gets away with burying this under his unceasing slurry of other outrageous mews, the United States can no longer lay claim to being Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.”

        • Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          We never could.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

            Maybe not, OG, but we’ve never been mired in an moral latrine like this before, either.

        • Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          As far as I’m concerned, our city on the hill turned the lights out when Trump got elected. The best we can hope for now is, once he’s out of office, the world will forgive us and consider it just a corrected mistake.

          • rickflick
            Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

            That’s an interesting question. I’m wondering, too, if there will be an almost instant sigh of relief and resumption of normal relations. I kind of think that’s likely, since virtually all the trouble in our international relations is due to Trump. Our friends and allies are aware of that. I think most of the damage inflicted by Trump is likely to last only as long as he struts and frets his hour upon the stage. As a matter of fact, upon taking office, the next president should already have a stack of executive orders ready to reverse 4 years of the lunatic’s term.

            • Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

              Along the same vein, I hope that the UK can reverse their Brexit nightmare before it passes the point of no return. All will be forgiven and forgotten!

              • rickflick
                Posted November 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                By all means, BrEnter.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

              “I think most of the damage inflicted by Trump is likely to last only as long as he struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”

              I suppose that all depends on the nature and character of whatever Macduff replaces this tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, doesn’t it? 🙂

              • rickflick
                Posted November 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

                Mike Pence? Yeah, well…

                The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted November 17, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

                Changin’ up tragedies and countries now, from Scotland to Denmark, huh?

              • rickflick
                Posted November 17, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

                Salmon is a prince, is he not? What a piece of work is this!

                Anything to get our current prince off the damn stage and back to sweeping and emptying the ash trays in a New Jersey casino where he belongs. On second thought…perhaps an orange jumpsuit?

          • Posted November 18, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            I think the world is paying little attention, and it didn’t even start with Trump. So whoever is elected, it will be OK, because expectations are low.

    • W.Benson
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US is Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, son of King Salman and brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It was Prince Khalid who — and I think I heard this affirmed today on CNN — supposedly informed Khashoggi that he could resolve the difficulty with his marriage document at SA’s Istanbul consulate with the assurance that this could be done safely. The CIA apparently monitored communications between the two princes. Ambassador Khalid returned to Saudi Arabia a couple of weeks after Khashoggi was murdered and until now has not gone back to Washington.

  12. Posted November 17, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t see anything we could do against North Korea or the Saudis. We still need their light crude. Even though we produce a lot of oil the quality is such that it does not meet all our needs. And Israel needs the Saudis as a protection against Iran. Another reason we will keep our Saudis relationship going.

    I don’t worry about us making a first strike.

    As to the Korean leader, he may believe is is doing what he is doing in order to prevent invasion by South Korea and the US. I can somewhat understand that considering we conduct or were conducting those way games within sight of the border. Those should have been stopped years ago.

    It is time to remove our fleet and troops from that part of the Pacific.

  13. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Given DT’s frequent assertions that journalists are ‘the enemy of the people’, would it be unfair to suggest that it is likely that he heartily approves of the murder of Khashoggi?

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and I suspect he also likes the idea of being able to murder one’s opponents.

      • Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Another sick comment.

        • GBJames
          Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          Yeah. He would limit it to simple assault and locking them up.

        • Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          So you really think Trump has a bottom? I doubt he really cares much about anything or anyone besides himself and how others regard him. He’s already mentioned that he could get away with killing someone. He shows a huge like for dictators who we know have killed many times over. I don’t think it is much of a stretch at all to imagine that he would kill if he thought he could get away with it.

    • Posted November 17, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      It would be much worse than unfair to say that. More like sick.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        What WOULD be fair to say, I think, is that Donald Trump doesn’t give a shit about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, since, as far as Trump is concerned, Khashoggi was just a malcontent with a funny name from a shithole country working for Jeff Bezos’s fake newspaper.

        As far as Trump’s concerned, the whole thing is no biggie and oughta be buried as quickly as possible where no one will ever find it, much like Khashoggi’s dismembered body.

    • Posted November 18, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the Saudis consulted him.

  14. Merilee
    Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Too bad they didn’t bring a portable wood-chipper along.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 17, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Not sure I agree 100% with your police work there, Margie. 🙂

      Though that would explain the tan Cierra caught on video outside the consulate in Istanbul.

  15. Posted November 19, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Interesting, but I generally dislike “anonymous official says” pieces.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      You may not like it, but that’s how much of what we know about government operations is provided.

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