Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
In October of 2018, Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi stepped into a Saudi embassy in Istanbul to deal with what was supposed to be routine paperwork related to his upcoming marriage. His fiancée was waiting outside. He never returned.
Though it took months for the details of the story to emerge, it was clear almost from the beginning that Khashoggi has been the victim of Saudi usurper—and friend to both Donald Trump and Jared Kushner—Mohammed bin Salman. When more of the story did emerge, it could not have been more disturbing. It showed how bin Salman dispatched a murder squad to intercept Khashoggi, beat him, torture him, dismember him, and then murder him … in that order. When the journalist was dead, a member of the team that had killed him donned his clothing and walked around Istanbul in an effort to plant a false trail. Finally, it seems that Khashoggi's remains were burned in an ovenspecially created for that purpose.
I have no information to go along with this, but …
As the horrific details emerged, Donald Trump continued to stand by bin Salman. Trump refused to sanction the "Crown Prince"—who inserted himself into that position after conducting an internal coup that saw multiple members of his own family either killed or sent into exile. Trump also refused to produce a required report about the murder, saying he had a "right to refuse" the clear letter of the law.
There may be no better signal of how President Joe Biden is returning justice to America's foreign policy than this: On Thursday, the White House will finally release the report. And it clearly shows bin Salman is responsible for the murder of American resident Jamal Khashoggi.
As CNN reported on Wednesday, court documents from a civil suit filed in Canada included documents explicitly showing bin Salman's orders to send the hit team after Khashoggi. Those documents show how the murder squad—which came prepared with bone saws and other tools to both torture the journalist and take his body apart when it was all over—was dispatched using a private aviation company that bin Salman took over just months before. This private fleet of planes gave bin Salman the capacity he needed to get a 15-man team in and out of Istanbul without having to line his bloody killers up for seats on a commercial aircraft.
It's just one more piece of evidence in a case that was already definitive in showing how bin Salman ordered the hit against Khashoggi, arranged the gruesome details, and gloated over his success. After which Trump and Kushner refused to hold him to account, with Kushner advising the crown murderer to just lay low for a bit until the press got distracted by other events. Trump certainly did not allow the murder of a U.S. resident journalist to get in the way of making enormous arms sales to bin Salman.
But as NBC News reports, Thursday will see a big shift in the relationship between the United States and the man currently calling the shots in Saudi Arabia. That's because the U.S. will release a report that clearly shows how bin Salman approved and directed the murder of Khashoggi.
According to NBC's sources, this is not a new report. This is the report that Trump refused to release in 2018. That means this report isn't just a condemnation of bin Salman, it's also another strong condemnation of Trump.
Trump knew all along that his pal bin Salman was a raging murderer. But then, Trump didn't care, just as he didn't care that bin Salman oversaw a growing number of executions each year, with hundreds of people being beheaded, hung, or crucified for defying his reign. For one thing, Trump likes seeing people executed. For another, bin Salman "pays in cash." Trump doesn't consider bin Salman a bad guy just because he seized control illegally, chased down members of his own family, carried out a brutal proxy war in which thousands of children have died, and went to enormous lengths to carry out the murder of a journalist that included cutting off the man's fingers one by one. Trump considers bin Salman a role model.
But he's not a model of what anyone should consider a just leader or a reliable ally. As Reuters reports, the report—which has until now been hidden behind a Top Secret stamp applied under Trump—makes clear bin Salman's complicity in the torture and murder of Khashoggi. The release of the report signals not just that the United States holds bin Salman personally responsible for this death, but that the nation will be reexamining its relationship with the government in Riyadh and the horrendous Saudi record on human rights.
Bin Salman still has plenty of leftover U.S. bombs for attacking civilian areas of Yemen. He's also unlikely to ever face justice for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But at least the United States won't be hurrying back to kiss his feet any time soon.
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