It’s a mystery to rival “Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?”
Is the de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS to Vlad Putin and his many party pals) responsible for the recent death in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi?
President Trump is unconvinced. As always, Trump’s word is good enough for me. After all, Trump’s word is his bond — at least until he has to post bond.
Perhaps Trump’s advisers might have convinced the president that MBS was behind the Khashoggi murder. But Trump’s chief foreign national security adviser, John “I am the Walrus” Bolton, said he couldn’t listen to a tape of Khashoggi’s murder because he knew no one who spoke Arabic. This admission explains not only why Trump cannot conclude foul play was involved in Khashoggi’s death, but why American policy has so long been unsuccessful in the Mideast — a simple absence of translators.
For not jumping to the obvious conclusions on Khashoggi’s death, Trump has received unfair blame, as is so often the case where mere facts contradict his claims.
Evidently, the press has overlooked many sound alternative explanations for Khashoggi’s supposed murder by 16 Saudi government henchmen at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
What do we actually know of the journalist’s demise?
Just that Khashoggi was choked to death and sawed into several sections, some of which were shipped back to Riyadh, while one finger was independently (and thoughtfully, I might add) mailed to MBS.
I believe Trump and Bolton are diligently pursuing all possible avenues to account for the murder. (I also believe in the Tooth Fairy and Little Bunny Frou-Frou.) Some highly plausible alternative theories to a Khashoggi assassination have been proposed by the Trump administration, including these scenarios:
FREE AIRFARE: Khashoggi chose the consulate in Istanbul as the site for his own suicide, reckoning that the Saudi government might ship his lifeless body back to his homeland without charge. After finding the process of asphyxiation annoyingly slow, he sawed himself into pieces, hoping thereby he could conveniently fit into an overhead compartment for the flight home.
SHOW BUSINESS: Khashoggi and his alleged “assailants” were all would-be prestidigitators trying out a magic act for the annual Saudi Consulate Talent Show. Abjuring the hoary “saw-a-woman-in-half” trick, Khashoggi was rehearsing the role of “Man-Sawed-in-Sixteenths.” Further rehearsal might have produced a more successful illusion, but Khashoggi precipitously dropped out of the act.
BACON: In a weak moment, en route to his consulate appointment, Khashoggi consumed a fast-food BLT. Swiftly reconsidering the heresy of eating pork, Khashoggi asked consulate personnel to assist in purging him of the sacrilegious sandwich. Overzealous and inexperienced medical personnel inadvertently asphyxiated the journalist by following a Heimlich maneuver they’d learned from a Three Stooges video.
BAD JOKE: Problems began when Khashoggi, an inveterate prankster, told a visa officer this knock-knock joke:
OFFICER: “Who is it?”
OFFICER: “MBS who?”
KHASHOGGI: “WE will ask the questions!”
Khashoggi was regrettably unaware that the Saudi penalty for making political knock-knock jokes is death by drawing-and-quartering, then quartering again. (The extra quartering is part of MBS’s new Saudi math curriculum.) Recently recovered notes from Khashoggi, written on CIA stationery, indicate the journalist had hoped to follow this comic opener with the classic, “I just flew in, officer, and boy, are my arms tired.” However, as Khashoggi was swiftly freed of his appendages, the joke would surely have fallen flat.
COSTUME PARTY: Khashoggi’s actual motive for visiting the consulate was to attend a secretive and exclusive pre-Chanukah soiree there. (Given the theme, the reasons for secrecy are self-evident.) Khashoggi’s unfortunate choice of attire caused a party-pooping of epic proportions. Attired as former Iranian Prime Minister Akbar Rafsanjani, Khashoggi launched into a rousing edition of “Ayatollah Not to Go” while hoisting a Yemeni flag. Not unexpectedly, Khashoggi was furiously attacked. Homicide, yes. But any jury would surely acquit the assailants for just cause.
Whichever of these scenarios — highly plausible, all — resulted in Khashoggi’s death we may never know, thanks to the spurious evidence of authenticated video and audio recordings, physical remains, and electronic messages indicating his was a targeted killing.
One fact is certain: Khashoggi has clearly recanted his attacks on MBS. Not once since his consulate encounter has the disassembled journalist criticized the Saudi Government. Lesson learned.