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Turkish Authorities Knew About Jamal Khashoggi's Murder Within Minutes—What About the US?

It also seems almost impossible that the United States intelligence agencies don’t have most, or all, of the information available to the Turkish authorities.

Turkish forensic police search for evidence inside residence of the Saudi Arabian consulate general,Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has an whole ocean of information about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The hit was ordered by Saudi royals, carried out by Saudi intelligence in the Saudi consulate in full view of the consul. When it comes to “investigating,” there’s nothing really there to investigate. When Donald Trump or Mike Pompeo insists on giving the Saudi royals more time to produce a report, the question isn’t investigation. It’s just editing.

By their own accounts, the information available to Turkish authorities is at least enough to fill a decent swimming pool. They claim to have both audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was murdered within minutes of entering the consulate in Istanbul. That includes particularly gruesome evidence indicating that Saudi operatives were waiting to take Khashoggi captive as soon as he entered and began their “interrogation” by cutting off the journalists fingers. One at a time. 

According to CNN, Turkish authorities had this information in near real time. They had an idea of what had happened to Khashoggi soon enough that Turkish authorities could rush to the airport, disguise themselves as airport workers, and take a peek into one of the Saudi planes before the team of assassins flew away from Istanbul. And they had enough detail about what had happened to ask a particularly ghastly question.

Reporter: They actually asked the man in charge of the X-ray machine at the airport if it would have been likely that human body parts would show up on the scan when those Saudi bags went through.


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The Saudi authorities know what happened. The Turkish authorities know what happened. But what about US intelligence and the members of Trump’s White House. Is their information measured in buckets or teaspoons?

According to Republican Senator Bob Corker, American intelligence knows more than it wants to tell. A briefing scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled. And while CBS reports that some senators are still receiving one-on-one briefings, Corker considered the closing of normal intelligence channels a sign that “probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to Saudi Arabia.” Whatever has be said to those senators who have been briefed, it doesn’t seem to be exculpatory for the Saudis in general or crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, because no one is rushing to provide unvarnished support … no one but Trump.

It seems likely that, even if Turkish authorities didn’t monitor their bug in the Saudi consulate 24/7, following a call from Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancé, someone got on the stick and listened in to the last few hours. As soon as the Turkish agents understood what had happened, they went into overdrive in an attempt to find evidence of Khashoggi’s murder, all the while hampered by the niceties of international diplomatic immunity.

It also seems almost impossible that the United States intelligence agencies don’t have most, or all, of the information available to the Turkish authorities. Still, on Friday afternoon, Donald Trump was insisting that Mike Pompeo had not heard any audio of Jamal Khashoggi being chopped apart.

Nothing says respect for the free press like screaming “fake news” about the investigation into the brutal murder of a journalist.  

The Saudis know what happened. Turkey knows what happened. US intelligence knows what happened. Donald Trump knows what happened. Now Trump is just following the sage advice given by the unsung diplomatic genius of the White House.

Mr. Kushner has argued that the outrage over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing will pass, just as it did after other Saudi errors like the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and the killing of a busload of children in Yemen by a Saudi airstrike.

Mix in a smear campaign to turn Khashoggi into a “terrorist sympathizer” and Trump thinks if he can just keep America ignorant long enough, this will all work out for him. And ignorance is his speciality.

Mark Sumner is on the Daily Kos staff and is the author of the nonfiction work "The Evolution of Everything" as well as several novels including "Devil's Tower."