Where Will the Khashoggi Affair Lead?

What can’t you hang on the bloody scaffolding of the Khashoggi affair? A fascinating article in The Federalist by Lee Smith, whose investigative reporting on the various Russia probes has been thorough and enlightening, raises some important questions. What was hinted at by Matthew Continetti’s editorial in the Washington Free Beacon is explored in a great deal more depth by Smith.

Here's a few issues he raises:

We don't know what we don't know, and the Turkish government more than the Saudis is holding the cards right now. They officially complain of lack of cooperation on the part of the Saudis in any investigation that is/might be/whotf knows being carried out regarding the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi was last seen entering very much alive a couple of weeks ago. Then the Turks unofficially leak about how audios and even videos show a 15-man Saudi swat team torturing, killing, and dismembering Khashoggi; in the confines of the consulate one assumes, but that detail hasn't really been cleared up.

Does this mean that the Turks are negotiating with the Saudi's? This might have to do with the Saudi/UAE versus Qatar split and the massive publicity campaigns both sides have undertaken to win favor in Washington. In other words, the Khashoggi disappearance should be seen against the back light of this regional stand-off where the Saudis accused Qatar of funding terrorism and destabilizing the Arabian Peninsula. What concessions on the part of the Saudis would pacify the Turks - that is Erdogan? Because Erdogan has clearly been on the side of Qatar in this regional conflict.

And that leads of course to Iran, and the old Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which the Trump administration has essentially dismantled. Has the media echo chamber that so lauded Obama's pivot to Tehran now launched a full-out assault on the Saudi kingdom, especially Prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Again, if any credible evidence comes out either showing Khashoggi alive or revealing he was in fact brutally murdered then this consideration becomes less important. But for now, the media really does matter in this diplomatic game of thrones.

The Saudis on Monday announced a plan for collaboration with Russia on developing natural gas fields in the Arctic in order to feed Asian markets. This is a direct challenge to America's rebirth in the gas export market thanks to shale oil and gas. This could be a big deal but surely Russia is going ahead with these plans whether or not the Saudis show up with pallets full of currency drained from their Swiss bank accounts and delivered in the dead of the night at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.

And an op-ed in Saudi State Media suggested letting the Russians build a military base in the kingdom should America retaliate with strict sanctions.

Meanwhile, President Trump has signaled that he values the jobs created by the enormous arms deal recently signed with the Saudis (who desperately need upgraded weaponry to maintain their Kingdom on its throne) and that any sanctions should come from somewhere else, putting him in conflict with those Senators who want tough sanctions now. As well, he floated a "rouge group" conspiracy theory that tries to suggest who the reported 15 security officials might be. Some killer rogue group, perhaps. Who are members of what? KAOS? Is this Trump's floating of a possible official story to explain away Khashoggi's disappearance? And who gave him that theory? Erdogan's police force or the Saudis? Or other intel sources? Jared Kushner?

That leaves us in the world of intelligence where the question is: who in the US intel community knew of possible plans to kidnap Khashoggi and when did they know it? Leaks suggest that relevant data may have been discovered after the disappearance indicating that the agencies might have overlooked a key warning to what is fast becoming an international crisis.

And of course, the other central figure in this is Mohammed Bin Salman, the young, ambitious and seemingly ruthless prince who may have laid this plan in order to render a harsh critic of his. Or even just to kill him straight off. If that's the case and MSB is indeed the future of the Saudi Throne, then he will have to do a lot of learning very quickly or he may find himself rendered in the brutal world of Middle Eastern power politics.

There will only be suboptimal outcomes as a result of this seemingly mad adventure. Let's hope they're not too tragic nor too violent.

Posted by Keeley at October 17, 2018 2:53 PM
Comment #433006


Hmmmm, looks like the democrats internal polling might not be showing a ‘blue wave.’ Already getting the excuses in place.

Posted by: kctim at October 18, 2018 9:34 AM
Comment #433060

From the linked article:

“Russian hackers were notoriously active in the 2016 election. Although President Donald Trump disputes it, evidence suggests that they were responsible for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, according to U.S. intelligence reports. They ran a disinformation campaign on Facebook and Twitter. They also attacked voter registration databases in 21 states, election management systems in 39 states and at least one election software vendor—and that’s only what the government’s intelligence services know about.”

The architecture for more Russian attacks on the election is already in place. But keep in mind goals for the Russian cyber attacks. They want to sow discord and undermine American confidence in its elections. And they want to help Trump stay in office.

State and local governments offer easy targets, as the article notes. It is not necessary to attack every state and municipality in order to undermine confidence in the vote. As for keeping Trump in office, the Russians only need to keep the Senate from seeing too many Democrats elected. It is a very achievable goal, and would only take attacks on a few states. They may decide not to risk it, since the House looks very likely to go the Democrats, and the Senate looks very likely to stay with the GOP.

Meanwhile, the far right is trying to justify the murder of Khashoggi. It just started, and the first tentative attempts to discredit Khashoggi have just been attempted by Limbaugh, FOX, and elsewhere. It is just embarrassing. Trump looked terrible, initially echoing the utterly implausible lie told to him by the Saudi King, the one about “rogue killers.” No one believes this. And I mean, no one. So the best possible thing would be to get this story out of the headlines with a distraction, and a perfect one has just been manufactured.

As breathlessly reported by FOX and elsewhere, a ‘caravan’ of 4,000 immigrants is coming to the US from Honduras. If they claim asylum at the border, legally, they must be admitted to receive a hearing, as American and international law dictate, and as the Constitution requires under the 5th amendment “due process” clause.

Oh noZ!!! A brown invasion! This is precisely the kind of story to whip up the hate among the racists and bigots that make up Trump’s base. It’s their best bet.

Posted by: phx8 at October 19, 2018 12:49 PM
Comment #433069

“And they (Russians) want to help Trump stay in office.”

Wow…has phx8 consulted with Putin on this pronouncement?

No acting U.S. government official has stated that the Russians changed a single vote in 2016. None, zip, zero.

President Trump is doing the correct thing on the Khashoggi disappearance. He is waiting for all the facts to be known before taking any action against anyone.

Unlike the Obama administration’s knee-jerk reaction to lie, misdirect, and confuse on the Benghazi incident, this CIC is dedicated to factual evidence.

Posted by: Royal Flush at October 19, 2018 3:20 PM
Comment #433070

Reuters Reporter: “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

Putin: “Yes, I wanted him to win, because he talked about the normalization of Russian–American relations.”
Helsinki, July 2018


“No acting U.S. government official has stated that the Russians changed a single vote in 2016.”

Curiously, the new Trump administration did not look into this, so we do not know if that is true. However, the Secretaries of State in charge of state elections did not believe the Russians used the compromising information obtained in 2016- “the voter registration databases in 21 states, election management systems in 39 states and at least one election software vendor—and that’s only what the government’s intelligence services know about.”

The Russian government conducted cyber warfare, information warfare. This is not new. The Russians have launched these kinds of attacks on many of our allies, sometimes quite openly, as in the case of France. Information warfare does not require physically changing votes. It uses data- the kind obtained by Cambridge Analytica- as well as social media, to change hearts and minds. If a voter is flooded with bad information… It also uses stolen material, such as that taken from the DNC, and publicizes it.

This is one of the least covered aspects of the 2016 attack on our election. The Trump campaign obtained the data analytics of the Clinton campaign. It was like going to the Super Bowl and obtaining the other team’s sequence of plays.

Trump was more than willing to cooperate with the Russians. In just the month of October he urged people to look at HRC’s stolen e-mails on Wikileaks over 130 times. “I love Wikileaks,” he said repeatedly. When the Access Hollywood video came out, Wikileaks released e-mails in just 30 minutes. And Wikileaks, as CIA Director Pompeo has said, is a hostile non-state intelligence operation often acting on behalf of the Russians.

“He is waiting for all the facts to be known before taking any action against anyone.”

Baloney. Give US intelligence some credit. We knew within hours. And then we waited five days to give the Saudis a chance to come up with a story. The Saudi King told
Trump a whopper about “rogue killers” and Trump repeated it like a total tool.

Of course, when the president ignores the emoluments clause in the Constitution, this is the kind of thing that happens. The clause is in the Constitution for a good reason, and George Washington set the example Now we are seeing why it is a good idea, and why Trump is such a bad president.

Posted by: phx8 at October 19, 2018 3:45 PM
Comment #433071

phx8 agrees that no evidence exists to prove the Russians stole a single vote in the 2016 election. Good.

phx8 wrote; “And they (Russians) want to help Trump stay in office.” The Putin quote phx8 provided is; “I wanted him to win…” Much has changed since July and phx8 is confusing “past” tense with “present” tense.

phx8 mind reads and says; “We knew within hours.”

I challenge him to back this up. He can’t of course. It is just his usual shoot from the hip and kill an innocent bystander mindset.

Posted by: Royal Flush at October 19, 2018 4:16 PM
Comment #433072

Do you understand the outcome of an election can be changed using cyber warfare?

Posted by: phx8 at October 19, 2018 4:37 PM
Comment #433073

Do you understand the outcome of an election can be changed using cyber warfare?
Posted by: phx8 at October 19, 2018 4:37 PM

Hmmm…and not a single acting government official noticed that votes were changed?

Question: does phx8 believe cyber warfare is limited to foreign nations?

phx8 has lots of assumptions, but no proof of any vote stealing.

Posted by: Royal Flush at October 19, 2018 4:51 PM
Comment #433098

This is a direct challenge to America’s rebirth in the gas export market thanks to shale oil and gas. This could be a big deal but surely Russia is going ahead with these plans whether or not the Saudis show up with pallets full of currency drained from their Swiss bank accounts and delivered in the dead of the night at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport….

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Comment #433168

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Comment #433172

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Posted by: sonam kumari at October 22, 2018 5:39 AM
Comment #433184
phx8 bot wrote: Do you understand the outcome of an election can be changed using cyber warfare?
There is voter fraud, including voting by illegal immigrants, some dead people, and most are voting Democrat. But many Democrats don’t care, because they have despicably pandered to illegal immigrants for years, and illegal immigration benefits Democrats demographically (via more representation via CENSUS, since CENSUS does not verify citizenship).

Read this report, which verifies voter fraud by 92 Democrats and 20 Republicans (i.e. 82% by Democrats, and 18% by Republicans).

HHMMmmmm … none of the following were found to be Russians.
Russians have enough problems with their own elections.

But here is evidence that illegal immigrants are voting in our elections (due to despicable panderaing by Democrats).
It may not be enough to change elections yet, but it could matter in close elections:

  • www.wfmynews2.com/article/news/local/19-illegal-immigrants-in-nc-voted-in-2016-election-feds/83-587333046
  • fairus.org/issue/societal-impact/noncitizens-voting-violations-and-us-elections
  • www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/san-francisco-allows-undocumented-immigrants-vote-school-elections-n893221
  • www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Mexican-national-pleads-guilty-to-illegal-voting-13228190.php
  • www.heritage.org/election-integrity/commentary/more-cases-voter-fraud-pile-liberals-look-the-other-way
  • www.heritage.org/election-integrity/commentary/add-these-voter-fraud-cases-the-growing-list
  • www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article219920740.html
  • www.foxnews.com/politics/mexican-woman-charged-with-voter-fraud-accused-of-illegally-voting-in-2016-election
  • www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Mexican-national-indicted-for-illegal-voting-in-12914425.php
  • www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/grandmother-deported-voter-fraud-leaves-u-s-tears-n789766
  • www.cnsnews.com/news/article/annabel-scott/govt-employees-arrested-allegedly-selling-false-ids-illegal-aliens-voter
  • www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_e714d3b6-5f99-11e8-b5d6-bfc6cb82714e.html
  • www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2017-02-10/urbana-man-charged-living-voting-us-illegally.html
  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSbe4fK1crg (registered in multiple cities, and voted five times; she blames Trump)
  • www.krgv.com/story/38258409/2-arrested-in-hidalgo-co-for-voter-fraud
  • townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2018/07/29/22-illegal-aliens-arrested-in-identity-fraud-scheme-n2504580
  • www.dallasnews.com/news/elections/2017/07/13/suspect-west-dallas-vote-fraud-arrested-month-run
  • newbostonpost.com/2017/08/02/feds-bust-six-in-alleged-rmv-identity-fraud-scheme-to-benefit-illegal-immigrants/
  • www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/illegal-aliens-really-do-vote-and-always-for-democrats
  • www.ice.gov/news/releases/illegal-alien-arrested-charged-voter-fraud
  • thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/312239-feds-should-worry-less-about-russia-more-about-illegal-voters

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Comment #434329

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Comment #434503

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