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The Saudi Arabian “investigation” into the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has reached a new excuse. In an official announcement from the Kingdom, Saudi officials have at last admitted that Khashoggi died, 18 days after he died. And the official announced reason that he died was … the 59-year-old journalist engaged in a fist fight with 15 military intelligence officers sent to have a nice chat with him.

This excuse may not be slotted in as version 5  in the tree of Official Saudi excuses.

Official Saudi responses to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi 
inside the Saudi consulate

1.0 Khashoggi left the consulate only a few minutes after entering.
   1.1 Through a back door.

2.0 We don’t know what happened to Khashoggi. It’s a mystery to us.
   2.1 Those guys in the airport were just tourists.

3.0 Rogue killers.
   3.1 That’s all. Just rogue killers.

4.0 He may have accidentally been killed while being “questioned.”
   4.1 Which could have involved questioning why he needs fingers.

5.0 He got into a scuffle during a “discussion” at the consulate.
   5.1 With 15 intelligence operatives half his age.
   5.2 Who just happened to be there.
   5.3 Whoops. Go to excuse 4.0.


As of Saturday, CNN reports that  Saudi officials were willing to place the blame on a group best described as “anybody except crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.” According to the Saudis, they are now holding 18 suspects, and two of bin Salman’s closest advisers have been dismissed. All of which has led Donald Trump to make a tough statement. As the New York Times reports, Trump “broke with his own intelligence agencies” to accept the latest Saudi excuse and declare he finds it credible. But then, Donald Trump has accepted every version presented by bin Salman. And he’s just as credible as the idea that Jamal Khashoggi died in a fist fight with people who just wanted to talk.

Saudi Arabia also has a point 5.4, which is that the widely reported bone saw is just a “product of Turkish media” and never existed. Which seems like a point that might be settled if they produced Khashoggi’s body. But they have not done so.

Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate to get paperwork connected to his upcoming marriage while his fiance waited outside. Once through the door, Khashoggi was attacked by a squad of Saudi Arabian operatives dispatched to capture, beat, torture, and murder him by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Within minutes of his entry, Khashoggi was dead and partially dismembered — but not in that order. And that’s what Donald Trump is excusing.

The US resident journalist was murdered in a diplomatic compound by men who flew into Turkey expressly for the purpose of beating, torturing, and murdering Khashoggi. Those men then returned to Saudi Arabia, taking the pieces of Khashoggi’s mutilated body back with them. That’s not an accident. That’s not a fist fight. That’s not excusable.

Except by Donald Trump. Who, of course, doesn’t not really believe what bin Salman is telling him. But he doesn’t have to believe, he just has to look away.

The Saudis have now announced that they will form a “commission” to look into Khashoggi’s death. And heading up that commission will be … crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Who will get to decide who, if anyone, acts as his official fall guy.

Because it really is turtles all the way down. Where “turtles” equals murderous despots who think 99.99 percent of the world consists of peons who will believe any bullshit they’re given.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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