Washington Post journalist is likely casualty in the war on truth

In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Khashoggi was a Saudi insider. He rubbed shoulders with the Saudi royal family and supported its efforts to nudge the entrenched ultraconservative clerics to accept reforms. He was a close aide to the kingdom’s former spy chief and was a leading voice in the country’s prominent dailies. In a dramatic twist of fate, Khashoggi disappeared on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, after visiting his country’s consulate in Istanbul and may have been killed there. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

The war against journalists likely claimed another victim when Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalist, and a thorn in the side of the Saudi royal family, visited his country’s consulate in Turkey and never came out.

It’s believed Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, a claim that is hotly denied by Saudi Arabia, a country that is against everything America has traditionally stood for, but gets a pass because it has oil.

“We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” said an advisor to the president of Turkey.

Saudi Arabia says he left the consulate, but his girlfriend — they were to be married the next day — waited outside for four hours. It’s easy to prove Saudi Arabia’s claim; there are security cameras surrounding the consulate but the video has not been released. Turkey also hasn’t provided any evidence.

Historically, there has been a bright light on the planet to stand up to this sort of thugishness. There is, however, no longer a moral authority left to say “no” to the slaughter of journalists who threaten those in power.

“The U.S. needs to insist that the government come clean,” said the head of the Committee to Protect Journalists. .

In an editorial, the Washington Post also calls on the United States to do something the United States is currently unlikely to do: give a damn.

The United States, too, should demand answers, loud and clear. President Trump has treated the Saudi crown prince as a favored ally, and his administration sidestepped criticism of the regime’s abuses. The State Department’s recent decision to certify that Saudi forces were taking adequate steps to avoid civilian casualties in Yemen — against all the evidence — sent a terribly wrong message. The United States must now make a concerted effort to determine all the facts about Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. If the crown prince does not respond with full cooperation, Congress must, as a first step, suspend all military cooperation with the kingdom.

We are hoping against hope that Mr. Khashoggi is unharmed and will soon return to his writing desk. If the reports of his murder prove true, grief must be accompanied by accountability for those who carried out the murder and those who ordered it.

Jamal Khashoggi, who went to the consulate to get papers needed for his marriage, was murdered because he chose to tell the truth, his Washington Post colleague David Ignatius writes in an op-ed today.

Khashoggi was passionate for reform of an Arab Muslim world that he considered corrupt and dishonest. He grew up in Medina, the son of a Palestinian immigrant who owned a small textile shop. He went to the United States for college, attending Indiana State University. He also embraced Islam, joining the Muslim Brotherhood and, in the late 1970s, befriending the young Osama bin Laden, whom he tried to turn against violence.

Khashoggi failed to dissuade bin Laden. But he never temporized about the evil that al-Qaeda brought to Saudi Arabia and the world. He wrote a column for the Daily Star in Beirut on Sept. 10, 2002, titled “A Saudi mea culpa.” At a time when many Saudis were still finding excuses for the al-Qaeda killers, Khashoggi described Sept. 11 as an attack on “the values of tolerance and coexistence,” and on Islam itself.

Karen Attiah, of the Post, told NPR this morning the journalist had fled to Washington out of fear for his own safety.

“He really loved Saudi Arabia and he just wanted to write. He didn’t want to be a dissident. He just wanted to write about his version of the truth. That’s what makes this so hard to deal with.”