Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Khashoggi protest

Activists on Friday delivered a petition to the U.S. State Department demanding justice for journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul nearly three weeks ago. (Photo: Ford Fischer/News2Share)

'We Call BS': As Saudi Arabia Claims Khashoggi Killed in 'Fistfight,' Trump White House Issues 'Laughably Weak' Response

Saudi Arabia's "explanation for the arbitrary execution of Jamal Khashoggi is just not plausible. No government should accept it," says U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions

Jessica Corbett

"We call BS," declared CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin on Friday after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia finally confirmed that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul—but also claimed he died in "fistfight" gone wrong rather than the widely suspected grisly torture and assassination by a hit team acting on orders from the highest levels of Saudi leadership.

The Kingdom later updated its explanation, according to a CNN reporter, to say that Khashoggi was killed in a chokehold during a fight. Turkish officials, meanwhile, have alleged to the press that a team of Saudi agents—including a doctor specializing in autopsies—brought a bone saw into the consulate, where they tortured, killed, and dismembered Khashoggi.

Breaking down the past nearly three weeks since Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident, entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey but never reemerged—despite Saudi Arabia's initial claims to the contrary—activist and writer Shaun King also called "bullshit" on the official Saudi explanation.

Saudi Arabia's "explanation for the arbitrary execution of Jamal Khashoggi is just not plausible. No government should accept it or the pretense at investigation," warned U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard. "We need a trustworthy, impartial, and transparent investigation. To identify the killers and the mastermind."

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California dismissed the Saudi explanation as "ridiculous on its face."

"The stupidity of the Saudi explanation is mind boggling," Karen Attiah, global opinions editor for the Post, concluded in a series of tweets. "What I hate about the statement is the use of the passive construction to imply this was an accident. Jamal didn't just 'die during a struggle.' #Khashoggi was killed. By Saudi men. In a consulate. His life was taken from him."

Critics also condemned the Trump administration's response to the latest developments. In a statement that journalist Chris Hayes decried as "laughably weak," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged the Kingdom's admission that Khashoggi is dead and that it "has taken action against the suspects." The Kingdom announced Friday that it has fired five top officials and taken 18 people in custody.

The White House statement also vowed the Trump administration would to "continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process."  U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has been ridiculed for naively accepting denials of any wrongdoing by Saudi royals and ignoring mounting evidence that a team of Saudis murdered Khashoggi.

The president—who also has rebuffed demands that the U.S. cut off arms sales to the Kingdom and military assistance for the war in Yemen in light of Khashoggi's killing—even has been accused of conspiring with Saudi officials to obstruct justice. Responding to the reports on Friday, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: "Of course! KHASHOGGI DIED BOXING! Trump and the Saudi dictator finally have their lying story worked out."

Asked about Saudi Arabia's new claims late Friday, Trump told reporters he has confidence in the "fistfight" explanation and called the supposed findings a "good first step." VoteVets pushed back against Trump's remarks on Twitter:

Saudi Arabia has now set up a commission that is reportedly being led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MbS—the heir to the throne and an accused war criminal known for his cozy relationships with the American elite, including Trump—to overhaul the Saudi intelligence operation. Notably, shortly after Khashoggi disappeared, MbS told Bloomberg News that the journalist had left the consulate unharmed.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut—who often has advocated for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has produced the world's worst humanitarian crisis—denounced the Saudi explanation as "preposterous" and demanded American action in response to the initial lie that Khashoggi hadn't been killed, but did not offer further details.

"The admission by Saudi authorities that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in their custody plainly exposes all their previous claims about his fate as flagrant lies," PEN America senior director of Free Expression Programs Summer Lopez said in a statement. "The Saudi regime must not be allowed to hide behind lies in order to literally get away with murder." 

"It is absurd to entrust the investigation of Khashoggi's murder to those most likely to have ordered it," Lopez added. "Turkey should call on the U.N. secretary general to authorize an independent, international investigation to expose the truth and lay the groundwork for holding those behind this grievous crime fully responsible."

This post has been updated with comment from PEN America and to clarify a statement by VoteVets.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Hanging Your Constituents Out to Dry': 5 Sinema Advisers Quit in Protest

"You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people."

Brett Wilkins ·

Leaked Docs Reveal Fossil Fuel-Soaked Nations Lobbying to Sabotage Climate Action

"They are using every opportunity to protect their corporate interests and continue with business as usual while the planet burns."

Andrea Germanos ·

Big Pharma, Rich Nations Have Delivered Just 14% of Vaccine Doses Promised to Poor Nations

"It is painfully clear that the developing world cannot rely on the largesse and charity of rich nations and pharmaceutical companies, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying from Covid-19 as a result."

Julia Conley ·

AOC Warns That Corporate Lobbyists Would Love People to 'Give Up Before the Deal Is Done'

"It's way easier for them to try to get away with the things that they're lobbying for and against if people at home aren't watching," said the New York Democrat

Jon Queally ·

Tlaib Leads Call for Biden to Take 'Commonsense Steps' to Aid Afghan Evacuees

"Our country has long offered shelter to those seeking refuge from catastrophe. Now is the time to continue that tradition and stand beside Afghan evacuees in need."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo