THE NEW account of Jamal Khashoggi’s death offered by Saudi Arabia on Thursday was shocking in its audacity. Having previously acknowledged that the journalist was the victim of premeditated murder, authorities in Riyadh reverted to an earlier, discredited tale: that Mr. Khashoggi was killed spontaneously inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by a team sent to return him to Saudi Arabia.
.. By offering up this incredible account, the Saudi regime is baldly defying all those, including leading members of Congress, who called for full disclosure and accountability. Yet the Trump administration appears ready to accept its stonewalling.
.. Accepting the Saudi story means ignoring a number of well-established facts. An audio recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s last moments, which Turkish officials shared with CIA Director Gina Haspel, indicates he was attacked and strangled immediately after entering the consulate. The Saudi version claims he died only after a quarrel and a struggle that prompted the head of the “negotiation team” to decide to murder him by injecting him with drugs.
.. The Saudi account says the operation was ordered by the then-deputy chief of intelligence, Ahmed al-Assiri, and advised by Saud al-Qahtani, a court propagandist. Both are close to Mohammed bin Salman. The two aides, so Riyadh’s story goes, were not complicit in the decision to kill Mr. Khashoggi and were fooled by their team’s claim that the journalist had left the consulate alive.
.. That doesn’t explain a portion of the audio recording reported by the New York Times, in which Maher Mutreb, a close associate of the crown prince, instructs an official by phone to “tell your boss” that the mission was accomplished. As the Times reported, U.S. intelligence officials believe the “boss” is “almost certainly Prince Mohammed.”
.. Other contradictions and improbabilities abound. It’s known that a forensic expert who specializes in autopsies was on the Saudi team; the Turks said he arrived with a bone saw for dismembering Mr. Khashoggi’s body. Yet the Saudis would have the world believe that the specialist was recruited only to clean up any evidence of an abduction, and that officials in Riyadh didn’t know about him.
.. This all-too-transparent tissue of lies only underlines the need for a genuinely independent international investigation led by the United Nations
.. Instead, the Trump administration is abetting the Saudi coverup; the new sanctions do not even cover Mr. Assiri, the official who Riyadh says ordered the Khashoggi mission.
It was a premeditated temper tantrum gone viral.
there’s no evidence any of that was true. It was in fact a premeditated temper tantrum gone viral, featuring one 69-year-old Vietnamese-American David Dao, a medical doctor who’d lost his license, planning a lawsuit from the moment United first politely asked him to give up his seat. He demanded to be dragged and, when police obliged, struck his lip on an armrest. From the many videos taken by numerous passengers, from numerous angles, there’s no evidence of a beating, a “serious” concussion, or bodily damage beyond that lip.
Although some like the Huffington Post want us to ignore his sordid past as inconsequential or “blaming the victim,” it’s important that Dao in 1995 was charged with 98 felony drug counts for illegally prescribing and trafficking painkillers, sometimes in exchange for homosexual sex. (He’s married. To a woman.) That normally would get you identified as unreliable. He surrendered his medical license and even now is allowed to practice internal medicine only in an outpatient facility one day a week.
.. To be sure, United deserves blame and played into Dao’s hands
.. But once he was asked to give up his seat, along with three other passengers who willingly obliged, Dao’s mental gears began to whirl. One video depicts him telling someone by telephone “I make lawsuit against United Airlines for discrimination.” Yet another video shows him insisting that he be dragged. All the while he held up the departure, as indeed he would again as everyone had to leave while the blood was cleaned up.
.. This is obvious nonsense, so how did he get so far with it?
.. The London Independent went so far as to say Dao’s life was “ruined,” while one of his team of attorneys asserted Dao “said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam.” By tomorrow it will be worse than having been gassed at Auschwitz.
.. Thirteen years ago I penned a column called “Victims Are Our New Heroes,”