The New York Times is reporting that American intelligence agencies believe that circumstantial evidence shows that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a role to play in the presumed assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is culpable in the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an appraisal that poses challenges to a White House intent on maintaining a close relationship with the kingdom,” the Times reports, with the caution that there is no direct link established yet. The paper adds: “But intelligence agencies have growing circumstantial evidence of the prince’s involvement — including the presence of members of his security detail and intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a possible plan to detain Mr. Khashoggi, according to American officials.”
Whatever conclusions intelligence agencies come to, every indication is that Trump administration is prepared to do what it can to shield Prince Mohammed from the accusation of murder.
As The Washington Post reports, “The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.”
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, has floated on possible solution. Giuliani says the administration concluded over a week ago that the Saudi government was guilty. “The only question is, was it directed from the crown prince or the king — or was it a group that was trying to please him?” Giuliani added.
In effect, Giuliani is offering the same defense of over-eager underlings that was used to exculpate the medieval monarch Henry II of England in 1170 CE for the murder of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry II reportedly said, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Zealous knights heard this question and acted on it, murdering Becket. Giuliani is in effect arguing that either the crown prince or the king said, “will no one rid me of this turbulent journalist?”