Monday, March 18, 2019

Meat The Press, Con't

So turns out Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan isn't a very nice person, especially when it comes to dangerously fascist theocratic obliteration of dissent.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign.

At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October, suggesting that his killing was a particularly egregious part of a wider campaign to silence Saudi dissidents, according to the officials and associates of some of the Saudi victims.

Members of the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, which American officials called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, were involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017, the officials said.

Some of the operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and detaining and abusing prisoners in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, the officials and associates said.

One of the Saudis detained by the group, a university lecturer in linguistics who wrote a blog about women in Saudi Arabia, tried to kill herself last year after being subjected to psychological torture, according to American intelligence reports and others briefed on her situation.

The rapid intervention team had been so busy that last June its leader asked a top adviser to Prince Mohammed whether the crown prince would give the team bonuses for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence reports.

Details about the operations come from American officials who have read classified intelligence assessments about the Saudi campaign, as well as from Saudis with direct knowledge of some of the operations. They spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions from disclosing classified information or, in the case of the Saudis, from angering the Saudi government.

A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington said the kingdom “takes any allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously.”

Two observations:

One, I cannot understate how close the Trump regime is to the Crown Prince.  Jared Kushner's vulnerability to blackmail and other leverage to a man like MBS is such a screamingly awful threat to US national security that at this point we have to assume the Saudis have so much compromising info on him that they can do whatever they want and America will be complicit.  Kushner owes the Saudis billions, guys.  This is terrible news.  We know what MBS is willing to do to his own people, imagine what he's got on Trump's family.

Two, somebody should remind the NY Times that its coverage of the Saudi regime and especially MBS hasn't exactly been objective at times, and he's far from the only one.  The Saudi efforts to cover up their operations wouldn't have been as successful as it was without a compliant American press and mindless "pundits" like Tom Friedman at the Times and David Ignatius at the Washington Post, just to name two.

The Trump regime will never actually censure MBS, of course.  We're absolutely complicit in his fascism, hell our White House is taking notes on what they did and salivating at the chance to use those tactics here.

We're probably not far off from that point, either.

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