Trump to Help Saudis Whitewash Khashoggi’s Murder: Ex-CIA Officer
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A former military intelligence officer with the CIA said US President Donald Trump will help cover up likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi, adding that the Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for his death.
“The cover story to explain what happened is developing but it will no doubt consist of the Saudis will claim that Khashoggi was being questioned over some legal matter and the interrogation became too violent and he died. That is obviously false because the Saudis from the plane were carrying a bone saw with them that could be used to cut up a body, so they anticipated killing him. But Turkey can be bought off on this issue ... and the United States will also accept that explanation to keep the Saudis from responding in ways that will damage the energy economy and impact on the US of petrodollars, which is how Washington is able to keep printing money without any backing,” Philip Giraldi told Tasnim.
Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the US government in the Middle East.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: As you know, journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get documents for his forthcoming marriage. Saudi officials say he left shortly afterwards but Turkish officials and his fiancée, who was waiting outside, said he never came out. What is your take on his disappearance and likely murder?
Giraldi: It is now clear that he was murdered, dismembered and his body parts were flown back to Saudi Arabia on an executive jet together with a party of 15 Saudis who carried out the killing. It is widely believed that he was killed because he had increasingly become a critic of the Crown Prince, which does appear to be the only possible motive.
Tasnim: In one of your latest articles published on the online journal “Strategic Culture”, you said, “Getting to the bottom of the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance is a bit like peeling an onion”. Please explain more on this.
Giraldi: As you peel an onion you discover that there is one more layer you have to deal with before moving on. In this case, the onion consists of what exactly the Turks know to be true and how they know it. I believe that from the evidence already obtained, the Turks had microphones hidden in the Consulate General offices and were listening in to what was taking place. The next layer of the onion after you have accepted that is to ask why they are not openly revealing what they have. They are looking for a gift of lots of Saudi money to make the crime go away in my opinion.
Tasnim: “The trick will be to see how a bit of extreme brutal behavior by the Saudis can be manipulated by all interested parties to produce a solution that doesn’t damage anyone too much. It will undoubtedly be far from the truth, but truth doesn’t necessarily matter much these days,” you mentioned in the article. Please tell us more about the “solution”?
Giraldi: The cover story to explain what happened is developing but it will no doubt consist of the Saudis will claim that Khashoggi was being questioned over some legal matter and the interrogation became too violent and he died. That is obviously false because the Saudis from the plane were carrying a bone saw with them that could be used to cut up a body, so they anticipated killing him. But Turkey can be bought off on this issue as I explained above and the United States will also accept that explanation to keep the Saudis from responding in ways that will damage the energy economy and impact on the US of petrodollars, which is how Washington is able to keep printing money without any backing.
Tasnim: In his latest remarks, US President Donald Trump defended Saudi Arabia from what he characterized as efforts to condemn Riyadh over the disappearance of Khashoggi before all the facts were known, saying it was a case of “guilty until proven innocent.” What do you think?
Giraldi: Donald Trump is accepting in advance what will probably become the Saudi explanation, i.e. that it was an operation mounted without the Crown Prince's knowledge that went too far and killed Khashoggi. That is obviously false on both counts but it is what the White House is prepared to accept.
Tasnim: When do you think the world would smell the coffee and stand up to Saudi human rights violations?
Giraldi: As long as Saudi Arabia has a lot of money to use to corrupt politicians in many countries it will continue to be able to escape punishment for its many human rights violations. Money is power, unfortunately.
Tasnim: Experts and reports suggest that Saudi Arabia could not kill Khashoggi without US support and approval. Do you think certain spy agencies were involved in this?
Giraldi: No. They would have advised the Saudis not to do it for obvious reasons, i.e. that it could not be concealed and would have considerable and unpredictable blowback. Plus, Khashoggi was in his writing fairly friendly both to Israel and the US, otherwise, he would not have been employed by the Washington Post.