TIME Person of The Year: The Guardians (Journalists)

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TIME magazine has named its person of the year, and it is collectively journalists who have been murdered or imprisoned in pursuit of the truth. The Guardians And The War on Truth:

Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette newspaper staff, which lost five members in a newsroom shooting this year; jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, imprisoned in Myanmar for their coverage of the Rohingya crisis; and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, who was arrested after criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

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As TIME reports:

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Khashoggi put his faith in bearing witness. He put it in the field reporting he had done since youth, in the newspaper editorship he was forced out of and in the columns he wrote from lonely exile. “Must we choose,” he asked in the Washington Post in May, “between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?” Khashoggi had fled his homeland last year even though he actually supported much of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda in Saudi Arabia. What irked the kingdom and marked the journalist for death was Khashoggi’s insistence on coming to that conclusion on his own, tempering it with troubling facts and trusting the public to think for itself.

Such independence is no small thing. It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen. Because the strongmen of the world only look strong. All despots live in fear of their people. To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.

Like the budding authoritarian despots in the Trump administration who have given the Saudi government a pass for murdering Khashoggi and who are actively engaged in providing a cover up for the crime in order to protect their own financial interests with the Saudis. Jared Kushner advised Saudi prince on how to ‘weather’ Khashoggi slaying, report says:

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been a promoter of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman since the early days of the administration and recently offered the prince advice on how to handle the outrage over the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Kushner, 37, who serves as Trump’s adviser on the Middle East, has kept up informal conversations with the prince, 33, since early 2017, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources. Three former senior officials told the paper that the politically inexperienced Kushner’s private chats with Mohammed could have made him “susceptible to Saudi manipulation.”

Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 by Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Although the administration has played down reported evidence linking the slaying to the prince and cautioned lawmakers not to take action against Saudi Arabia in response to the killing, senators say U.S. intelligence reports clearly implicate the crown prince.

“I think he’s complicit to the highest level possible,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., after a CIA briefing last week on Khashoggi’s death, which included the use of a bone saw. “There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw.”

After the killing, Kushner “became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House,” the Times reported.

The White House acknowledged one call after the slaying. On Oct. 10, Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton spoke with the prince and encouraged the Saudis to be “transparent in the investigation process,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

But the Times reported that Kushner’s informal talks with Mohammed continued. Citing an unnamed Saudi source, the paper said, “Kushner has offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments.” 

In October, CNN reported that Kushner’s private chats with the prince were causing concern among national security officials who “worried off-the-books conversations with the young prince could lead to misunderstandings or worse.” 

CNN also reported that Kushner and Mohammed often sent each other texts via WhatsApp.

The Times reported Kushner’s relationship with Mohammed began after aides to the prince, often referred to by his initials MBS, met with Kushner in November 2016, just after Trump won the election. According to a slideshow the Saudi officials put together to report on the meeting, “Kushner made clear his lack of familiarity with the history of Saudi-American relations” and he “expressed his satisfaction with what was explained about the Saudi role in fighting terrorism.”

The delegation presented ideas they thought would appeal to Trump, according to the slideshow obtained by the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar and translated by the Times. Those proposals included intelligence sharing, a joint center to combat extremist ideology, the establishment of an “Arab NATO,” and increased Saudi spending on U.S. defense contracts and investment in the U.S.

The White House did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment on the Times‘ story.

“Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with MBS and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts,” a White House spokesperson told the Times in a statement.

Total Bullshit! Kushner is a foreign asset of the Saudi government. The Crown Prince certainly believes so. Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was “In His Pocket”:

Jared Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East, according to a former White House official and a former U.S. intelligence professional.

In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.

What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.

* * *

On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

* * *

It is likely that Crown Prince Mohammed would have known who his critics were without Kushner mentioning them, a U.S. government official who declined to be identified pointed out. The crown prince may also have had his own reasons for saying that Kushner shared information with him, even if that wasn’t true. Just the appearance that Kushner did so would send a powerful message to the crown prince’s allies and enemies that his actions were backed by the U.S. government.

One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.

Access to the President’s Daily Brief is tightly guarded, but Trump has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose information contained in it. If Kushner discussed names with MBS as an approved tactic of U.S. foreign policy, the move would be a striking intervention by the U.S. into an unfolding power struggle at the top levels of an allied nation. If Kushner discussed the names with the Saudi prince without presidential authorization, however, he may have violated federal laws around the sharing of classified intelligence.

On November 6, two days after the detentions in the Ritz began, Trump took to Twitter to defend the crackdown.

In the months that followed, the arrestees were coerced into signing over billions in personal assets to the Saudi government. In December, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Maj. Gen. Ali al-Qahtani had been tortured to death in the Ritz. Qahtani’s body showed signs of mistreatment, including a neck that was “twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken,” bruises, and “burn marks that appeared to be from electric shocks,” the New York Times reported.

Senior U.S. government officials have long worried about Kushner’s handling of sensitive foreign policy issues given his lack of diplomatic experience. They have also raised concerns about the possibility that foreign officials might try to influence him through business deals with his family’s real estate empire. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly examining Kushner’s business ties as part of his ongoing probe.

* * *

Kushner’s support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Qatar in the Gulf crisis has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest. Kushner backed the blockade a month after Qatar’s ministry of finance rebuffed an attempt by Kushner’s real estate firm, Kushner Companies, to extract financing for the firm’s troubled flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue.

* * *

Since 2011, Kushner and his relatives have been searching the globe for a new investor. As recently as the spring of 2017, Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, asked former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to invest in the building. Then in April 2017, Charles Kushner made a direct pitch to the Qatari government through the country’s minister of finance.

Qatar rejected the deal as not financially viable. In May, Trump traveled to Riyadh with Kushner, where the famous glowing orb photo was taken. In the wake of the meeting, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and a handful of allied countries announced the blockade of rival Qatar, accusing it of fomenting terror. The crisis continues today.

“We could not understand why the Trump administration was so firmly taking the Saudis’ side in this dispute between the Saudis, the Emiratis, and Qatar, because the United States has very important interests in Qatar,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “This Week,” after The Intercept reported on Kushner Companies’ efforts to obtain financing from Qatar. Murphy was referring to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, home of U.S. Central Command, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed.

“If the reason this administration put U.S. troops at risk in Qatar was to protect the Kushners’ financial interests, then that’s all the evidence you need to make some big changes in the White House,” Murphy said.

America’s national security interests are secondary to the Trump crime family’s financial interests around the world. They are using access to highly classified intelligence to advance their own financial interests while undermining American national security. Malcolm Nance Declares Trump A National Security Threat Who Must Be Removed From Office:

Counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance didn’t mince words on Monday night as he declared Donald Trump a Russian-controlled national security threat who must be removed from office.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, Nance said that Trump didn’t just con his way into the White House, but he’s essentially allowed Russia to take over America’s “entire national security apparatus” since he’s been in office.

I’ve actually heard people on television using the word immunity for Trump because he’s president. He does not have immunity. He is a man. He is a citizen of the United States. But let’s step back and look at the way — a little further than what Clint Watts had said about the impact on this election. They didn’t just steal an election. This was the co-option of the entire national security apparatus of the United States by a foreign power, by an ex-KGB director. This election was far more than just raising sanctions. This is getting a perfectly recruitable Russian asset, a man with an unquenchable ego, a narcissist who could be easily manipulated and blackmailed into power, and he dances on their string. That is why he needs to be removed from power. He is a national security threat and it is the pinnacle of intelligence operations.

The same goes double for his unelected son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a Saudi asset.





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