I was just listening to Don Lemon’s CNN show from 11/28/2018, including Jr. US Senator of Connecticut, Chris Murphy, who was speaking on the CIA findings regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia which implicates with “high confidence” (translation: “it seems likely”) the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, as being aware of, ording the, or otherwise being involved in the murder (depending on which article you are reading). The actual CIA report was not made public so it is difficult to state what exactly the CIA’s findings were. This, of course, doesn’t prevent Don Lemon and Chris Murphy from jumping to the conclusion that Trump is ethically bankrupt due to his lack of outrage toward the Crown Prince, who “obviously” is the murderer and to cast doubt on intelligence reports is insulting and idiotic.
Because there couldn’t possibly be any coloring on an intelligence report which is politically driven. No, no, intelligence reports from the CIA are to be trusted, are utterly without bias, and are beyond reproach. Let’s keep in mind, these reports are written by human beings who, however competent they may be, were written, then edited, by people who all have a professional and political bias. How well all the people involved controlled their biases is something none of us can be sure of, and so even these reports must be held to some degree of skepticism, especially when details are slim and the actual report is behind a veil of reporting which is almost always colored into partisan lines. This is my first criticism on this exchange between Mr. Lemon and Mr. Murphy, and my first tie to conspiracy theory, because what does your standard conspiracy theorist do? They look at “possible” or “unproven” scenarios and turn them into “definite” and “proven” scenarios. “It is possible a UFO landed in New Mexico, but sources say it may have been a piece of a fallen satellite”, turns into “A UFO crash landed in New Mexico, aliens are among us!”. Let’s continue.
To his credit, Don Lemon asked “They are saying there isn’t a smoking gun, is there a smoking gun?”
After a lengthy hesitation (this is not a question he wants to acknowledge because it doesn’t serve his criticism of the White House), Mr. Murphy states “There probably isn’t a smoking gun, there’s almost never a smoking gun, what the intelligence community does is piece together lots of different pieces of information together to come to a conclusion, and that is the conclusion that they have come to here, that he” (the Crown Prince) “was likely involved in the decision-making” (in the murder of Khashoggi). This statement has a great deal to answer for in dubiousness, and it doesn’t take much critical thinking to see it. In fact, it was my red flag to start writing this article, because it is beyond me how a senator and a highly viewed anchor could let this fly.
- He admits there probably isn’t a smoking gun, hence no direct action on the Crown Prince is logically possible. You cannot punish a person, especially an ally on which many people’s lives hang, for what is essentially an intelligent guess, no matter how credible that guess may be. A guess is a guess. Proof is required to take a staunch position from a leadership viewpoint.
- He then states there is almost never a smoking gun. Maybe not in the conspiratorial cases like this which he seems to favor, but there is such a thing as direct evidence. It may have been a direct decree ordering the execution with his signature, or caught via video coverage, or audio coverage, or even a strong motive combined with strong corroborating evidence would be nice. We do not have these things. We have quite a bit of word against word, which is not proof. Just because there isn’t direct proof in this case does not mean there is not direct proof for most cases. In fact, there has to be, to take appropriate action in almost all legal and political situations.
- He then states exactly what I’ve been seeing CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and other liberal media outlets do, which is piece together disparate pieces of information to come to conclusion. This is exactly what conspiracy theorists do, stressing correlation to “prove” causation and linking one person’s motives to another person’s motives whenever they crossed paths. By this reasoning style, which is really quite useful to politicians, anybody can be guilty of anything you want. So because the Crown Prince spoke to associates (who he has spoken to on a regular basis as a routine of business) who seem to be involved in a murder, the Crown Prince ordered the murder. That’s a jump in logic if ever I heard one. If I murdered a man, then clearly my supervisor at work ordered the killing. Why else would I do it? Well, because maybe, just maybe, I had my own motivations to do so, not because I was told to by anyone.
I could go on, after all I put a good deal of research into various conspiracy theories over the years. One popular one is that drinking water is treated with fluoride to bring down IQ, decrease fertility, and increase the need to see dentists in the masses. This is based on some toxicity studies which found that high doses of fluoride actually break down enamel in teeth over time (and Dentists supported adding Fluoride to the water, therefore they have a financial interest in people’s teeth breaking down faster), that toxic levels of fluoride cause irreversible brain damage (really really high doses which are not found in drinking water and there is limited evidence of a cumulative effect on the brain, though I would like to see more evidence against this theory), and that high doses cause infertility (again, really really high doses not found in drinking water treated with fluoride). Of course you can go on to implicate not just dentists, but any politicians who supported the measure, then connect them to other politicians and organizations associated with them, until you have one big network of corrupt organizations and politicians which are out to control the masses. You just keep connecting the dots until you form the picture you want to see. It’s really easy, almost fun, feels like discovery, but it is based on a ton of assumptions which lead it farther and farther from reality the more dots you connect.
Mr. Murphy later goes on to state “the Saudi’s lied to us” which, again, is a conclusion reached based on the initial assumption that the Crown Prince was involved. Certainly some Saudis lied in the process, and he took steps to address that behavior of his people. His adviser, deputy intelligence chief, assistant head of the General Intelligence Directorate, general of Intelligence and Human Resources, and director of the General Directorate of Securaty and Protection were all fired (due to incompetence, negligence, or involvement is unclear), 18 involved in the killing were arrested pending investigations, according to the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2018/10/19/saudi-government-acknowledges-journalist-jamal-khashaoggi-died-while-in-that-countrys-consulate-in-istanbul/?utm_term=.5a8ee392c7bb). The fist fight clearly was not a confirmed story, it was someone on the team attempting to cover their political behinds (and does not prove they were directly involved, as it just as likely could have been that they were trying to down-play the issue before they had all the facts).
Let me go ahead and do my own conspiracy theory spinning a positive light on the Crown Prince which I see as equally likely to the popular conclusion here.
He came in and started changing long-established cultural norms, limiting the power of religious gestapo, thus allowing a broadening of entertainment and attire potential in the area (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/world/rise-of-saudi-prince-shatters-decades-of-royal-tradition.html), allowing women to drive for the first time (https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2017/09/27/saudi-arabia-will-finally-allow-women-to-drive), and even is allowing women to be spectators at sports arenas (https://nypost.com/2018/01/12/saudi-arabia-to-allow-women-to-enter-stadiums-to-watch-soccer/). Granted, in a separate section from the men both in parking and in seating, but still, this change is an unprecedented improvement in the treatment of women in a country which has long been heavily oppressive of women.
It would not be stretching the bounds of credulity to assume that many traditionalists in the country do not approve of these changes. Wait, I don’t have to stretch credulity, here’s some evidence of just that: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/05/02/607193358/culture-shock-within-their-own-country-saudis-come-to-grips-with-swift-changes. Therefore, it would not be surprising that an adviser so entrenched in tradition as to refer to his Prince as “Master” and proclaim his undying loyalty (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2018/10/19/saudi-government-acknowledges-journalist-jamal-khashaoggi-died-while-in-that-countrys-consulate-in-istanbul/?utm_term=.5a8ee392c7bb) might hold some views which aren’t in line with the Prince’s social reforms. The idea of the trusted adviser being a backstabber is hardly original, it is a downright stereotype (see Aladdin by Disney). Given the adviser had all the same connections the Prince did, as he would have to in order to advise properly, it stands to reason that he would have the capability and the motivation to color the orders of the Prince and withhold details regarding the actions of his underlings to undermine the very Prince he serves, but which does not serve his God. For any who is loyal to Saudi Arabia, as the conservatives would say, must be loyal to the religious doctrine, and any who are not, are not of Saudi Arabia (including the Crown Prince potentially).
Therefore, it is clear that the adviser and various cohorts conspired to demean the credibility of the Crown Prince’s heretic regime by setting up the murder of an American resident journalist they knew would create a stir given the politics of the world and the Crown Prince’s relationship with Trump. This would undermine his authority if he was unable to maintain ties with America, giving an opening for someone with more traditional views to enter the seat of power ultimately. They lied about their findings of what happened to the journalist in order to further limit the credibility of the Crown Prince as the leader of the country, and then provided false testimony leading the CIA to conclude the Crown Prince ordered the murder. Because he is a heretic who deserves to be taken down by his own heretic friends. That would be justice. And if it doesn’t work out, they’ll use his lessened status against him to reverse some of these changes, give the religious police power back, and regain the sanctity of the country. Further, if he doesn’t cooperate, they’ll find an accident for him soon thereafter and plant a true man of God to fight against America like a proper Saudi.
My point, I suppose, is that the villain is not always, and usually isn’t, the man at the top. The man at the top only has so much information as to what is actually going on individually with his people, and their loyalty to him should never be assumed, as human nature precludes the tendency to manipulation for ambition and ideological concerns. The Saudi’s definitely have plenty to answer for, and, as Trump says, the Prince may well have been involved, but to assume he was is not only a blemish upon the CIA, it’s a blemish upon journalism and politics alike. Things are more complicated than that, and I am frankly ashamed at anyone in our media or politics who uses conspiratorial thinking on such dangerous and world-shifting situations just to take a president they don’t like down another notch. It is shamefully delusional, self-righteous, and unmistakably biased of politic, which is something self-proclaimed journalists should not be if they intend to serve the function of a journalist. That means you Washington Post, CNN, New York Times, and so forth.
Not that I have an opinion or anything.
PS: In my research of Mr. Murphy, it seems he helped to pass a bill which outlawed smoking cigarettes in various arenas, creating a Tobacco fund comprised of fees for exceptions/penalties to the rule, this fund was then used to subsidize various stem cell research labs and contributing organizations after helping pass a bill making it legal to harvest embryonic stem cells acquired from abortions, while openly supporting abortion as a “women’s healthcare choice” on his own website (which I just find gross, if you are referring to women’s right to choose an abortion, say that instead of prettying up the terminology and making it sound like anyone who has an ethical issue with abortion are trying to take away all of women’s healthcare decisions). Now, this sounds pretty from a liberal perspective, but even before I started smoking and even now after I stopped, I find it stretching the bounds of freedom for lawmakers to ban smoking as a broad stroke in private business establishments. Let the people decide whether companies which allow smoking in their establishments get business or not. Then to use funds from that to support, essentially, abortion on two fronts, makes him just a wee bit on the ethically dubious end. That he colors abortion as a “women’s healthcare right” makes him a lame politician who won’t even call a spade a spade, like many democratic politicians (unfortunately). I’m not explicitly against stem cell research, or abortion for that matter, but I do see a problem with taking money from tobacco users and tobacco supporting companies to subsidize businesses which profit from abortion. The two should not have touched each other. Tobacco funds should go to clean air initiatives or cancer research, not abortion. Yet he incriminates a Crown Prince which gave Saudi women more freedom than they have ever experienced, while virtue signaling his dedication to women’s rights to abortion? Really? He is clearly biased as all hell, so his opinion on the matter of Saudi politics should be held with extreme skepticism. He just hates Trump. Like many.