Almost two and a-half years ago journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was abducted, tortured, chopped up, and disposed of.

An intelligence report released by President Joe Biden’s administration says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

Some reports about that last week sounded as if it was new news, but some of us remember 2018 pretty well, and that every other country was reporting that the prince was behind this.

A month after the murder, our CIA’s assessment was the same, and as they were looking into it, then-President Donald Trump said of Saudi Arabia: “They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development. I have to take a lot of things into consideration.”

Trump revoked the visas of some Saudi officials implicated in Khashoggi’s murder but that was it.

Before he was elected, Biden said he would hold the prince accountable for Khashoggi’s murder, but he’s apparently changed his mind. The administration has imposed sanctions and travel restrictions on some other Saudi officials, and has announced a new policy of restricting and revoking the visas of people engaged in “extraterritorial activities targeting dissidents or journalists,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says we are “recalibrating” our relationship with Saudi Arabia.


Khashoggi was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia in 1958. He studied business administration at Indiana State University. He began his career as a journalist in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.

He interviewed Osama Bin Laden (also Saudi Arabian) during the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but denounced him after he became driven toward terrorism when the Soviets were defeated. He covered the first Gulf War. He also often criticized the Saudi Arabian government. He moved to the United States in 2017.

According to the Washington Post, in his debut column for the newspaper, he said that he and several others had gone into self-imposed exile because they feared being arrested, and that dozens of people had been detained in an apparent crackdown on dissidents under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi claimed the Saudi government pressured a publisher to stop running his columns and that the government told him to stop tweeting to his nearly 2 million followers.

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice,” Khashoggi wrote. “To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”

At a time when so many people are screaming that they are being unfairly censored I would think there should be more outrage over what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. At the same time I’m not surprised our country tolerates the prince’s behavior, considering our alliance. We have a long history of cozying up to ruthless dictators and some of the worst violators of human rights in the world as long as they say they will fight our enemies.

Some of us remember 2001 really well, too, and that 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 were Saudi Arabian. About five years ago declassified U.S. intelligence documents revealed that some of the terrorists received support from people in the Saudi government, and others were believed to be part of the Saudi intelligence community with ties to Al-Qaeda. Some of us find it inconvenient to remember that.

Steve Gillespie is editor of The Times Dispatch. Email him at

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