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A cautionary tale

“I can’t breathe.”

A cautionary tale

These were the final words uttered by Washington Post jounalist Jamal Khashoggi after he was set upon by a Saudi Arabian hit squad inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, reports now say.

The gruesome details of Khashoggi’s murder surfaced after a transcript of an audio recording of his painful last moments was released by Turkish intelligence. A source briefed on the investigation who read the transcript of the audio recording and talked to CNN said Khashoggi almost immediately realized that all was not well when he recognized a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official working for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He asks the man what he is doing there.

“You are coming back,” the man says.

“You can’t do that,” Khashoggi replies. “People are waiting outside.”

Without any further dialogue, the source said, the transcript indicates that several people set upon Khashoggi.

Noises follow, and very quickly Khashoggi is fighting for air.

As the transcript continues, it is clear Khashoggi is not yet dead.

The transcript notes the noises that can be heard on the tape..

“Scream.”

“Scream.”

“Gasping.”

After uttering his last words, Khashoggi falls silent. Then, the transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi’s body being dismembered by a saw.

“Saw.”

“Cutting.”

The perpetrators are then advised to listen to music to block out the sound.

The transcript indicates that a series of phone calls are then made, suggesting a senior official in Riyadh was being briefed on the progress.

The latest revelations seem to dovetail with the CIA conclusion that the crown prince had personally ordered Khashoggi, who has been critical of him, killed. They also seem to contradict the official Saudi line that the murder was a rogue operation gone wrong.

To a less extreme extent, the Duterte administration has also exhibited an unhealthy tendency to silence its critics, whether they be the political opposition, journalists that are critical of President Duterte, or “troublesome” 71-year-old nuns who are too outspoken for their own good. The notion that a healthy debate allows the best ideas to surface and is essential to democracy does not seem to figure in the current political equation.

Tying up the political opposition and critical news organizations in lawsuits seem to be de rigueur these days, while deportation seems rather effective against missionaries and other foreign critics.

As for the pesky Catholic bishops, the President made clear that he believes they should be killed because these “fools are good for nothing” except criticizing the government. Will he provide a saw as well, we wonder.

Topics: Jamal Khashoggi , Rodrigo Duterte , Mohammed bin Salman , Violence , Catholic bishops
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