Of course, we have to be careful here. We know nothing for certain. We are not even sure that Khashoggi is really dead. And it could be there is much more here than meets the eye, particularly given that Saudi Arabia and Turkey (where Khashoggi vanished) are hardly friends.
But…if the White House knew of the threat, and if it did nothing to protect the man, and if he really was killed…then the Trump administration is complicit in a murder.
And we would then have to ask why Trump and his people would permit the slaughter of an American resident. The first answer, of course, is that the Saudis are important to Trump. The Trump family, and Trump himself, have long had tight connections with the Saudi elites. Indeed, shortly after Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump said he was “unhappy” with the situation, but also tacitly referred to upcoming deals with the Saudi government.
So, money, probably, has something to do with it.
But let me make another suggestion. Let me propose an alternative.
Khashoggi was working for the Washington Post, hardly Trump’s (or the Right’s) favorite publication.
What if…what if…Trump and his people saw an opportunity to deliver a little warning to the Post, and to Journalists (those “enemies of the people”) in general?
In other words, the real subtext here might be, “If it can happen to Khasohggi, it can happen to you.”
In other words, a not terribly subtle death threat…
If so, then we have to wonder how far we are from a dictatorship, and how we can fight back, while the Constitution still has something like meaning, and freedom is still ours to defend.