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Erin Burnett: Bolton mocking Khashoggi tape

CNN's Erin Burnett criticizes President Trump and US national security adviser John Bolton for not listening to the tape of the Khashoggi killing.

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 5:22 PM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 5:22 PM

"Let them eat cake." -- Marie Antoinette

"Heck of a job, Brownie." -- George W. Bush

"My belief is, we will in fact be greeted as liberators." -- Dick Cheney

Migrant detention centers for children are "more like a summer camp." -- Matthew Albence, acting No. 2 official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Add to the list of tragically callous and shockingly cruel statements from government officials this from National Security Adviser John Bolton, when asked Tuesday if he has listened to the audiotape of the murder of US permanent resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi: "Unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it?"

A lot. You will, presumably, hear struggle. You will hear beating, according to a Turkish newspaper, citing Turkish security sources. You will hear torture. You will hear an innocent man's final, desperate words: "Release my arm! What do you think you are doing?" You will hear one of the alleged conspirators, who allegedly put on Khashoggi's clothes to act as a body double, comment that "it is spooky to wear the clothes of a man whom we killed 20 minutes ago."

Sure, those comments are in Arabic. But torture is a universal language. Senior policymakers need to know who they are dealing with, what our allies in Saudi Arabia are capable of.

Bolton, of course, is merely following the lead of his boss, Donald Trump. President Trump told Fox News he will not listen to the Khashoggi tape because it is "a suffering tape." "I don't want to hear the tape. No reason for me to hear the tape," he said. "I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it. ... It was very violent, very vicious and terrible."

Where the Saudis are concerned, the Trump administration has its head in the sand. Not only have the President and the national security adviser refused to listen to the Khashoggi tape, they reportedly prevented CIA Director Gina Haspel -- who has heard the tape -- from briefing senators. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis did brief the Senate, but their departments neither gathered nor analyzed the intel. That's the CIA's job.

The administration says the CIA director would not attend the meeting because it was more focused on policy toward Yemen -- where the Saudis' role, incidentally, has been deeply controversial.

Debating policy options usually draws in matters of opinion. But before we can form good policy, we have to know the facts. And in national security, the facts usually come from intelligence. Excluding the CIA director from briefing the Senate limits senators' ability to see the constellation of issues presented by the US-Saudi relationship.

Of course, President Trump has been briefed on the Khashoggi murder. The CIA -- his CIA, our CIA -- has concluded with high confidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi. Shamefully -- but not surprisingly -- Trump seems to be siding with the Saudi prince against America's intelligence professionals.

There is a word for those who, when entrusted with leading our nation, purposefully turn away from their duties because they are difficult or unpleasant: cowards. The fact that the tape is unpleasant is precisely why Mr. Bolton -- and for that matter, our President -- should listen to it.

I was aware that Mr. Bolton doesn't speak Arabic. I'm quite sure President Trump does not either. What this sad story teaches us is they also don't speak the language of American values: of the central statement at the core of our founding, that "All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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