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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 5:03 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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 137536

Reported Deaths: 2421
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Dakota10027138
Anoka9039151
Washington608972
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Scott349634
Olmsted331430
St. Louis307970
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Blue Earth20667
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Kandiyohi17535
Sherburne173322
Rice167410
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Chisago10832
Crow Wing106222
Lyon9966
Benton9769
Waseca9379
Beltrami9147
Otter Tail9017
Todd8656
Steele7823
Morrison77610
Itasca76317
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Douglas7283
Polk7244
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Sibley2603
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Kanabec22510
Jackson2171
Houston2121
Swift2091
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Unassigned19353
Lincoln1890
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Pope1650
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Marshall1311
Lake1260
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Mahnomen1172
Clearwater1140
Grant994
Red Lake812
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 117876

Reported Deaths: 1666
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19173289
Woodbury728597
Johnson590630
Black Hawk5727101
Linn5692132
Dubuque529558
Scott466241
Story403918
Dallas348544
Pottawattamie326744
Sioux247017
Buena Vista226812
Marshall204436
Webster189115
Plymouth167831
Wapello154162
Clinton150227
Muscatine148758
Des Moines140910
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Crawford136314
Warren12737
Carroll116813
Jasper112334
Henry10745
Marion103211
Lee95910
Tama95837
Delaware80213
Dickinson7529
Wright7341
Boone7269
Mahaska70924
Bremer6879
Harrison67315
Washington66711
Jackson6463
Benton5982
Lyon5568
Clay5414
Louisa52515
Winnebago50219
Hardin4837
Winneshiek4839
Hamilton4784
Cedar4777
Kossuth4770
Buchanan4625
Poweshiek46211
Jones4544
Clayton4503
Floyd44011
Emmet43520
Iowa4189
Page4130
Guthrie40715
Cherokee4062
Mills4053
Sac4034
Cass4023
Butler3883
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Shelby3812
Allamakee3809
Chickasaw3641
Madison3643
Clarke3573
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