Kinzinger backs Saudis, dismisses Khashoggi murder
Congressman breaks ranks with Republicans in Senate to defend support for Saudi Arabia in journalist’s slaughter
By Ted Cox
An Illinois congressman is defending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in spite of findings that the nation’s leader was behind the death and dismemberment of a U.S. journalist at its Turkish embassy.
Representatives in the U.S. House were briefed Thursday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as the Senate was voting unanimously to place blame for the October slaughter of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Senate not only offered unanimous condemnation of the murder, but also voted 56-41 to withdraw U.S. military support for Saudi-backed forces in Yemen’s civil war. Seven Republican senators joined all Senate Democrats in voting for the measure — a rebuff to President Trump, who has placed a $100 billion U.S. military contract with the Saudis and their strategic importance in Middle East stability over the life of a U.S. journalist.
After the House briefing, however, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger sided firmly with Trump in support of the Saudis.
In a story reprinted in Friday’s Chicago Tribune, the Post quoted Kinzinger as saying: “We recognize killing journalists is absolutely evil and despicable, but to completely realign our interests in the Middle East as a result of this, when for instance the Russians kill journalists . . . Turkey imprisons journalists?
“It’s not a sinless world out there,” Kinzinger added.
The CIA has reported that the crown prince was almost certainly behind the apparent murder of Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Turkey. The Post columnist was never seen again after visiting the embassy to obtain documents Oct. 2. His body is widely believed to have been dismembered with a bone saw and disposed of.
That figured in Time magazine naming journalists its official “Persons of the Year” under the title of “The Guardians.” The newsweekly also focused on “The War on Truth” in the face of President Trump’s relentless lying and labeling journalists “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.”
The Post ran a full-page ad Friday saying, “A life is gone,” but “the principles of free expression continue.”
According to Politico, Post Publisher Fred Ryan sent a year-end memo to staff stating: “Many people are frustrated and feel betrayed by the Trump administration's apparent effort to sweep Jamal's killing under the rug and its failure to stand up for America's values. They can be assured that The Washington Post will not rest until justice is served on those who ordered Jamal's killing, those who carried it out, and those who continue to try to cover it up.”
Kinzinger’s attitude toward Khashoggi’s death was in marked contrast to his response to the death last month of suburban Chicago resident Layla Schweikani in Syria. U.S. government sources have stated that Schweikani was tortured and executed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
On Monday, Kinzinger issued a post on his Facebook page stating: “Layla Shweikani, a young Chicago woman, went to Syria to help those plagued by the war, and in return, Bashar al-Assad detained, tortured, and murdered her. It’s been over a week since I asked the White House for their response to the killing of an American on Syrian soil.
“I’m still waiting.”
On Thursday, Kinzinger was quoted in the Post as saying: “It’s disheartening that there not only has been no outrage over the murder of an American by the Assad regime, but that there has been little to no coverage on her story by our national media. I’ll continue to ask questions, I’ll continue to speak out for Layla, and will urge my colleagues to do the same.”
Kinzinger lives in Channahon and was recently elected to a fifth term in Congress. An Illinois State University graduate, he served in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan before being elected to Congress in 2010 and has focused on the U.S. role in the Middle East. His 16th District extends in an L-shaped pattern around Chicago and its collar counties from the Wisconsin border to the Indiana border.