Discover more from Ken Klippenstein
Saudi Prince MBS Gets Immunity, No Consequences for Hiking Oil Prices
Biden administration grants MBS immunity in Kashoggi lawsuit
Probably the most awkward story right now for the Biden administration is its immunity designation for MBS in the lawsuit against him for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, an atrocity for which candidate Biden once vowed to make Saudi Arabia’s crown prince a “pariah.” As I’ve reported in detail at The Intercept, the administration has gone to almost comic lengths to distance itself from the decision. The State Department press secretary insisted that the immunity designation had nothing to do with “the merits of the case” nearly a dozen times in a single press conference!
Another refrain was the assurance that the immunity designation inexorably followed from legal precedent, since MBS, like all leaders, is entitled to head-of-state immunity. But, as I reported, Saudi Arabia already has a head-of-state — King Salman — meaning that the oil-rich monarchy now enjoys immunity for two heads of state simultaneously.
Sounds like, uh, malarkey.
The lawsuit against MBS was dismissed this week, but not without an unusual swipe at the administration from the judge, who said that “despite the Court’s uneasiness,” it must defer to the Biden administration’s determination of immunity for MBS.
Hey guys, Ken here. Please become a paid subscriber to support my work
Shameful stuff all around, coming from an administration that saw Saudi Arabia hike oil prices the month of midterm elections — a move so bold it surprised even the Russians and prompted experts to call it Riyadh’s “October Surprise”.
But as a new story by my colleagues at The Intercept makes clear, there’s a chance for Congress to fight back. Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Intercept that he has the votes to bring a Yemen War Powers resolution to the floor, legislation that would require congressional authorization for the White House to provide support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia hates the check this would place on future U.S. assistance for the campaign, which has created arguably the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Demand Progress has put together a helpful page where you can see where your representatives stand on the war powers legislation.
FEEL LIKE THIS SHOULD BE A BIGGER STORY
Nothing will fundamentally change
Despite a lot of noise from Elon Musk about free speech, they’re still going to be “shadowbanning” accounts, as Twitter’s new head of trust and safety made quite clear recently:We will continue to aggressively de-amplify hate speech on our platform. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of reach.Hate speech impressions (# of times tweet was viewed) continue to decline, despite significant user growth! @TwitterSafety will publish data weekly. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach. Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity. https://t.co/36zl29rCSMElon Musk @elonmusk
Can’t wait to see how a famously thin-skin billionaire defines hate speech, a subject social media companies have defined rather selectively as my colleague Sam Biddle has reported.
Get your government secrets
Don’t sleep on Bill Arkin’s fantastic new newsletter where he reveals highly-classified government programs at an astonishing clip. My personal favorite: the Pentagon is actively monitoring unclassified leaks, which you can read about here.
The dark side of the World Cup
Per State Department travel advisory re FIFA World Cup in Qatar: “If a U.S. citizen is a victim of sexual assault in Qatar, we strongly encourage you to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately, prior to contacting the local authorities.” Forbidden truth here in Washington: our ally Qatar is an authoritarian state without a meaningful rule of law.
On that note, beloved sports reporter Grant Wahl collapsed and died in Qatar this week. He had recently been detained for wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBT community to the World Cup stadium. (Homosexuality is criminalized in Qatar, as is any sexual contact between people who aren’t married.)
In his final article, Wahl drew attention to the mistreatment of migrant workers amid the World Cup, one of whom died recently in a forklift accident. As Wahl notes, Qatari Supreme Committee’s CEO, Nasser Al-Khater, said of the migrant worker who died: “I mean, death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep.” No words.
Biden backs down on Saudi Arabia
If you were wondering how Saudi Arabia would be punished for hiking oil prices the month of the midterm elections, hope you’re ready…for nothing!
Biden choo-choo-chooses railroad executives
People keep asking me if the progressives in Congress betrayed railroad workers. The story is much more complicated, as my Intercept colleagues explain here. Long story short: President Biden and the union leadership sold them out.
New boss worse than the old boss
Nancy Pelosi’s likely replacement for leader of House Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries, largest single donor over the last year is Pro-Israel America. Would it surprise you that he will very probably be far more hostile to congressional progressives than his predecessor? As a former State Department official once told me, never assume that a bad thing can’t get worse.
Hey guys, Ken here. Become a paid subscriber to support my work