The death of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been in the news recently. The Turkish government said Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. At first, no one confirmed if he was dead, although it was suspected. Apparently Khashoggi went to the consulate to arrange for a marriage certificate but never came out. Trump said Khashoggi’s death was the possibility of a rogue killer. Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi government and had sought asylum in the United States. Both New York Times and The Washington Post reported that the Saudi Government issued the story of “rouge killers” to taper the harsh criticism that the government would receive. Why has the government echoed the same statement instead of conducting a formal investigation? In a previous article by the New York times, the Trump administration said he would not lecture the Saudi Arabia government about human rights abuses, once they live up to their end of the bargain by purchasing military weapons and equipment. The death of Khashoggi could lead to this could prompt journalists to dig for the truth than relying on what a statement by the Saudi Government. Maybe they knew from the onset of what happened to Khashoggi, but let us suppose they did not.
In the book “Freedom For The Thought That We Give” the author discusses press privileged. The chapter speaks about the journalist being required to break their confidentiality agreement with their informant. A brief filed by the New York Times explained that a subpoena should not be enforced against a journalist 1) If the government showed there was probable cause to believe the journalists had information relevant to a specific probable crime. 2) The government showed that it could not obtain the information from other sources; and 3) the government showed “a compelling and overriding interest in the information.”.
looking at the pattern of behavior of the Trump administration, money definitely matters more than morals. If journalists were to find out details about Khashoggi’s death would the U.S. government pressure them to reveal their sources to maintain their business relationship with the Saudi’s? Would the US government try to prevent them from reporting their story? In 2005, the Bush Administration wired tapped international phone calls without getting warrants which law requires. The government threatened to subpoena journalist who wrote the story. The US government wanted to know who their sources were. Our Current president is not an ally of the media. who knows if he would try to force their hand to in revealing any further information besides what the Saudi’s have said. Many countries view the US government as the world leader. I believe that depending on the outcome of the investigation of the murdered journalist will it set a precedent for other nations to feel that their inhumane and authoritative actions towards journalists are okay.