Monday, December 3, 2018

Could something like the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi happen here? Our experiences in Alabama and Missouri suggest the answer is "Yes"

Jamal Khashoggi
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi --which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered, according to the CIA --might be the most barbaric act against an individual in most of our lifetimes. But if you compare events leading to the murder with events surrounding my kidnapping and five-month incarceration in Shelby County, Alabama, you see enough similarities to think maybe the Khashoggi murder wasn't so "out there," after all.

In one respect, the Khashoggi incident was less radical than what happened to a U.S. journalist (me) in the Deep South: At least the Saudi criminals had the decency to abduct Khashoggi in a public place; Shelby County deputy Chris Blevins broke into our house, in broad daylight, to nab me -- an act unlawful on so many levels that it's hard to list all the state and federal laws it violates. And yet, U.S. Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins (Northern District of Alabama) has found sheriff's deputies under the state constitution, have immunity to commit such acts, as being within "the line and scope of their employment." (No kidding.)

On top of that, we've pointed to evidence that suggests Republican thugs who orchestrated my abduction included my wife, Carol, in the Rob Riley-Liberty Duke lawsuit because the plan was to kidnap and murder both of us. If so, Carol's ability to remain free and get word out to the press -- plus the thugs' apparent reluctance to break into our house a second time -- probably is all that saved us.

Were we slated to be beheaded and dismembered, as Khashoggi reportedly was? Likely not, but who knows, maybe the Saudis have given Alabama thugs ideas to implement in their future endeavors.

How similar were the Khashoggi murder and the Schnauzer kidnapping? Let's examine some of the underlying issues in both:

The judiciary as an "entry drug" for corruption

Over 11-plus years, this blog has provided details -- the kind that probably have never been reported before -- showing that American courts are awash in sewage. My research indicates perhaps the No. 1 indicator of a backward, third-world country is a corrupt judiciary -- specifically, the lack of due process, equal protection, and the rule of law. Our reporting shows the world's foremost democracy is becoming more and more like a banana republic.

Mugshot of U.S. journalist Roger Shuler
Jamal Khashoggi recognized similar, deep-seated problems in Saudi Arabia -- and speaking out about the entrenched judiciary likely contributed to his demise. Here are some of his quotes from a recent report at Newsweek:

[We shouldn't] minimize the issue of judicial reform to women only, even though it is important. . . . Since the time of King Abdulaziz, they have refused codifying the laws. And they think codifying the laws is secular. . . . This is what I mean by reform, by true reform of the judiciary, is to codify the law, introduce due process in the court system and make judges [obey] --what is the word? --a codified law…. This is the reform that is needed.

Making judges obey a codified law? Heck, Khashoggi was talking about judicial reform that would be way more advanced than anything we have in the United States. We have a codified law in America, but no one makes judges obey it. We've seen multiple instances where judges clearly have not even read the applicable law and/or did not consider it in their rulings.

Attacking your job -- your ability to make a living -- as a form of retaliation

We've written numerous posts about the cheat jobs Carol and I experienced in the Alabama workplace -- her at Infinity Insurance, me at UAB -- and evidence makes it clear they were political hit jobs, payback for my reporting at Legal Schnauzer, especially about the Don Siegelman case. Khashoggi had similar experiences in Saudi Arabia. From a report at Bloomberg:

In the 2000s, [Khashoggi] was twice fired from his post as editor-in-chief of the Saudi Al-Watan daily newspaper, which under his leadership ran stories, editorials and cartoons critical of extremists.

Yet he didn’t stay long without a job. In between, he served as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former long-serving intelligence chief, and stayed on as the prince’s media aide after he was appointed the Saudi envoy to the U.S.

“I got fired from my job twice because I was pushing for reform in Saudi Arabia,” Khashoggi said in a March appearance on Qatari-run Al Jazeera’s “Upfront” program as he explained the worsening environment for journalists under Prince Mohammed. “It wasn’t that easy but people were not being put in jails. There was a breathing space.”

Of thugs and jails

Alabama thugs targeted me for jailing -- essentially arresting me for blogging. Statements from the last days of his life indicate Khashoggi spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder, as any "breathing space" dissipated under the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. From a report at the UK Daily Mail:

Khashoggi also criticised Prince Mohammed's lack of 'proper advisers'.

'He is moving toward a Saudi Arabia according to him, a Saudi Arabia according to Mohammed bin Salman only,' said Khashoggi, who was himself a contributor to the Washington Post newspaper.

Khashoggi described two of the prince's aides, including the since-dismissed media adviser Saud al-Qahtani, as 'very thuggish'.

'People fear them. You challenge them, you might end up in prison, and that has happened,' he said.

Lies, lies, everywhere there's lies

Almost from the moment Khashoggi's disappearance hit the press, Saudi officials produced a string of lies -- finally admitting it was a case of premeditated murder. A recent unmasking of Saudi lies came when a Turkish official said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate. So much for Saudi claims that Khashoggi was the victim of a rogue extradition mission that turned into a "brawl." Can't have much of a brawl when one of the participants already is dead from strangulation.

Rob Riley and his daddy, former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley
Alabama GOP thug Rob Riley took a similar tack after I was thrown in jail. In an interview with Sara Rafsky, of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Riley told lies of Trumpian proportions. Here is a memorable whopper from Rafsky's article, titled "Censorship in Alabama's Shelby County":

Riley said in a telephone interview he has a right to seek injunctive relief in a defamation case and there is legal precedent for doing so. He said someone who decides "to make up a lie, destroy someone's reputation, that's not journalism."

Riley told CPJ: "Shuler has a history of making up things and writing things that are outlandish lies...I am going to pursue every avenue possible to me in the courts to defend my name, my family and my business...He has no proof this is true. He has just decided to be a cyber-bully and make stuff up and I've had enough."

Is any of that true? Not one word of it. Notice that Riley does not cite any case to support his claim that the law allows for a preliminary injunction in a defamation case -- in a matter where the complained of article has not been proven to be defamatory before a jury trial, as required by law. Riley can cite no such law because there is no such law.

Notice that Riley tells a reporter that my reporting consists of "outlandish lies." Did he ever say -- under oath, in a court of law -- that my reporting on his relationship with lobbyist Liberty Duke was false. Anyone can check the public record and find the answer is "No."

Is there much difference between the oily Rob "Uday" Riley and lying royal officials in Saudi Arabia? Not that I can see.

(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is urgently needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a recent broken arm. The healing process has started for Carol, but statements from her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes from being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donate button in the upper right corner of the blog, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

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