I love being Mike Pompeo because, as secretary of state, I get lots of exciting jobs. Today I’m in Saudi Arabia with young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We’re two husky fellows – don’t call us fat – and we’re very happy and smiling big. We really like each other and we love each other’s countries. That’s why I’m here. I want to help Saudi Arabia, our best friend in the oil-producing Arab world and a bulwark against Iran.
The Saudis are in a tight spot because Jamal Khashoggi, a trusted insider until he moved to the United States and became a liberal journalist who wrote newspaper columns critical of the reform-minded prince. Khashoggi complained about many things he shouldn’t have like the roundup of rich Saudis and their detainment in a luxury hotel. How many potential traitors get the five-star treatment? It was an accident one detainee died and about twenty others had to be hospitalized. About those public beheadings, Khashoggi perhaps made too big a deal. Prince Salman could’ve hidden those falling heads, but he’s an upfront guy. Sure, he imprisons his critics but lots of leaders do that, and my boss, President Trump, would lock up plenty of his defamers if he could. Maybe someday he’ll be able to.
Jamal Khashoggi should not have been so strident in criticizing Saudi mass murder in Yemen. We want our friends to combat Iran there. I know there aren’t many Iranians in Yemen but plenty of Houthi rebels are threatening to turn the country into an Iranian domino and we can’t have that and we also want our allies to get plenty of war practice, using great weapons purchased from us, because we’ll need their help when President Trump decides to attack Iran for being an international terrorist and seeker of nuclear weapons.
“Secretary Pompeo, we’ll cooperate in every way,” says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I know you will,” I say, “and so much appreciate that you’ve ‘agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation that provides answers.’”
“Beautifully stated,” says the prince.
“I must tell you, Prince Salman, that it didn’t look good yesterday when, in front of journalists outside your consulate in Istanbul, you sent in a cleaning crew armed with mops, trash bags, and bottles of bleach. That kind of clean up usually takes places after the forensics team does its work.”
“The Turks were a little slow sending them in.”
“You wouldn’t let them in.”
“That may also have been a factor.”
“You know, lots of times there’s evidence even after a seemingly thorough cleanup.”
“We have nothing to hide,” says the prince.
“So you swear you didn’t plan the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.”
Prince Mohammed bin Salman pumps his fist. “I certainly did not.”
“I believe you.”
“I may have approved Mr. Khashoggi being interrogated in the gentlest manner. Only the blunders of a tragically incompetent intelligence official have caused this problem.”
“The official was no doubt derelict, Prince Salman, but it arouses suspicions when you send to Istanbul fifteen agents accompanied by a forensics expert carrying a bone saw. The Turks also say they have eleven minutes of audio of the interrogation you approved.”
“And that was mishandled by the tragically incompetent intelligence official.”
I place two big hands palms down on the prince’s vast desk and say, “There’ll have to be consequences for this. Even Republicans in the Senate are outraged.”
“Don’t threaten us, Secretary Pompeo. Don’t test out patience. We’ll turn off the spigot and drive oil to a hundred bucks a barrel and ruin President Trump’s wonderful economy, and then the Democrats will start winning elections.”
“Relax, Prince Salman. We’ll more or less back your version of history because we know we have a historic mission in Iran.”
We rise, husky and smiling big, and shake hands before calling in the photographers.