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EDITORIAL: Expel Saudi ambassador till we get the truth in journalist’s murder

Turkish forensics leave an underground car park cordoned off by Turkish police in Istanbul. Police found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate here, three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate. | Photo by Ozan Kose /AFP/Getty Images

We hope every member of Illinois’ congressional delegation will have the courage to back Sen. Dick Durbin.

Durbin called on the Trump administration to formally expel the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. until an independent investigation uncovers the truth about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Saudi regime critic who was — the Saudis have now been forced to admit — killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Sending an ambassador packing is a drastic step, particularly when the ambassador is the younger brother of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But drastic steps are more than called for when a man is ambushed, murdered and dismembered by a team of 15 agents sent to “question” him. The ridiculous official Saudi explanation — a fistfight gone wrong — would be laughable if the likely truth were not so horrific.

Khashoggi has not been seen since he visited the consulate on Oct. 2, and a Saudi suspect in his murder was seen on surveillance video wearing Khashoggi’s clothes. Turkish officials now say Khashoggi’s killing was “savagely planned.”

“Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they are going to continue to do it,” Durbin said on NBC’s Meet the Press.  “If we want them to stop this and make clear that we don’t accept it, we need to be decisive.”

Decisive? Forget about that with President Donald Trump. Our allies have shown far more leadership and resolve, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel leading the way and choosing to freeze arms sales to the Saudis until the truth is ferreted out. Some Chicago aldermen are even proposing an ordinance to cut city ties with firms that do business with the Saudis.

Meanwhile, what is Trump doing? Denigrating Central American refugees, of course, and hitting the campaign trail, apparently waiting for international outrage to “blow over,” as his clueless and unqualified senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner assured him will happen.

Blow over? Not until everyone who had a hand in Khashoggi’s murder — no matter how high they sit — is held to account.

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