Saudi Arabia, so far, has tried bluster and bullying to silence the questions about journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago Tuesday. On Sunday, a regime statement threatened to respond with a larger action to any sanction stemming from the case; Saudi-owned media floated such steps as cutting back oil production, buying arms from Russia and holding back counterterrorism intelligence. On Monday, King Salman told President Trump in a phone call that he denies any knowledge of what took place, according to Mr. Trump, who added it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers.
That preposterous suggestion may have anticipated a change in the Saudi story; CNN reported that the regime was preparing to admit that Mr. Khashoggi died in an interrogation gone wrong. If so, there must be consequences not just for those who supposedly erred in killing the journalist but also for whomever ordered the illegal operation in the first place. U.S. intelligence intercepts suggest the order came from Mohammed bin Salman, the reckless crown prince whose excesses had been criticized by Mr. Khashoggi in columns for The Post.
We expect to learn more soon: Whatever happened to Mr. Khashoggi appears to have been recorded on video or audiotape. In the meantime, its worth considering just how much the United States might have to lose if its relationship with Saudi Arabia ruptured. What about that oil, and the $110 billion in arms purchases Mr. Trump keeps talking about? What about the war on terrorism?