The Back Road: ‘I’ve lost my spine and I can’t get up!’

The Island Now

Did it really surprise anyone that President Trump would pardon four mass murderers?

As we all know by now, he did just that when he set free the four men involved in the killing of 9-year-old Ali Kanani, the Iraqi boy who was shot to death, murdered along with 13 other unarmed Iraqi civilians on Sept. 16, 2007 in Baghdad.

Upon inspecting his body, Ali’s father reported that the boy’s brains were literally blown out of his head.

One would think that the story of Ali’s brutal murder would have reached its final chapter when the murderers were tried and convicted in U.S. federal court in 2014. Three were sentenced to 30 years in prison and the fourth to life.

They were all employees of Blackwater, a private military company that the U.S. government contracted with to provide security services in Iraq.

The ease with which Trump let these mass murderers off the hook is no surprise. But, have we become so desensitized to his cruelty that collective outrage is beginning to dissipate? If you will recall, in the second year of Trump’s tenure we first learned about the kidnap-torture-murder-dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi at the behest of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 and he was never seen again.

In the U.S. when a murder-for-hire is carried out to its conclusion, the person who orders the hit will be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and murder. In the case of Khashoggi’s murder, Trump refused to hold the Crown Prince accountable, despite the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency investigators concluded that Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

In a Washington Post report on Oct. 1, 2020, reporter Jason Rezaian cites Bob Woodward’s book “Rage.”

He says that, Trump viewed the handling of the public outcry over Khashoggi’s murder a success because he helped MBS evade justice.

“I saved his ass,” Trump told Woodward. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.” He went on the explain that he gave him cover because MBS denied guilt and the Saudis spent $400 billion for state-of-the-art weaponry. It has always been transactional with Trump; right and wrong be damned.

It seems clearer by the day that Donald Trump has acquired a taste for blood during the last four years. After separating thousands of migrant children from their parents, Trump had no problem whatsoever granting freedom to four White men who executed a 9-year-old child of color.

As he nears the end of his first and final term in office, Trump was just coming into his own, crowing that there were no limits to his power at every opportunity he had.

We can all recall him genuflecting before despots like MBS and Putin. He would accept their every word as gospel, choose their lies over U.S. Intelligence truths, always believing that through the power of personality, like some deranged Dale Carnegie, he would prevail in winning them over as he had tens of millions of American voters who are now more than eager to empty their pockets for him.

Four more years of Trump and I think he would have joined his spiritual compatriots MBS and Putin, trying his hand at the dark arts, but of course always at a distance by either suggestion or with a sufficient supply of buffers to ensure plausible deniability.

He would never get his own hands dirty. Never! Ask Michael Cohen.
There have to be buffers. After all, he is the third generation in a four-generation white-collar crime family. You remember The Godfather II scene at the legislative hearing into organized crime, don’t you?

Senator Pat Geary: Mr. Cici, was there always a buffer involved?
Willi Cici: A what?
Senator Pat Geary: A buffer. Someone in between you and your possible superiors who passed on to you the actual order to kill someone.
Willi Cici: Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!

Trump has a lot of buffers who adhere to the code of silence, most notably the Republican members of the House. They know that their reward is in the promise of a pardon. Their motto: “I’ve lost my spine and I can’t get up!”

Andrew Malekoff is a New York State licensed clinical social worker.

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