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Everyone in the Jeff Bezos dick pic story is a gross asshole. There's Jeff Bezos, the philandering billionaire. Lauren Sanchez, who likes to fish in other people's ponds. David Pecker, the sleazy tabloid owner palling around with Trump, who incites violence against real journalists, and Saudi Prince Bone Saw, who does worse. Dylan Howard, Pecker's goon, who threatened to publish leaked photos if Bezos wouldn't publicly clear the magazine of being in cahoots with the Saudis. And there's Michael Sanchez, the gay, Trump-loving brother who sold his sister out to the National Enquirer for $200,000.

Which of these characters do you trust to tell you what actually went down? Let's go with NONE OF THEM, KATIE. The only credible option is Gavin de Becker, an internationally recognized security expert and consultant for the US government since the Reagan administration, who currently works for Jeff Bezos. And he just published an article in The Daily Beast saying that AMI got the texts from Saudi Arabia first, and then went looking for Michael Sanchez as a cover story.

Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details. [Italics in original.]

If 2019 were an essential oil, it would be Michael Sanchez as the National Enquirer's beard.

De Becker points out that AMI was shouting from the rooftops that Sanchez was its only source, despite reports that it had already seen the texts before reaching out to him.

What was unusual, very unusual, was how hard AMI people worked to publicly reveal their source's identity. First through strong hints they gave to me, and later through direct statements, AMI practically pinned a "kick me" sign on Michael Sanchez.

"It was not the White House, it was not Saudi Arabia," a company lawyer said on national television, before telling us more: "It was a person that was known to both Bezos and Ms. Sanchez."

De Becker also notes David Pecker's ongoing relationship with Saudi intermediary Kacy Grine, the magazine's 100-page mash note to Prince Bone Saw, and AMI's query to the State Department as to whether it needed to register as a foreign agent of the Saudi government: "With friends like AMI, you don't need… publicists."

Not to mention the fact that the Enquirer published the stolen texts in January, but held back the salacious photographs "for some reason."

An eight-page contract AMI sent for me and Bezos to sign would have required that I make a public statement, composed by them and then widely disseminated, saying that my investigation had concluded they hadn't relied upon "any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process."

Note here that I'd never publicly said anything about electronic eavesdropping or hacking—and they wanted to be sure I couldn't.

They also wanted me to say our investigation had concluded that their Bezos story was not "instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise." External forces? Such a strange phrase. AMI knew these statements did not reflect my conclusions, because I told AMI's Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard (in a 90-minute recorded phone call) that what they were asking me to say about external forces and hacking "is not my truth," and would be "just echoing what you are looking for."

(Indeed, an earlier set of their proposed terms included AMI making a statement "affirming that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct"—but now they wanted me to say that for them.)

After the Washington Post refused to drop the story of the Saudi assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the Kingdom's cyber goons got to work sliming "the same Jew who attacks us by day, and sells us products by night!" (Paging Jared Kushner -- looks like your BFF is maybe not a great lover of Israel after all.) Multiple outlets have reported that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have highly sophisticated hacking operations capable of accessing cell phone data without leaving a footprint, and de Becker alleges that whoever gave AMI the leaked texts in the first place got them from Saudi hackers.

We did not reach our conclusions lightly. The inquiry included a broad array of resources: investigative interviews with current and former AMI executives and sources, extensive discussions with top Middle East experts in the intelligence community, leading cybersecurity experts who have tracked Saudi spyware, discussions with current and former advisers to President Trump, Saudi whistleblowers, people who personally know the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS), people who work with his close associate Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi dissidents, and other targets of Saudi action, including writer/activist Iyad el-Baghdadi.

Which is oddly similar to what Sanchez himself told the Daily Beast in February -- well, except he blamed Mossad and MI-6 while denying that he'd had anything to do with the Enquirer. See, he took the money and agreed to get them a photo of his sister and her married boyfriend swapping spit, but only as a delaying tactic! According to a Page Six SOURCE, who is definitely not Michael Sanchez.

Instead, Michael said he would help the tabloid score a picture of the pair kissing. This would be, he told The Post, in return for "softer" coverage — and to push off publication of the story long enough for the couple to tell their families the truth. (The photo never happened because, although Michael agreed to try and make it happen, he had no intention of following through, insiders say.)

"Michael . . . will defend Lauren to the death," said the family friend. "That's the essence of their relationship as children, and the essence of their relationship today."

UH HUH.

And speaking of sources, remember a couple weeks ago when the Wall Street Journal published a story saying that David Pecker was SHOCKED AND CHAGRINED to learn that AMI had offered Michael Sanchez cash up front for the stolen Bezos texts? The guy who personally negotiated with Trump and Kushner to buy up stories to protect the Trump campaign was somehow out of the loop when the next red ball dropped. Why? Dunno! But the important thing is, he had nothing at all to do with the story that would make both his Saudi buddies and Donald Trump really happy, okay?

UH FREAKING HUH.

De Becker claims to have turned over his findings to federal law enforcement officials. And while we have zero confidence that Mike Pompeo's State Department is eager to investigate his good buddies in Saudi Arabia, de Becker called his bluff in advance by making those findings public. Good luck sweeping that one under the rug, boys!

[Daily Beast / Page Six / WSJ]

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