May 6, 2013

CBS NEWS: Official: We knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack “from the get-go.”

But the Administration still blamed filmmaker Nakoula, who is still in jail. They did this to keep the Benghazi debacle from exploding before the election. It worked. And filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.

Related: Dem Rep. Stephen Lynch on Benghazi Talking Points: ‘It Was Scrubbed … It Was False Information. There’s No Excuse For That.’

UPDATE: Benghazi Plot Thickens.

(Above reposted from yesterday.) But here are some further lines of investigation. Some Obama-defenders will note that Nakoula was jailed for probation violations, of which he may have even been guilty. But, as I note in my Due Process When Everything Is A Crime piece — to be published next month, in substantially revised and updated form, by the Columbia Law Review — prosecutors can always find a reason to put someone away if they really want to. The question is, why, exactly, were they so eager to put Nakoula away?

The fast-tracking of Nakoula’s jailing was highly irregular. Among other things, I’d like to see the Congressional investigators get Nakoula’s prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale — and perhaps his boss, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. — under oath about communications from the White House or the Justice Department regarding this case.

Because what it’s looking like is that Nakoula was targeted and jailed so as to provide a scapegoat/villain in a politically motivated cover story that the White House knew was false. If that’s the case, it’s extremely serious indeed, and in some ways more significant than whatever lapses and screwups took place in Benghazi. I’d also be interested in hearing from Nakoula’s attorney, Steven Seiden, about any threats made by the government to secure a plea deal.

If there’s an impeachable offense anywhere in the Benghazi affair — and at this point, I’m not saying there is — it’s more likely in what happened with Nakoula than in the problems abroad, which by all appearances are simple incompetence, rather than something culpable. Railroading someone in to jail to support a political story, on the other hand, is an abuse of power and a breach of trust.