BUT FILMMAKER NAKOULA STILL WENT TO JAIL: Hearing: CIA Knew Al Qaeda Involved in Benghazi from ‘Get-go.’
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House Republicans are coming under increasing pressure to create a special investigative panel ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Benghazi terror attacks.
A group of special forces veterans has spent $5,800 for three giant billboards scheduled to go up in Boehner’s district this week. And another conservative group plans to hold a day-long commemoration at the steps of the Capitol on Sept. 11.
“If 4 Members of Congress were KILLED in Benghazi would we have a Watergate-style Select Committee today?” ask the billboards, which feature photos of Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Demand Justice for Benghazi.”
The billboards, sponsored by Special Operations Speaks, call on lawmakers to sign a discharge petition forcing a vote on legislation from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) that would create a select committee.
Read the whole thing. At least scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is out of jail. Though there are still a lot of questions.
WHEN, OF COURSE, SHE KNEW THAT IT WAS JUST THAT: Hillary Clinton exploded at a congressman two days after Benghazi for suggesting that the attack was the work of terrorists, says GOP Rep.
An Illinois Republican congressman told constituents at a town hall meeting on Wednesday that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton screamed at a fellow member of Congress two days after a U.S. diplomatic station in Benghazi, Libya was destroyed, merely for saying aloud that the attack was carried out by terrorist groups.
The Obama administration later acknowledged that reality.
But White House officials initially maintained that the deaths of four Americans and the firebomb attack on the State Department mission was the result of a spontaneous protest against a low-budget YouTube film that was critical of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
‘Two days after this attack,’ said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, ‘we were in a briefing with Hillary Clinton and she screamed at a member of Congress who’d dare suggest that this was a terrorist attack.’
‘Now we find out that while it was happening, they knew it was a terrorist attack. These are answers that we’re going to get to the bottom of.’
Kinzinger’s office told National Review Online that the meeting he referred to was a classified briefing held for all members of Congress.
The congressman appeared on the Fox News Channel on Friday, recalling Clinton ‘basically, in a very loud, angry voice, [saying] “It’s irresponsible to even suggest this is a terror attack. This is a YouTube video. We know that there are protests all over, and we need to be very careful how we’re saying this” — and basically chided this member of Congress.’
At least scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is now out of jail.
AND NOBODY’S EVEN PRETENDING HE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH BENGHAZI NOW: “Innocence of Muslims” Filmmaker Released from Prison.
How time flies. It hardly seems possible that almost a year has passed since last September’s controversy over an offensive You Tube video, “The Innocence of Muslims.” The video led to protests at American embassies in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, drew the attention of the US President (“The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam”), and had serious people questioning American free speech principles. Things have gotten much worse in the Middle East since then–in Egypt today, there are reports of massive violence in Cairo and the burning of churches across the country–for reasons that have nothing to do with a video that, one suspects, gets very few hits any longer. At one point, the US Government asserted that the video had led to the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the murder of four Americans there, including the US ambassador. But that explanation is no longer operative, and the media seems mostly uninterested in finding out what really happened. What difference at this point does it make?
One person for whom time has not flown, however, is the video’s American producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Mark Basseley Youssef. He has spent the past year in federal prison. Nakoula has been in jail for violating parole on a prior fraud conviction, but there can be little doubt that as a practical matter authorities seized him because of the controversy over the video.
Justice in Obama’s America — it’s what’s convenient for the narrative at the moment.
THEY PUSHED IT OFF UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION, BUT IT HASN’T GONE AWAY: Wolf renews call for special Benghazi panel after new questions surface.
Rep. Frank Wolf is renewing his call for the creation of a special House committee devoted to investigate the Benghazi attack after an attorney for a State Department whistleblower claimed that 400 surface-to-air missiles intended for Syrian rebels were stolen, fueling a cover-up.
The Virginia Republican, who has served in the House for more than three decades, circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday that touted former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova’s comments on a Washington radio show Monday morning arguing that the real scandal about Benghazi is the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles by some “very ugly people.”
“These new allegations are another reason why a select committee is needed more than ever to investigate the truth behind the Benghazi attacks,” Wolf wrote in the letter.
DiGenova, who represents one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, went on to claim that the Obama administration remains fearful that those missiles could be used to shoot down an airplane or blow up an embassy, contributing to the concern that led the State Department to shutter a record number of embassies in the Muslim world last week.
That “smart diplomacy” stuff sure has been paying off for us.
The man whose anti-Muslim film was wrongly cited for sparking protests that led to the Benghazi debacle doesn’t hold a grudge against the U.S. government, although he was shocked at how it all played out and is working on a book about his experience.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper after his release from prison, says the Obama administration acted irresponsibly in initially linking the deadly terror attack last September 11 on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya to outrage over “The Innocence of Muslims.”
A YouTube trailer of the film, which cast the Prophet Mohammed in an unflattering light, was highlighted by Egyptian media and did spark protests in parts of the Muslim world.
The 55-year-old Egyptian-American has been granted supervised release from a federal prison, according to the Justice Department. Bureau of Prisons records show he is at an undisclosed halfway house in Southern California and is due to be formally freed next month.
He landed in jail after the uproar over his film for a probation violation related to a 2010 bank fraud conviction
Asked how he felt when the administration tied his film to the attack by armed militants that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Nakoula said he was shocked. . . .
Asked if he thought the administration put him in danger, Nakoula declined to comment. But he said the government is “hiding” him.
There seems to be a pattern with this administration scapegoating people who then have to go into hiding. George Zimmerman was unavailable for comment. Because, you know, he’s in hiding. . . .
BYRON YORK COMPARES THE RODEO CLOWN OUTRAGE with the abuse and violent language aimed at George W. Bush by members of the establishment. Yeah, but he’s a rodeo clown. The common folk should know their place. I wonder if he’ll have to go into hiding, like George Zimmerman or Nakoula Nakoula, to escape the mob-frenzy whipped up by the President’s political apparat.
But here’s the truth: All this outrage is really an admission that Obama is weak, and can’t withstand the kind of criticism routinely directed at other presidents, from Nixon to Clinton to Bush. President Asterisk, indeed.
UPDATE: Flashback: Liberals Were Silent When George Bush Dummies Were Used at Rodeos. Bush survived, but he wasn’t a media creation who would collapse like a rodeo dummy if subjected to criticism or mockery.
UPDATE: From the comments:
By the way — Nakoula Nakoula is in hiding, through no fault of his own. George Zimmerman is in hiding, through no fault of his own (because the police questioned him, they let him go, and then the politicians decided that wasn’t good enough). The Benghazi survivors are in hiding, through no fault of their own.
Is this the hallmark of the Obama era?
It seems to be. How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
GOSH, IT SEEMS LIKE JUST LAST OCTOBER WHEN AL QAEDA WAS DEAD AND DETROIT WAS ALIVE: Al Qaeda ‘on steroids’ since Benghazi attack. Stupid YouTube video. Good thing that Nakoula guy is still in jail.
SOMEBODY IN THE WHITE HOUSE IS PROBABLY WONDERING JUST THAT: “Jake Tapper reveals classified information about CIA in Benghazi – should his sources go to prison? Should he?”
Meanwhile, scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
Related: Remember when Rand Paul asked Hillary about gun running in Libya? Yeah, that nutty conspiracy theorist. . . .
And, of course, there’s CNN’s big story from last night.
But scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
Phony scandals? Let’s recycle this from Ken Gardner:
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Will David Ubben Blow Roof Off ‘Phony’ Benghazi Scandal?
The former commander of special operations in North Africa says he, like our president, was incommunicado during the Benghazi attack. We may soon hear from the hero who survived 20 hours waiting for help.
During the second wave of attacks on Benghazi, diplomatic security agent David Ubben was on the roof of the CIA annex with two former Navy SEALS. Eventually, several rounds of mortar attacks found their mark, killing Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty while shredding Ubben’s right leg.
Ubben was stuck on that rooftop for 20 hours before help finally arrived. He can tell us and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “what difference does it make”that help was not sent — at least two American lives. Ubben sustained injuries at Benghazi so severe he’s still being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The important thing is, they were able to keep it under wraps until after the election. And scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
GENERAL CARTER HAM: Sure, We Knew Benghazi Was A Terror Attack Right Away. “The former head of U.S. forces in Africa, General Carter Ham, told the Aspen Security Forum that it quickly became clear the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi last year was a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous demonstration. ‘It became apparent to all of us quickly that this was not a demonstration, this was a violent attack,’ Ham said. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initially had portrayed the embassy attack as a response to an inflammatory internet video.”
Filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
WELL, FIRST THEY CAME FOR FILMMAKER NAKOULA, AND THE A.P. DIDN’T DO ANYTHING: Shredding the Constitution: Obama’s attack on the media. “The president hasn’t attempted to distance himself from the Associated Press snooping campaign. To the contrary, he offered ‘no apologies.’ To be blunt, he approves the most invasive breach of the First Amendment against any news organization in the history of the republic. No president has tried this and for good reason. We now have yet another media abuse story, in a way much more severe. The Post breaks the story that the Obama administration indulged in excruciatingly invasive spying on James Rosen of Fox News and, in an unprecedented move, asserted that his newsgathering is criminal.”
I, on the other hand, was ahead of the curve on this kind of stuff. See my 2009 Wall Street Journal piece, Media Criticism, Chicago Style.
ROGER KIMBALL: Benghazi as Lazarus, Back from the Dead.
The presidential election loomed. Obama had offed Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was supposed to be yesterday’s news. The central fact about Northern Africa was supposed to be the “Arab Spring,” which in turn was supposed to corroborate Obama’s foreign policy genius and justify his Islamophilia. No one — certainly not the mainstream media — was interested in stories that gainsaid that rose-colored picture. Benghazi had died.
Until, that is, the testimony before Congress by Gregory Hicks, the State Department’s number two official in Libya at the time of the attack, earlier this month. Hicks directly contradicted the official Obama narrative. The attack — which took place, remember, on the anniversary of 9/11 — had nothing to do with that hitherto obscure internet video. It had everything to do with al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism. Suddenly Benghazi, like Lazarus, sprang back to life.
There is still a huge amount we do not know about the event. But more and more pieces of the puzzle are being unearthed, dusted off, and fit into the mosaic. And the more we know, the worse it looks for Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Indeed. Also, filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail, over a YouTube video that no one now thinks led to the attacks.
AUSTIN BAY: Benghazi Revisited: The Dead Get Pinocchios.
In a column published on Sept. 18, 2012, I argued that verified tactical military details of the engagement, the iconic date itself, and subsequent, very explicit statements by Libyan government authorities, left no doubt that on 9-11-2012 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi suffered a planned attack by an organized anti-American militant Islamist militia. A terrorist force had hit us with another 9-11 terror attack, and Americans had died, among them our ambassador to Libya.
Given the facts, the Obama administration’s bizarre claim that a sacrilegious Internet video had inflamed peaceful Libyan demonstrators — and in an outburst spurred by overwhelming theological pain, this moody crowd murdered our unfortunate ambassador — just didn’t wash. . . . As for passing major media smell tests before the 2012 presidential election? Of course the blarney passed ‘em! But eight months after the attack and six months after the election, even President Barack Obama’s chief media enablers have begun to acknowledge the video-did-it propaganda tizzy the administration orchestrated was stench itself.
And orchestrated propaganda it was, with the video-did-it narrative hedged by presidential statements calculated to slyly finesse terrorist complicity in the attack.
Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post’s fact-checker column, now informs his readers that the president’s claim he called the Benghazi attack an “attack of terrorism” rates four Pinocchios. That’s Kessler’s cute way of calling our president a complete and thorough liar. . . .
The video whopper and the slippery presidential phraseology were coordinated spin — the video to fool the rubes pre-election, the slick rhetoric to fool them now.
Read the whole thing. And note: “On Sept. 16, Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megari, announced that he had no doubts the militia’s leaders had predetermined the date of the attack. That same day U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five television shows and repeatedly blamed the video.” Scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
JOHN HINDERAKER: The Benghazi Emails: What Do They Show? “Note, too, that there is no reference to any YouTube video.” Filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
STACY MCCAIN ON The Fate of Basseley Nakoula.
“Hillary’s promise of vengeance to the father of a fallen SEAL wasn’t that we’d get the jihadis who killed him but that we’d punish the filmmaker. That’s perverse, but in keeping with the fact that she decided to run ads on Pakistani TV apologizing for the film while Islamist cretins menaced American diplomats across the region.”
– Allahpundit, Oct. 25, 2012
The wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time: Nakoula was out on “supervised release” for a federal bank fraud conviction. He was $700,000 behind on restitution payments and operating under an alias when he made “The Innocence of Muslims,” a crappy movie that got turned into a YouTube video clip that in turn became the pretext of riots in Egypt and then — it is now generally acknowledged — was utilized as a flimsy excuse by the State Department in an attempt to distract from its embarrassing failures in the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Having become unintentionally famous, the con man Nakoula was arrested and hustled into federal court amid unusually high security two weeks after the Benghazi attacks. We need not wonder why Eric Holder’s Justice Department made this a top priority:
“We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
– Hillary Clinton, Sept. 14, 2012 . . . .
But this isn’t really about Nakoula at all, is it?
What the case of Nakoula actually demonstrates is the strangely misplaced priorities of the Obama administration: Eight months later, they still haven’t caught any of the terrorists who killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, but they needed only two weeks to apprehend Nakoula.
Indeed. Nakoula wasn’t a hero, but he was a scapegoat. We’re still waiting to see just exactly what sins of others were loaded onto his shoulders — and who, precisely, those others were.
MICHAEL BARONE: Did Clinton and Obama believe their Benghazi baloney? “What were President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thinking? Why did they keep pitching the line that the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans started as a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim video? . . . Obama continued to attribute the Benghazi attack to a protest against a video on Sept. 18 (“Letterman”), Sept. 20 (Univision) and Sept. 25 (“The View” and the United Nations). There were obvious cynical political motives for attempting to mislead voters during a closely contested presidential campaign.”
Filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
KEN AT POPEHAT THINKS THE NAKOULA IMPRISONMENT IS NO BIG DEAL. I dunno, Hillary was promising to put the filmmaker in jail before she even knew who it was.
UPDATE: Father of Slain SEAL: ‘I Knew’ Clinton Was Lying When She Told Me It Was About the Video. But filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
TOM BEVAN ON THE BENGHAZI HEARINGS:
Despite Obama’s claim during the second presidential debate that he had called the assault an “act of terror” in a Rose Garden statement the day after it happened (a claim famously supported by moderator Candy Crowley), the truth is that the president used the phrase that day in a generic sense.
It took eight days for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Clinton to label the attack an act of terror. Obama was given opportunities to do the same during his Sept. 20/25 television appearances, but he declined.
We did learn at least two new, relevant facts from yesterday’s testimony. One is that Beth Jones, an official in the State Department, sent an email on September 12 bluntly acknowledging terrorists participated in the attacks (“The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”) The other is that Hicks said his “jaw dropped” when he heard Rice make her claims about spontaneous protests. Hicks testified that he later confronted her about the comments, and shortly thereafter he was demoted.
So, while we may not have been treated to any “bombshell” revelations Wednesday, the testimony of Thompson, Hicks and Nordstrom and a fair reading of the record leads to an obvious conclusion: The president and his administration clearly misled the public about what happened on Sept. 11, 2012.
And filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
The claim turned out to be entirely bogus. But filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
UPDATE: J.D. Johannes emails:
I’m not going to second guess the military HQ that cancelled the rescue op.
There are plenty of reasons to cancel an op, especially if the rescuers will likely need to be rescued.
What I can’t understand are the lies. There is nothing in the fact pattern that would be very damaging. Islamists attacked, brave ambassador was killed in the line of duty. Rescue mission was too dangerous. That does not damage the President or State.
My big question is who was in the conference room when the idea to blame it on a YouTube video was brought up and who said “yeah, that is a good idea?”
And what was the calculus that the facts were too dangerous?
Yes, I wonder about that too. Either (1) there are much, much bigger secrets here (I have no idea what) such that the Administration would rather look both inept and dishonest than talk about them; or (2) people focused on domestic politics, but not very slick, were running the show. And filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
UPDATE: Speechwriters as experts: it’s all about the words. “The president seems to prefer to have people around him with even less experience and expertise than he has, which is saying something. . . . So it occurs to me that maybe the simplest way to describe what happened in Benghazi is that, from start to finish, nearly everyone in charge and everyone who was a close and trusted advisor to those in charge was a political operative. Everyone. This of course includes Obama and Hillary Clinton, and all the supposed national security advisors such as Rhodes.”
VIDEO: Mother of Slain Benghazi Victim: ‘I Blame’ Hillary Clinton for Son’s Death. Benghazi was a pathetic display of ineptitude and ass-covering.
U.S. special operations forces in Libya could have saved Americans killed in the attack last Sept. 11 on the consulate in Benghazi but were told to stand down, a State Department whistle-blower has told congressional investigators.
The testimony by Gregory Hicks, who will appear before a House panel on Wednesday, contradicts previous testimony by administration officials who have said all U.S. forces in Libya were deployed the night of the attack.
Hicks was in Tripoli during the attack and became the top U.S. diplomat in Libya when Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.
He said the special operations team was ready to fly after Stevens was killed but before a second attack killed two other Americans.
After Libya’s prime minister called to tell him Stevens had died, Hicks said: “The Libyan military agreed to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and carry additional personnel to Benghazi as reinforcements.”
But as the special operations team headed to the airport, Hicks said, they got a phone call from Special Operations Command Africa saying, “you can’t go now; you don’t have authority to go now.”
The C-130 ended up leaving after the attack was over and the four Americans were dead.
Disgraceful. And filmmaker Nakoula, whose YouTube video served as the basis for a lame cover story that no one believes any more, is still in jail.
UPDATE: Reader Richard Whitten writes: “How long before Obama Administration throws Hillary under the bus? They seem to have a penchant for doing that.” Right now, protecting her for 2016 is a priority, but if she looks like damaged goods they’ll sacrifice her pretty fast.
ROGER SIMON: Benghazi Continued: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. “From what we know so far, the U. S. Department of State participated in the cover-up of an Islamist terror attack on the brink of a U. S. presidential election, implying the murders of our fellow citizens were inspired by an execrable video that nobody saw. I can’t think of anything more despicable and more disrespectful to all of us — and most especially to the families of the deceased.”
And filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
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.
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.
BUT FILMMAKER NAKOULA IS STILL IN JAIL: Benghazi Whistleblower: ‘My Jaw Hit the Floor’ as White House Blamed YouTube.
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.
UPDATE: Benghazi Plot Thickens.
FILMMAKER NAKOULA IS STILL IN JAIL: The Benghazi Talking Points. “Even as the White House strove last week to move beyond questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults. The Weekly Standard has obtained a timeline briefed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence detailing the heavy substantive revisions made to the CIA’s talking points, just six weeks before the 2012 presidential election, and additional information about why the changes were made and by whom.”
HAPPY WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY. Meanwhile, filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
AND WITH REASON: House report critical of Obama administration over Benghazi.
Senior State Department officials, including Clinton, approved reductions in security at the facilities in Benghazi, according to the report by GOP members of five House committees. The report cites an April 19, 2012, cable bearing Clinton’s signature acknowledging a March 28, 2012, request from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz for more security, yet allowing further reductions.
“Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel,” the report said.
Release of the report comes as dozens of House Republicans separately have pushed for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to create a select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Tuesday.
The report also is highly critical of President Barack Obama and White House staff. In the days following the attack, White House and senior State Department officials altered what the report said were accurate “talking points” drafted by the U.S. intelligence community in order to protect the State Department.
And contrary to what the administration claimed, the alterations were not made to protect classified information. “Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior administration officials,” according to the 43-page report.
They were trying to protect the pre-election narrative that terrorism was no longer anything we had to worry about. Meanwhile, filmmaker/scapegoat Nakoula is still in jail, even though nobody believes that his YouTube video had anything to do with Benghazi anymore.
ONLINE JOURNALISM REVIEW: Journalists should wake to Obama’s free speech record.
Goodale points to the administration’s use of the 1917 Espionage Act to sedate American journalism. “The biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it’s absolutely frightening,” he said. During Obama’s two terms, the Espionage Act has been used to prosecute more alleged leakers than all former presidential offices combined.
Goodale said journalists don’t seem to consider this much of a problem. “They don’t believe it,” he told CJR. “I actually have talked to two investigative reporters who are household names, and I said, ‘Do you realize what’s happening to you if this goes forward?’ And I talk, I get no response, and the subject shifts to other parts of the book. No one seems to care.”
Meanwhile, nobody believes that a YouTube video was behind Benghazi, but filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.
Plus: “Johnson’s question to her and then to Kerry related to the point in time when the people in the Obama administration decided to mislead the public by actively pushing a phony story about the ‘Innocence of Muslim’” video. That was a strange thing to do, and both Clinton and Kerry have doggedly distracted us by pretending the question is why the attack occurred.”
But Mr. Nakoula is still in jail.
MILITARY LEGAL SYSTEM TYING ITSELF IN KNOTS in Nidal Hasan prosecution. Note the contrast between Hasan’s treatment and that of filmmaker Nakoula.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: An interview with Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the imprisoned filmmaker behind ‘Innocence of Muslims.’ “The NYT forefronts the fact that Nakoula angry and without remorse. I think he should be angry, and the NYT should show far more concern about free speech and political persecution.”
Plus, from the comments: “Maybe he can be called as a witness during S. Rice’s confirmation hearings.” Now that would be fun. The other notable thing about that NYT story is the rowback on the whole video-as-cause line.
MICHAEL WALSH: ANOTHER LAUGHABLE BENGHAZI LIE:
More than two months after an Islamist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, we still don’t know what really happened that night — and, thanks to a secretive White House and an incurious Washington press corps, we probably never will. Not officially, that is.
But there’s no real mystery about it. From the evidence that’s emerged in dribs and drabs since the Sept. 11 calamity, it’s clear that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan al Qaeda-affiliated group coordinating with its allies elsewhere in the Muslim world, used the cover of riots in Cairo to launch a preplanned assault on our lightly guarded Benghazi consulate and a CIA safe house that may have been doubling as a secret prison. . . .
What’s also heart-rendingly clear is that our diplomats and security personnel understood the danger they were in, repeatedly requested more resources — and were left to die, as US military and intelligence assets monitored their deaths in real time, lacking the orders to protect them.
Benghazi was a first-class military and moral disgrace, and one that the Democrats paid absolutely no price for in the recent election.
But the questions won’t go away. Who gave the order to stand down as the consulate was under fire? Who came up with the cockamamie story — so eagerly peddled by UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration spokespersons right after the event — that the sacking and looting were in response to an obscure video that lampooned the origins of Islam and had been posted on You Tube for months?
And why did President Obama cling to such a risible explanation, and then (with a timely assist from Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate) turn on a dime and claim he knew the assault was terrorism all along?
It will come out in the end, I suspect. Meanwhile, Mr. Nakoula is still in prison, because imprisoning a filmmaker was convenient for the President at the time.
MR. NAKOULA WAS UNAVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: Jailed Pussy Riot band member moved to ‘safe’ cell.
AND YET FILMMAKER NAKOULA IS STILL IN JAIL: CNN: Petraeus To Testify He Knew Libya Was Terrorism ‘Almost Immediately.’
Related: Members of Congress shown drone footage of attack in Benghazi. “Chairman Dianne Feinstein revealed that the video included footage of the attack from a Predator Drone.”
#NARRATIVEFAIL: White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails. “Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show. . . . Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.”
Mr. Nakoula was unavailable for comment — since, you know, he’s in jail until after the election.
RELATED (From Ed): Who’s going to tell Chris Matthews?
CONVENIENT NEW REVELATIONS: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks. What the CIA reportedly said on September 15: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”
This certainly makes the CIA look bad, at any rate. But notice how the story tries to turn this White House reliance on a bad report by its own intelligence agency into a Romney “misfire.”
UPDATE: Reader Ed Holston emails: “Sure looks like the CIA documents that supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks were revised from and at odds with the CIA’s own sources who were reporting from on the ground in Libya to Langley.” He sends this: CIA report at time of Benghazi attack placed blame on militants, sources say: CIA station chief in Libya reported within 24 hours that there was evidence US consulate attack was not carried out by a mob.
Remember when we were told that an Obama Administration would be marked by competence and good communication?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Hicks voices darker suspicions:
That memo raises more serious questions about the cover-up than it answers and does not provide cover for Obama. The information that they supposedly relied on for the memo was an intercept involving an Al Qaida operative. That Al Qaida connection was left out of the memo. More importantly, we know that the CIA knew the day after the attack that it was a terrorist attack and Al Qaida was involved. So why is the administration and CIA circulating the Talking Points memo, which goes to Capitol Hill, on the 15th? This looks more than anything like they were intentional deceiving Congress. Rice/Obama/Ignatius might have had a point if the memo were released on 12th. However, the release of of a memo on the 15th, to Congress, containing assertions everyone in the intelligence community knew to be false, raises the questions of who wrote the memo and who approved it. Obama himself has now claimed he called it a terrorist attack on the 12th. In any event, we know that was the conclusion of the intelligence community on the 12th. So why was he having the CIA lie to Congress on the 15th?
“Lie” is such a harsh word. And there may well have been confusion in the Administration. But they certainly showed no uncertainty or margin for ever in their insistent, and long-running, efforts to blame a YouTube video.
Say, anybody heard from Mr. Nakoula lately?
Related: White House Tries to Write Al Qaeda Out of Libya Story. “If this is the best the Obama administration can offer in its defense, they’re in trouble.”
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: THE GREAT GAFFE.
The rub for Obama comes, ironically enough, out of Romney’s biggest flub in the debate, the Libya question. That flub kept Romney from winning the evening outright. But Obama’s answer has left him a hostage to fortune. Missed by Romney, missed by the audience, missed by most of the commentariat, it was the biggest gaffe of the entire debate cycle: Substituting unctuousness for argument, Obama declared himself offended by the suggestion that anyone in his administration, including the U.N. ambassador, would “mislead” the country on Libya.
This bluster — unchallenged by Romney — helped Obama slither out of the Libya question unscathed. Unfortunately for Obama, there is one more debate — next week, entirely on foreign policy. The burning issue will be Libya and the scandalous parade of fictions told by this administration to explain away the debacle.
No one misled? His U.N. ambassador went on not one but five morning shows to spin a confection that the sacking of the consulate and the murder of four Americans came from a video-motivated demonstration turned ugly: “People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons.”
But there was no gathering. There were no people. There was no fray. It was totally quiet outside the facility until terrorists stormed the compound and killed our ambassador and three others.
The video? A complete irrelevance. It was a coordinated, sophisticated terror attack, encouraged, if anything, by Osama bin Laden’s successor, giving orders from Pakistan to avenge the death of a Libyan jihadist.
Read the whole thing. And has anybody heard from Mr. Nakoula lately?
ANDREW MCCARTHY: It’s Not Just Obama’s Lies — It’s the Premise of Obama’s Lies.
Obama’s emphasis on the video as causation was so demonstratively false that detractors have focused myopically on the lying. This serves short-term political objectives: a president who richly deserves to lose is reeling with the election just 19 days away.
Nevertheless, long-term societal needs are being disserved. Focus on the administration’s serial lies has left unrefuted the obnoxious premise of these lies.
It is as though we have conceded that if the movie had actually triggered protests that led to violence (as Islamist protests are wont to do), responsibility for that violence would lie with the filmmakers. The culprit would be our culture of liberty and reason, not the anti-democratic culture of the Muslim Middle East.
That is dangerous nonsense.
Constitutionally protected speech can never be legitimized as a cause of violence. Period.
Related thoughts from Roger Kimball. “The Obama administration has been complicit in this attack on the First Amendment, subverting the law by resorting to extra-legal means to achieve the same ends. What happened to Nakoula Nakoula, the alleged producer of that internet video, is one example. Others are the bullying speeches administration officials, from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on down, have made and the Pakistani television commercials that, at U.S. taxpayer expense, criticize the video and its author.”
COMPETENCE: Video? What video? “A senior State Department official says his department never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam, raising further questions about why the Obama administration initially used that explanation after assailants killed four Americans there.” When will Mr. Nakoula get an apology?
I TALK ABOUT THE MOHAMMED VIDEO AND THE NAKOULA ARREST ON CHINESE VOA TV: It’s in Chinese.
JEN RUBIN IN THE WASHINGTON POST: MSM: Hey, the president dissembled on Libya.
Late Friday afternoon the spokesman for Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper Jr. released a statement in which the intelligence head tried to fall on the administration’s sword on the Libyan-consulate debacle. But the problem was that Clapper’s statement did not absolve the administration of repeatedly making false statements after intelligence agencies knew this was a planned al-Qaeda terrorist attack.
The Post’s Glenn Kessler got things started with a devastating timeline of the Libya events. Then Fox News’s Bret Baier put together an extremely useful video account of the sequence of events. . . .
In its own ticktock of events, the Times, like other outlets, makes clear that even if DNI was initially confused, the White House and other top officials continued to push the connection to the anti-Muslim film long after it was known that this was an orchestrated al-Qaeda assault.
No doubt the mainstream media were slow to get to this story, because they initially labeled the episode a “bad for Mitt Romney’s campaign” story. However, the real Libya story is only now unfolding. It will be impossible for the president to avoid scrutiny and for others to escape blame for what appears to be either the most inept response to a terrorist attack in memory or a clumsy effort to shove an intelligence failure under the rug so as to keep the president’s campaign on track.
If Obama is smart, he’ll get the entire story out quickly and completely. It’s never the screw-up that gets you, it’s always the cover-up. And Obama better come clean. Fast.
An apology to Mr. Nakoula would be nice, too.
NEWSBUSTERS: CBS Radio Reporter Cheers the State’s Ability to ‘Punish the Filmmaker’ for Upsetting Muslims? Here’s the segment that aired on CBS Radio yesterday:
CBS RADIO ANCHOR (Steve Kathan): The man behind the anti-Islam video that sparked outrage in the Muslim world is still in jail in Los Angeles. It’s for a probation violation.
RAVIV: I’m Dan Raviv in Washington. The short movie posted on YouTube has had a lot of diplomatic impact. It was *clearly* designed to insult the Prophet Mohammed, and a senior Obama administration official told CBS News last week that no one in the Middle East seems to believe that the US government could not stop the film from getting out. Now at least Federal authorities might be able to *punish* the filmmaker.”
ANCHOR The Dow is down 69. This is CBS News.
There’s audio at the link, so you can decide for yourself, but to my ears, Raviv does sound pretty darn enthusiastic about Nakoula’s arrest. As Tim Graham of Newsbusters asks, “Is this the way CBS News reveres freedom of speech? Is Raviv unaware that he sounds like he supports punishing those who speak ill of Muhammad?”
Remember all the people who were upset when this happened to actual terrorists? They’re nowhere to be heard now, when it’s being done to someone whose role is scapegoat for the White House’s national-security ineptitude.
PANDERING TO RADICAL ISLAMISTS: The arrest of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka “Sam Bacile”), the producer of the Mohammed video, is an affront to the First Amendment. The feds nabbed him for an alleged parole violation. Even if true, it seems improbable that Nakoula would have been apprehended in the absence of his association with the video. If this is correct, it suggests that the Obama Administration is willing to use its vast power to jail people for publishing “offensive” material — particularly material offensive to the radical Islamists.
Would it be alright for a President to instruct federal prosecutors to create a “black list” of, say, communists/Republicans/tea partiers — pick your own least favorite group– and target them for investigation and arrest for any matter disinterred? Surely this would be viewed as an abuse of power, and an affront to the First Amendment. Talk about a “chilling effect” on free speech!
This is getting scary, folks.
AT THE SMOKING GUN: Feds Arrest Producer Of Controversial Anti-Islam Film On Probation Violation Charge:
Investigators have not yet provided details about how Nakoula allegedly violated probation, but it seems clear that his involvement in the “Innocence of Muslim” production is central to the government’s claim.
RELATED: “Brazilian court bans ‘Innocence of Muslims,’” AP reports. “The lawsuit against the controversial film was brought by a Brazilian Muslim group, the National Islamic Union, against YouTube owner Google Inc for posting on the Internet a film it said was offensive and a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion.”
MORE: From Allahpundit, paraphrasing the takeaway quote from Obama’s recent speech to the UN: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. And if we occasionally have to haul a guy in on a probation violation to ensure that the future doesn’t belong to him, hey.”
#NARRATIVEFAIL: Obama: ‘No doubt’ attack on US Consulate in Libya was terrorism. Maybe an apology to Mr. Nakoula is in order?
ON OBAMA OWING NAKOULA AN APOLOGY:
We’re barraged by new distractions, so let’s catch things that are slipping down the memory hole. It’s not just Nakoula. It’s Chris Stevens. Our ambassador was murdered, and he was murdered after he was targeted and he was not given security.
Shame on those who disrespected Nakoula’s freedom of speech. Their faults are apparent and need to be remembered. But what happened to Chris Stevens? I don’t trust that we’ve learned the whole story. Why wasn’t he protected? Was he an inconvenient man? We saw such an effort to create static around his death. Look — riots over here, here, and here! Offensive video on the internet! Man with a “towel” around his face! And hey check out the most important thing that happened all week: Romney said “47%” to some people back in May!
The very fact that we’re thinking about Nakoula — and futzing with Romney rhetoric — makes me feel that Chris Stevens got stuffed down the memory hole.
Who wanted that forgetting and why?
Well, I have a hunch. Plus, from the comments: “Anybody tries to call himself President who hears an American consulate is under attack and just goes back to bed owes said Ambassador a lot more than an apology.”
Plus: “There aren’t that many assassinations of American officials. I have never seen anything like this one, where we as a people are encouraged to dilute the incident with all these other events of a much more mundane variety. An assassination should stand apart — clear and shocking and in need of precise investigation.” I’m pretty sure that investigation will be designed to ensure that no findings are made until after the election.
JUST DID A VIDEO INTERVIEW FOR VOA on the Administration’s response to the Nakoula film, which I called “a foreign policy debacle of the first order.” We’ll see if it airs.
ELI LAKE: Obama’s Shaky Libya Narrative. “Ten days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House’s official story about the incident appears to be falling apart.”
When will Mr. Nakoula get an apology?
CHANGING THEIR STORY: Administration now admits Benghazi was a “terrorist attack.”
That must come as a comfort to Mr. Nakoula.
AUSTIN BAY: Al Qaeda’s YouTube Tet. “The Benghazi attack wasn’t an act of sudden rage, an escalating protest kindled by a sacrilegious video. It was a calculated act of war conducted on a date, 9/11, with political significance and symbolic power.”
JUST A REMINDER:
UPDATE: It’s interesting to watch Kevin Drum wrestle with this. He admits that the Obama Administration is a civil liberties disaster, but somehow has to pretend that Nakoula is a “right wing hero.” But pretty much everybody on the right I’ve seen thinks the film stinks. It’s not about Nakoula, it’s about Obama. Drum, who’s a decent guy, grasps this at one level, but the cognitive dissonance is killing him. Must not be seen to agree with evil rightbloggers . . . .
Lefties are troubled by this photo for two reasons. One is that it’s bad for Obama, to whom they are, ahem, overly committed. But the other is that it’s just plain troubling. They don’t want to admit that the Messiah of 2008 is actually a somewhat thuggish Chicago Machine politician. But reality does seem to be creeping in.
Hey, maybe this’ll help.
HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY: Observe it appropriately.
UPDATE: A rather lame response from Conor Friedersdorf, boiling down to a mixture of move along, nothing to see here and, of course, BUUUSSSHHH!
First, is the “secret torture program” he’s talking about the one where the Justice Department investigation was recently closed without recommending any prosecutions? And I — unlike, say, Oliver Willis, — have always opposed torture, though I have entertained some doubts that waterboarding counts. So, apparently, did Holder’s DOJ, which I’ll admit is possible reason for me to reconsider.
Second, Conor makes a crucial mistake here — the things he complains about may or may not be bad, but they are not aimed at Presidents’ political enemies (or inconveniences) within the United States. When a President turns his powers unconstitutionally against domestic political problems, it raises a whole different risk of abuse. That’s what’s involved here. And the notion that this was a routine probation matter fails the laugh test, at least for anyone who actually knows anything.
As for the “literally,” do try to keep up. This is an advanced blog, and expects readers to pay attention.
NICK GILLESPIE: U.S. Foreign Policy Not to Blame for Anything!, Plus: Alleged Innocence of Muslims Filmmaker Nakoula Voluntarily Accepts Ride from Police. “Which is to say, the focus on the film and the larger notion of free expression as the real problem is pretty goddman godawful. . . . At least since the end of the Cold War, the United States has drifted along without anything resembling a coherent or sustained conversation about foreign policy, much less working to hash out a consensus position that reflects our body politic. In the 1990s, we witnessed Bill Clinton lurching from action to action. He ordered 25 major troop deployments over eight years, twice as many as Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush entered office promising a “humble” foreign policy that repudiated “nation building” and then embraced a disastrous “region building” approach from which we have yet to extricate ourselves. Barack Obama tripled troops in Afghanistan without bothering to clarify our mission there and unilaterally decided to drop bombs in Libya.”
I like this one. Er, if “like” is the right term.
And, of course, the perennial joke:
That one never fails. Lots more at the link.
Oh, okay. One more:
UPDATE: For those too lazy to look, I never used the words “Nazi paramilitary-type” officers, despite the apparent quote at the inaptly-named “Moderate Voice.” Hackalicious.
ANTI-ISLAM FILMMAKER MAY FACE JAIL TIME. Not even a hint in this ABC story that there might be a free speech issue somewhere. Do you really believe this is just an ordinary probation case?
Related: Supermassive Blackhole of Obama Incompetence Sucks in First Amendment. I’m sure that characterization is somehow racist. “Hey Obama! The Libyans have actually offered a helpful hint that you may just want to follow-up on, in terms of the true origin of these festivities: al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials formally state something that has become transparently clear: The U.S. ignored Arab radicalization: We knew what was happening, but the Americans preferred to find excuses.”
Meanwhile, folks have been busy with the Quickmemes:
Lots more at the link. Make and share your own!
JIM BENNETT WRITES:
Compare Margaret Thatcher and Rushdie to Obama and Nakoula.
When Salman Rushdie had a death fatwa pronounced on him for a novel considered insulting to Islam, Margaret Thatcher immediately ordered a protective detail to be sent to Rushdie, who took him to an undisclosed secure location. They have been protecting him ever since. Bear in mind that Rushdie had been a severe and vocal critic and political opponent of Thatcher.
Compare and contrast to Obama and Holder’s treatment of Nakoula.
I will also note that the reaction to Britain in the Middle East was not noticeably worse than the reaction the USA is getting despite Obama’s apologies.
Weakness seldom draws a good reaction.
Take a look at just the first minute or so of this report. Look at all of the media trucks in this sleepy little neighborhood, and not just KTLA’s. If anyone interested in taking revenge on Nakoula Besseley Nakoula wanted to know where to find him, it wouldn’t take long in this small city, especially with some media reports noting Nakoula’s distinctive front door. And while some people wouldn’t care about Nakoula’s fate, the kind of people looking to take revenge on him aren’t really known for their precision attacks and avoidance of collateral damage. This media swarm puts that entire neighborhood at risk, now and probably for a very long time.
And for what? Is Nakoula a serial killer? A child molester? No, he’s a man with poor taste who made a video that insulted some people who can’t deal with criticism, even the laughably inane and inept criticism of this 14-minute cheesefest that makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. However, in the US, making really bad movies and engaging in even inept theological and historical commentary isn’t a crime at all. The media are undermining the same guarantees of free speech that allow them to operate without government interference, and they’re putting people’s lives at risk while doing so. They’re not going to be happy until there’s another crater in Cerritos.
Meanwhile, while the media provides moment-to-moment coverage of Thoughtcrime Enemy #1 this week, the feds are interrogating him as to whether his filmmaking might violate his probation on unrelated matters. . . . Here’s the question: would any of these people care about Nakoula’s probation status had the video not purportedly caused riots? If so, isn’t this pursuit more about the kind of speech in which Nakoula engaged than in what kind of activity he may have conducted with computers and the Internet? This is dangerous ground for free speech, and the media is making Cerritos into dangerous ground in a much more literal sense.
The media used to call themselves preventers of tyranny. They seem more like enablers, these days.
OBAMA AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT: THE QUICKMEME. I like this one:
Make your own here. Share liberally.
WHY BARACK OBAMA SHOULD RESIGN. Just for the record, this is what it looked like for a man who made a film that made the Obama Administration uncomfortable:
Here’s the key bit: “Just after midnight Saturday morning, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Muslim world.”
When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.
He won’t resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he’s not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer’s misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker’s door.
But Obama’s behavior — and that of his enablers in the press — has laid down a marker for those who are paying attention. By these actions he is, I repeat, unfit to hold office. I hope and expect that the voters will agree in November.
Related thoughts from Ann Althouse:
That’s a scarf wrapped around his face, not a “towel.” Is the L.A. Times nudging us to think of this man as a “towelhead”? And look at this headline in the Daily Mail: “The man who set the Middle East ablaze hides his face in shame….” Shame? If I were imputing a motivation to this man, I’d say he has a fully justified fear of becoming a recognizable face.
But I think our government is delusional if it thinks the people who are rioting in Africa and killing our diplomats would — if they knew the facts — see individuals like Nakoula as the proper focus of their rage. They don’t believe the necessary premise: freedom as the superior value. As long as they favor a system in which blasphemy is outlawed and severely punished, they will continue to blame the American government for standing back and allowing blasphemy to flourish and flow everywhere. What good does it do to ask them to please understand our system? They hate this system.
Meanwhile, our government would scapegoat a
freecitizen. It’s not even effectual scapegoating.
Note Althouse’s strikethrough. You are not “free” when police can come to your door after midnight and demand that you “come downtown and answer a few questions” over a film you’ve made. Voluntarily, of course. . . .
It’s the deputies who should be covering their faces out of shame, but the real shame is on the man at the top of the hierarchy.
UPDATE: Reader J.M. Hanes writes: “I went berserk over the L.A.T. Nakoula photo too, but on top of the brownshirted Constitutional debacle, one incredibly consequential point has gotten lost in the shuffle: Could any visual more effectively reinforce the Arab street’s belief that the U.S. government can, in fact, punish blasphemers if it so chooses?”
Good point, and it ties in well to these comments by Eugene Volokh.
Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated. (Relatedly, “once you have paid him the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane.”) Say that the murders in Libya lead us to pass a law banning some kinds of speech that Muslims find offensive or blasphemous, or reinterpreting our First Amendment rules to make it possible to punish such speech under some existing law.
What then will extremist Muslims see? They killed several Americans (maybe itself a plus from their view). In exchange, they’ve gotten America to submit to their will. And on top of that, they’ve gotten back at blasphemers, and deter future blasphemy. A triple victory.
Would this (a) satisfy them that now America is trying to prevent blasphemy, so there’s no reason to kill over the next offensive incident, or (b) make them want more such victories? My money would be on (b).
And this is especially so since there’ll be plenty of other excuses for such killings in the future. It’s not like Muslim extremists have a clearly defined, unvarying, and limited range of speech they are willing to kill over (e.g., desecrating Korans and nothing but). Past history has already proved that; consider the bombings and murders triggered by the publication of the Satanic Verses.
What’s more, there are lots of people in the Muslim world who are happy to stoke hostility. . . . That’s why it seems to me to actually be safer — not just better for First Amendment principles, but actually safer for Americans — to hold the line now, and make clear that American speech is protected even if foreigners choose to respond to it with murder. That would send the message, “murder won’t get you what you want.” Not a perfectly effective message to be sure, but a better one than “murder will get you what you want.”
Read the whole thing. Especially if you work in the White House or the Justice Department.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Donald Sensing. “There is no possible justification for voting for this man in November. None, period.”
And reader Joel Mackey writes: “For the people that think that man had it coming due to prior run ins with the law, they should realize that they commit 3 felonies a day, the feds have all the reason they need to knock on your door at midnight, if you cause problems for them.” Yes, given that the laws are so complex that pretty much everyone is a felon, prosecutorial discretion rules. And that discretion needs to be bounded by political norms that you don’t abuse it just to go after people who express ideas you don’t want expressed. Those norms come from the First Amendment, but if there’s no cost to violating them, they won’t last.
MORE: Reader Richard Eastland writes:
Those who think he had it coming because of probation are sticking their heads in the sand.
He wasn’t hounded because he violated probation. He was persecuted because he made a video that the federal government is upset with.
Regardless of the “how” they are justifying their actions, the “why” is completely clear.
If you use his, please use my name. I refuse to be bullied by those who would use force to silence, be they terrorists or my own government.
Good for you. And reader Paul Crabtree writes: “Although the midnight raid to punish free speech is beyond deplorable, I guess we should be relieved that the Nobel Prize winner didn’t order a drone strike on his house.” Heh. We probably don’t have to worry about those . . . in the first term.
MORE STILL: Reader Jack Moody writes:
Prosecuting someone because they broke the law is one thing.
Only prosecuting someone who broke the law, after they embarrassed the administration, is gangster government, extortion, and the road to totalitarianism.
And that’s pretty clearly what’s happened here. Though to be fair, they didn’t actually prosecute him. Just took him downtown to answer a few questions. Voluntarily. After midnight. With a lot of TV cameras there, somehow.
And sorry, claims that this was just a routine probation matter don’t pass the laugh test. They’re just pure hackery.
And reader Rob Beile paraphrases Dean Wormer: “Incompetent, Thuggish and Cowardly is no way to lead The Free World, Mr. President.”
MORE STILL: Reader Jack Moss writes: “Probation is not a law enforcement function, it’s under the court. If his probation officer wanted to question him about the use of a computer, that broke his probation fine. But that wouldn’t include questions about making an anti-Islamic movie. It’s irrelevant. That means that the FBI showed up outside their jurisdiction for a reason given by their superiors. The question then is who ordered them there.”
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, POLITICALLY TROUBLESOME INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS WOULD BE HARASSED BY THE AUTHORITIES — AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Alleged ‘Innocence of Muslims’ filmmaker taken in for interviewing by deputies.
This running gag isn’t as funny as it used to be. Imagine the uproar if we had a Republican in the White House — but it’s the absence of uproar over these tactics that is really revealing. It’s going to be really hard for the press and pundits who should be raising a stink about this, but aren’t, to play their “have you no decency?” games during a Republican Administration. They’ll try, of course, but they should be treated with the contempt they deserve. And that should start now, actually.