Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Can Be Whomever You Want Him To Be.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is in federal prison. He's scheduled to remain there until September. He's held under the name "Nakoula Basseley Nakoula," not as "Sam Bacile" (the name he used make the anti-Islamic film "the Innocence of Muslims,") nor under the name "Mark Bassely Youssef" (which he now claims is his current correct name, notwithstanding that he pleaded guilty to a federal crime under the Nakoula name).

Why is he in prison? It depends on who's talking.

To hear some people talk, he's in prison because he made an anti-Islamic movie, because the Obama Administration is eager to cover up the root causes of the Benghazi catastrophe, and because the Obama Administration wants to appease censorious Islamists. Some people merely imply this with headlines: "The guy who made “Innocence of Muslims” is still in jail, and we still don’t know who attacked Benghazi" Some people, like National Review's Rich Lowry, come right out and say it, asserting that Nakoula would not have been arrested and charged with a supervised release revocation but for his speech:

He is not going to win any good citizenship awards and violated the terms of his probation by using an alias (something Nakoula admits).

A violation of probation, though, usually produces a court summons and doesn’t typically lead to more jail time unless it involves an offense that would be worth prosecuting in its own right under federal standards. Not for Nakoula.

This wasn’t a case of nailing Al Capone on tax evasion. As Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute points out, Al Capone’s underlying offense was racketeering and gangland killings. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula’s underlying offense wasn’t an underlying offense. He exercised his First Amendment rights.

Some call him a political prisoner.

These people all have something in common. They've never prosecuted a supervised release revocation in federal court. They've never defended someone accused of violating supervised release in federal court. They've never worked as a federal probation officer or filed a petition to revoke a sueprvisee's release. They've never worked as a federal judge and approved or denied such a petition, or presided over such a hearing. They've never seen a supervised release revocation hearing. Moreover, I'd wager a substantial amount of money that before they opined about the proceedings against Nakoula they didn't talk to anyone who had ever done any of these things, or anyone reasonably well informed about how they are done.

I've observed, and participated in, federal supervised release revocation proceedings since 1995. In writing about Nakoula I've drawn not only on that experience but on the actual documents from his case and on the law. My premise has been this: anyone on supervised release for a federal fraud conviction and owing more than $700,000 in restitution would face supervised release revocation if the Probation Office discovered that they were using aliases, engaging in unreported financial transactions, and using computers in those transactions, all in violation of their terms of release. Most federal judges would issue arrest warrants, not summonses, and most federal judges would order jail time to such a person if they found he had obtained and used a false driver's license and concealed transactions from the Probation Officer. Rich Lowry's claim that "[a] violation of probation, though, usually produces a court summons and doesn’t typically lead to more jail time unless it involves an offense that would be worth prosecuting in its own right under federal standards" is quite frankly pulled straight out of his ass. Supervisees are routinely arrested rather than summoned, particularly when there are indications they might be a flight risk — like using a false identity. Supervisees are routinely returned to prison for offenses that would never be prosecuted federally as separate crimes.

Is Nakoula in federal prison because he made the "Innocence of Muslims" video? Superficially, perhaps, in the sense that his behavior may have escaped detection if he hadn't become famous. It's even possible that someone in the Obama Administration tipped off — or pressured — the Probation Office about his conduct. (If that's what happened, there ought to be a Congressional investigation.) But Nakoula's conduct is the sort that would absolutely be pursued if detected by his Probation Office and would routinely result in a revocation of supervised release and a return to federal prison. People saying otherwise don't know what they are talking about or don't care, or both.

I support a vigorous Congressional inquiry into the attack at Benghazi. The most charitable interpretations of the inquiry to date raise grave concerns about the honesty and decency of Obama Administration officials. I support asking hard questions about whether anyone in the administration contacted the U.S. Probation Office in Los Angeles about Nakoula. But this inquiry doesn't require, and shouldn't encourage, lying about the law. We should absolutely fight, to our last breath, pressure to yield to unprincipled "hate speech" and "anti-blasphemy" norms of other countries. But the cause of freedom of expression is not advanced by cynical and dishonest partisan bullshit.

Edited to add:

PrettyCunning

Mr. Baldwin, you're completely awesome. But my days of taking you serious politically are certainly coming to a middle.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    the cause of freedom of expression is not advanced by cynical and dishonest partisan bullshit.

    Added to my ever-growing queue of bumper stickers that need to happen.

  2. Peter says

    A query on the procedure here. You say it would be improper for the Obama administration to call the Probation Office in LA. Is there a right way for them to have routed any information about criminality? That is, assuming I as a senior political appointee (not that I am) in my official duties become aware of information which a normal person might report to the police, whom should I report that information to if not trying to peddle my influence and legitimately just report criminal activity to the cops?

  3. says

    yea, we can't talk about "free speech" until it includes (without equivocation) any legal (non-riot inciting) speech with which someone else may vehemently disagree.

    @totstroc – i'm not sure many in this country would understand, there's a lot of big words in there.

  4. naught_for_naught says

    If we just stipulate right now that it was in fact Hilary Clinton, herself, dressed all in Muslim garb, wielding an AK and several RPGs, and with malice in her heart for everything good and American, that attacked and killed four Americans in Benghazi, would Representative Issa, that fucking little ankle biter from La Jolla, California, agree to move on to other issues of pressing importance?

    Or would she also need to guarantee that her 2016 campaign headshot would feature her wearing a hijab, saving the assembled rabble the time and effort required to draw it on themselves?

  5. says

    I second Peter's query here. Ken, what would be wrong with someone (even if they are in the Administration) reporting a violation of the terms of a supervised release? While it may smack of retribution, political calculation, etc., I fail to see how it would be illegal. Is there some other law or rule out there you were thinking of and of which we aren't aware?

  6. says

    Peter and DP:

    I would be very troubled by a higher-up Administration official reporting Nakoula to Probation to gain political or geopolitical advantage in the Benghazi affair. It might not be illegal (I can't think of any law specifically prohibiting it.) It's not selective prosecution, because that requires both (1) targeting based on speech, and (2) prosecution for something that normally doesn't get prosecuted, which isn't present here. But the Administration intruding into the guy's case – particularly because it wouldn't have been motivated by genuine concern about his probation violations — would reflect very badly on the Administration and would give context to the rest of their actions.

  7. Shelby says

    Photos of Nakoula's arrest show a significant number of officers (I think 8 to 12 or so) were there at midnight, along with multiple members of the press, lighting equipment, etc. I cannot imagine how that happens with a defendant no one had ever previously heard of, unless someone with a lot of pull wanted to make it happen for purely political purposes.

  8. ChicagoTom says

    It might not be illegal (I can't think of any law specifically prohibiting it.) It's not selective prosecution, because that requires both (1) targeting based on speech, and (2) prosecution for something that normally doesn't get prosecuted, which isn't present here.

    So it's not illegal and not selective prosecution, but the the congressional clown show should investigate it anyway?

    For what exactly? They can't even properly investigate when real crimes are committed but they should make a political show about something that isn't illegal?

    That's some odd logic, to me.

  9. says

    They should investigate it because (1) if the Administration did it, it shows the Administration taking steps to pursue bogus narratives about what happened in Benghazi rather than genuine ones, and (2) as with the Administration contacting YouTube, it shows the Administration giving disturbing deference to foreign "right not to be offended" principles.

  10. Mel Krehbiel says

    Probation typically involves restricting rights you would otherwise have. "Using aliases … in violation of their terms of release." would be one of those. And I can well understand where using an alias in a financial or "official identity" context would be prohibited. But as aliases are commonly used on blogs and message boards, I have to inquire: do those cases also fall under probation prohibitions (say that three times fast!) as a general rule? Or only where the offense was related to such things specifically?

    I don't mean to imply that such might be the case in this instance, but since I'm unfamiliar with the topic, I would learn more.

  11. says

    I implied from your claim that Congress should investigate that you believed it would be illegal. Thanks for the clarification.

  12. Firehand says

    Yeah, Naught is right! Who cares about security drawdowns and lies and all that stuff; at this point, what does it matter?

  13. Bob Brown says

    I was born in the United States and have an American's understanding that one's name is what's on one's birth certificate, or maybe one's marriage license. I'm a college teacher, and I've noticed that some international students, particularly from the middle east and Africa, have a somewhat more relaxed attitude about names. Could that be what's going on here? (Not excusing; just asking.)

  14. En Passant says

    Ken quotes National Review's Rich Lowry:

    A violation of probation, though, usually produces a court summons and doesn’t typically lead to more jail time unless it involves an offense that would be worth prosecuting in its own right under federal standards. Not for Nakoula.

    And notes of those who believe that assertion:

    These people all have something in common. They've never prosecuted a supervised release revocation in federal court. They've never defended someone accused of violating supervised release in federal court.

    The same is true of state probation violations.

    I've seen state probationers get time in the joint for possession of a joint. At the time, minor possession was misdemeanor that drew nothing more than a fine. But it was a VOP.

    I agree that a congressional investigation is fair game given the accusation of high level coverup. But I'd bet more along the lines that it was some minor probation bureaucrat with a politically correct wild hair wedged up a dark place.

    I think restrictions on non-criminal speech in probation terms are abhorrent, including use of aliases for non-criminal purposes. But they exist, and they are prosecuted if discovered.

  15. says

    You make a fair case that Nakoula is held legitimately held (if it was illegal to make a REALLY AWFUL trailer he'd be in for life and I'm talking quality, not subject matter)

    But it was the administration and their media allies that trumpeted this as something other than the route arrest of a fraudster both nationally & internationally and turned it into a free speech case as it gave the impression that speech against Islam that upsets enemies means the government will find an offense to jail you for.

    Believe me after one look at that trailer (and remember a trailer is supposed to make people WANT TO watch a movie) would prevent any person not thrilled to get an e-mail from a Nigerian prince wanting to give them millions from giving him a penny ever again.

    Instead when he is released he will, not without cause, be hailed as a person arrested with great fanfare to save the Administration political bacon two months before an election.

    Now enabling a con man is the least of the crimes concerning Benghazi but it's one more thing that can be laid at the White House's feet.

  16. tsrblke says

    Part of the problem here, I think is how this all came about though.
    First the attack.
    Then the claim it was the video.
    Then the idea that we must find out who made this video.
    Which then lead to Mr. Nakoula's current state.

    It's step 3 in there that's perplexing to me. Calling him a political prisoner I think does disservice to actual political prisoners, since he did commit violations of his parole. However, are we comfortable the fact that an investigation of speech is how we uncovered the crime.

    There's really not a good analogy I can come up with since this case is so weird. I had started to type "what if I stood in my yard with a sign that said "The Police state is overgrown." every time cops drove by." But even that analogy isn't really apt.

    The bigger question is, when anonymous speech offends someone, does the police force have the power to start investigating the source of that speech? If we say "no" in this case it's entirely possible Nakoula skates on his parole violations (because they're not found. Although it's possible he trips up somewhere else and they are found by more mundane means.) Given the trade offs we make for security and freedom on a daily basis, I'm not sure that outcome is so awful though. (Things certainly get more complicated when you have private actors trying to unmask someone.)

  17. Oomph says

    I wonder whether Adam Baldwin would want to #FreeNokoula if the film had been anti-American or anti-Christian?

  18. Darryl S says

    Nobody else seems to have said anything about it, and this adds nothing of value to the discussion, but I appreciated the Firefly reference.

  19. says

    Mr. Baldwin, you're completely awesome. But my days of taking you serious politically are certainly coming to a middle.

    Shiny!

  20. Brett Middleton says

    I used to believe in the awesome, wholesome power of vigorous Congressional investigations. Then I watched the Congressional hearings on Waco on C-SPAN back in 1996. All of it. Since then I've pretty much ignored such investigations as futile, especially after the media gets done distorting it for us. (See Patterico's comments on the LA Times coverage of Hicks's testimony.)

    Of course, there wasn't much in the way of alternative media back in 1996, and I don't think the word "blog" had yet been invented. Perhaps more of the truth uncovered by such investigations is getting out. Unfortunately, Congressional hearings are not well designed for ferreting out a whole lot of truths, and nothing much ever seems to get done about what IS revealed. Bah.

  21. Dictatortot says

    Yeah, Nakoula's imprisonment seems to be simply because of how the system works–it's not necessarily because anyone had ulterior motives. But here's the uncomfortable, possibly even unfair part: when possible ulterior motives are THIS thick on the ground, the Administration shouldn't be surprised if a lot of people infer them. If they had anything at all to do with easing the path of Nakoula/Sam/Mark/??? into custody, even if legally, it might prove awfully shortsighted politically.

  22. pillsy says

    @tsrblke:

    The bigger question is, when anonymous speech offends someone, does the police force have the power to start investigating the source of that speech?

    IIRC, it was journalists who linked Nakoula to "Innocence of Muslims", not law enforcement officials.

  23. Tarrou says

    I think the anger over Nakoula is quite rightly based in the asymmetry of the only person who has been even identified as culpable in the Benghazi fiasco, much less punished, is Nakoula. And based on what the administration themselves say (now), he had less than nothing to do with it. And while stipulating that he violated his parole, and the DoJ is perfectly within their rights to toss him in the can, we are all federal criminals of one sort or another. Saying that "oh well, he committed a crime" isn't much comfort. The doors are wide open for anyone to be convicted of anything the feds feel like throwing at the wall, provided they say or do something legal to bring down the wrath of the government.

  24. Tarrou says

    As a thought experiment: In the case of a national tragedy, what an administration could do is search the criminal databases for people on parole with links to the opposition party, tell everyone they were involved, have them thrown back into prison, declare victory, and quietly put it out a few months later that they were mistaken about the whole thing, but, you know, that was months ago, so no biggie.

  25. says

    As a thought experiment: In the case of a national tragedy, what an administration could do is search the criminal databases for people on parole with links to the opposition party, tell everyone they were involved, have them thrown back into prison, declare victory, and quietly put it out a few months later that they were mistaken about the whole thing, but, you know, that was months ago, so no biggie.

    Sure. Also, everyone in an opposition party could rape and murder and pillage and then claim that they are immune from prosecution because you've only heard of them to investigate them because they are in the opposition party. That's the equivalent ridiculous argument.

    There seems to be no dispute whatsoever that Nakoula was using a fake name, not just for the film but in general. Getting a fake driver's license will get you revoked. Nobody made up anything about him.

    I think the anger over Nakoula is quite rightly based in the asymmetry of the only person who has been even identified as culpable in the Benghazi fiasco, much less punished, is Nakoula. And based on what the administration themselves say (now), he had less than nothing to do with it. And while stipulating that he violated his parole, and the DoJ is perfectly within their rights to toss him in the can, we are all federal criminals of one sort or another. Saying that "oh well, he committed a crime" isn't much comfort. The doors are wide open for anyone to be convicted of anything the feds feel like throwing at the wall, provided they say or do something legal to bring down the wrath of the government.

    Okay. But you — and others making this argument — are appealing to the "everything's illegal, you commit three federal crimes a day" line of argument. That line of argument has a lot of merit. But it has little to do with this case. People who do what Nakoula did get revoked and returned to prison every day. It's routine. It's not one of the strange "you have no idea you're breaking the law" crimes.

    Nakoula defrauded banks using aliases, pled guilty (under a name he now admits was false), and was sentenced to a huge amount of restitution. The terms of supervised release had multiple purposes, one of which was to make sure he was making payments if he could. Instead, he got a fake driver's license and was doing financial transactions concealed from the probation officer. There is no world, real or hypothetical, where that doesn't yet you yanked.

  26. says

    @DP
    I second Peter's query here. Ken, what would be wrong with someone (even if they are in the Administration) reporting a violation of the terms of a supervised release? While it may smack of retribution, political calculation, etc., I fail to see how it would be illegal. Is there some other law or rule out there you were thinking of and of which we aren't aware?

    I would say that if a senior political appointee became aware of illegal activity, they would in fact have a positive duty to refer it to law enforcement.

    We don't know if anyone did or did not do so. But if someone did, they would also have a duty to disclose that, not to lie or obfuscate.

    Congress has a duty to provide oversight of all executive branch actions, not just those actions that may involve illegality.

  27. Tarrou says

    I'm not defending Mr. Nakoula, fraud is not a political crime, and he's pretty clearly one shady customer. I'm saying that in the wake of Benghazi, the hunt was on for a scapegoat. And the government pointed that finger, with the weight of the entire federal government, at Mr. Nakoula, based on what we now know that they knew (sorry for that construction) was a complete and total fabrication. I don't know if the administration pressured people to have him re-jailed, or if it was just the publicity. Whatever the case, there is something extremely rotten about targeting a random bad video on Youtube as a political scapegoat for administration failures. I get blaming the opposition, the "Republicans defunded State Dept." line, that's just politics. What bothers me is the idea that anyone who makes an offensive Youtube clip could be by merest chance, be selected to win the "we investigate your life until we find something we can jail you for" sweepstakes. The fact that the guy that they nabbed with it this time was also a turd does not make it less unsettling.

  28. says

    Whatever the case, there is something extremely rotten about targeting a random bad video on Youtube as a political scapegoat for administration failures.

    I agree. To the extent the administration blamed Benghazi on him, they were being dishonest, and should be called out.

    But what should the Probation Officer have done?

  29. says

    @Brett Middleton:

    I used to believe in the awesome, wholesome power of vigorous Congressional investigations. Then I watched the Congressional hearings on Waco on C-SPAN back in 1996. All of it.

    That auto-fellatio investigation convinced me of one thing, and one thing only: every resident of DC needs to be strung up from lampposts, the city needs to be burned to the ground (using low yield nukes) , and then we need to jackhammer through the glassy slag so that we can plow salt into the ground beneath.

    It's the only way to be sure.

  30. says

    Clark said,

    That auto-fellatio investigation convinced me of one thing, and one thing only: every resident of DC needs to be strung up from lampposts, the city needs to be burned to the ground (using low yield nukes) , and then we need to jackhammer through the glassy slag so that we can plow salt into the ground beneath.

    My one request is that you save the contents of the Smithsonian and the other museums, as well as the Library of Congress. There's some irreplaceable stuff in there.

  31. Tarrou says

    [q]But what should the Probation Officer have done?[/q]

    Likely exactly what he did. From the perspective of the PO, he has a duty to investigate allegations of parole violations, and if they result in actual violations being discovered, then someone's going to jail. But as I said, that logic is perfectly capable of being abusive when applied to everyone, and isn't that the point of laws? There's a chain of causation here, and it's hard to say that any particular link of it is morally or legally wrong, except for the original lies from Obama, Rice and Clinton. And those are probably not illegal, so we're left with a state of affairs where any time anyone with a bully pulpit big enough feels like stirring the pot, they can get people thrown in federal prison. The law officers will just be doing their jobs, the judges will be following the law, just as they did with Mr. Nakoula. And no, I don't think this will be regular or pervasive, but the precedent is a chilling one.

  32. Wick Deer says

    FWIW, Nakoula was not the only person held accountable for Benghazi. 4 state department officials were relieved of their positions. (Whether that punishment is sufficient is another matter entirely.)

  33. Tarrou says

    Wow, I am just making a hash of the quotations here. As I was saying:

    "The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

    The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back."

  34. Tarrou says

    Not to be pedantic mate, but you said "relieved of their positions". And they have not. Three are back in exactly the same position that they occupied before, after a few weeks paid vacation, and one has been shifted to an equivalent desk in a different section of State. We should all be so lucky to be fired and defenestrated in such a cavalier and callous manner.

  35. Wick Deer says

    Not to be pedantic, but I don't think the predictions in the Post that the officials would return have actually come true. The officials are still on leave according to interviews Senator Corker gave this week.

  36. Dan says

    But my days of taking you serious politically are certainly coming to a middle.

    Your days of not taking him seriously, you mean.

  37. Trent says

    @Tarraou

    Yes, anyone in power can use the full weight of the federal government to persecute crimes, minor or major against opponents. It happens all the time, the Bush administration was accused of firing DOJ lawyers who weren't running active investigations of democrat politicians in their district. The allegation was made at the time that resources were being diverted from serious crimes to investigate politicians from the party not in charge without allegations of wrong doing. This has been the way the systems worked for more than 50 years. It's not new, it's not different, its just better publicized.

    Regardless of the politics Nakoula is a bad dude. He defrauded a bunch of people and took lots of their money, there were several victims that lost their retirement nest eggs. As a result his probation terms bared him from doing things that could be used to do more of the same. He violated those terms, I have to wonder if he didn't violate other terms and maybe started up his fraud engine again. After all, if he's willing to run down and get a fraudulent drivers license (which violates the terms of his parole) I don't think he's far off from stealing a bunch of peoples retirement money again. He needs to be in jail and he needs even stricter probation terms next time he's out. I have absolutely no sympathy for someone that steals money from old people, particularly when he left them destitute.

  38. Sami says

    Minor quibble of my own: Conflating blasphemy and hate speech laws is a bit unfair, imo.

    I say this as a citizen of a country that has laws about hate speech that are not, in my view, overly censorious, but which don't make an issue of blasphemy, which is not something which should be within the law's purview.

    Basically, in Australia it would be entirely legal to say all sorts of offensive things about God, Jesus or Mohammed that I wouldn't be comfortable coming up with. (Obviously, not without consequence; you'd be a pariah and subject to all sorts of criticism, just not *legal* consequences.)

    However, making a speech blaming everything that's wrong with the world on the Jews, because they're evil and should all be murdered, would be at risk of running afoul of the law.

    I don't think America should adopt our laws regarding freedom of speech, but I also don't think they're that bad.

    (If I was going to pick a category of Australian law that I think America would, if they adopted them, be better off under, it would be our gun laws, on account of all the massacres we don't have any more.)

  39. James Pollock says

    "What bothers me is the idea that anyone who makes an offensive Youtube clip could be by merest chance, be selected to win the "we investigate your life until we find something we can jail you for" sweepstakes."

    Replace that with "If you're doing something you don't want your probation officer to find out about, don't put it on YouTube", and you'll sleep just fine.

    I mean, just look at all the people who said, did, wrote, or distributed something anti-Islam who are now in federal prisons. Given the strong anti-Muslim sentiment in parts of the country, there must be MILLIONS of these political prisoners by now.

    To people who already think President Obama is a Muslim-loving, America-hating, Communist, Chicago-thug, Socialist Fascist AntiChrist, anything he does confirms that opinion. He could adopt Ronald Reagan's second-term agenda in its entirety and they'd complain about THAT.

  40. says

    "As a thought experiment: In the case of a national tragedy, what an administration could do is search the criminal databases for people on parole with links to the opposition party, tell everyone they were involved, have them thrown back into prison, declare victory, and quietly put it out a few months later that they were mistaken about the whole thing, but, you know, that was months ago, so no biggie."

    I think Ken is giving this argument short shrift. I follow and agree with his point that Nakoula does not and should not get a free pass on conduct that would normally get him thrown in the pokey. Let's stipulate that we all agree with this.

    Isn't there nevertheless something frightening about the idea that government might choose to investigate someone because their speech is unpopular — and doesn't the quoted example show why that could be dangerous? Why is the example so ridiculous?? Does Ken think a president's
    political opponents are never singled out for IRS audits? Isn't that a matter for concern no matter what the audits do or do not show?

    Whether such activity falls under the legal doctrine of "selective prosecution" does not address the reaction of the man on the street to a fishy looking investigation, even if (as here) it bears legitimate fruit.

  41. says

    @Patterico:

    Isn't there nevertheless something frightening about the idea that government might choose to investigate someone because their speech is unpopular — and doesn't the quoted example show why that could be dangerous?

    Well said.

    I think that the "three felonies a day" argument is deadly accurate – we are all doing things every single day that could send us to jail, or cost us our house, etc. Not because we're bad people breaking reasonable laws, but because there are so damn many laws. When there's an infinite variety of "crime" on the books, then the State can throw anyone in jail. If we all think it's quite likely that politicians ask bureaucrats for special favors from time to time, then the only thing that's keeping you or me or Ken out of jail is the fact that we haven't yet come to the negative attention of those in power.

  42. James Pollock says

    As long as Rush Limbaugh remains a free man, and his automobile remains unincinerated by drone strike, I shall rest with the knowledge that being an unequivocal opponent of the current occupant of the White House will not be disappeared on trumped-up, fake grounds. I suppose we might need a new belwether should a right-leaner gain the White House, I don't see that happening in the short-term, and I have my doubts into the intermediate term.

  43. says

    @Patterico: I pulled a bunch of cases, and when I have time, perhaps this weekend, I will write a long post explaining the state of the law on investigations and prosecutions targeted based on speech, to respond to you and Ace and Aaron.

  44. Nomadic100 says

    It's "whoever (not "whomever") you want him to be." That grammatical error is about as egregious as Nakoula's using a computer in violation of his parole regulations.

  45. Ed Paul says

    i am a retired management labor lawyer with no experience in criminal law or probation practice. To my Uneducated eye the arrest of Nakoula was an unlikely outcome in light of his offense and was purely political.However, I have a friend who is a retired Federal probation officer who almost gleefully said that on those facts he would have arrested Nakoula as soon as he could get his hands on him. Since this guy's politics are as far right as mine, I assume that the arrest was SOP as far as probation was concerned.

  46. lewy14 says

    Like Patterico said, let's stipulate to Ken's assertions in the post.

    In fact I'll welcome it as "good news" that the government is not being as capricious as I (and others) might otherwise cynically assume.

    Also worth remembering the timeline and the context: while there was no "demonstration" in Benghazi, there was a demonstration in Cairo, and our embassy was (at least superficially) attacked there.

    Why, if the film was "months old and nobody watched it"? Because the video was shown on Egyptian TV, translated into Arabic.

    These facts alone might have been sufficient to uncover Nakoula's identity…

    … or they might not have.

    If the impetus to discover the film-maker's identity came from the Administration, in order to further conflate the attack in Benghazi with the other demonstrations against the film – when said conflation was known from the first nanosecond to be completely bogus – that would be pretty reprehensible and worthy of investigation.

    In other words, if Nakoula's multiple aliases would have remained unconnected but for the Obama administrations express desire to connect Benghazi to the film, deliberately obfuscating the nature of the attack for political reasons – then that's pretty low. At best.

    Sure seems like they aimed to jack up a scapegoat and lucked out that the guy – Nakoula – was actually guilty of something.

    Or, possibly, the media just instinctively knew what to do.

  47. AlphaCentauri says

    I still can't imagine what he was thinking. The trailer is SO bad it's hard to believe it was a serious attempt at making money. But I can't come up with a conspiracy theory that makes sense, either. And posting it on YouTube was like driving 90 miles an hour through a residential zone with "Fuck Muslims" painted on the side of his car, so the cops would be able to recognize the car all the witnesses described even after he got home and parked it out front.

    As far as Benghazi, I'm less cynical than most. I suspect there were concerns about security in a large number of places given the 9/11 anniversary, and security was stretched thin. There are a lot of places where US soldiers are at risk every day because we got involved in multiple wars without committing sufficient troops to do the job in any one of them. Spelling out all the threat intel the State Department had that led to the the decisions they made might lead to worse repercussions than just pretending we didn't anticipate it. It might not be very politically popular to let Americans know how many people want to kill them in how many different places, and how many of those potential assassins come from nations we count as our allies.

  48. says

    Punchy and interesting.

    My main concern is the 'whomever' in the title. It seems wrong.

    I can't quite work out whether it is the linked object of the phrase "you want him to be" (in which case whomever is OK), or the linked subject of the phrase "NBM can be…" In the latter case it should be 'whoever' and that sounds more natural.

    Yours, grammatically challenged in England

  49. markm says

    "But what should the Probation Officer have done?"

    Sent a couple of cops to arrest Nakoula, at a normal time of day, without creating a media circus.

    But the PO should have been paying more attention in the first place. If a convicted fraudster can assume two aliases, collect money from investors, and the PO doesn't notice until he puts a film on You Tube, what are the other probationers getting away with?

  50. Joel Mackey says

    So this guy uploads this movie in JULY. All these things he did to get his probation revoked happened at least 2 months prior to the benghazi attacks.

    No coincidence here, move along, move along.

    But hey, you state, He made a youtube video that made him famous and that extra scrutiny is what caused his transgressions to be discovered! Except he was not in any trouble at all until the Administration falsely blamed his video for the attack in Benghazi.

    Perhaps your dense, so I will repeat the point that Glenn Reynolds made the day after the Sheriffs took Basseley into custody in the middle of the night. Everyone breaks some number of Federal laws each day, if the Feds want you in jail, they can come up with a reason, it just depends on how hard they have to look.

    Exit question, do you think Nakoula Basseley would be in jail today if that video was attacking Jesus Christ? On a scale of 0-10, 10 being metaphysical certainty….

  51. pillsy says

    @Joel Mackey:
    So this guy uploads this movie in JULY. All these things he did to get his probation revoked happened at least 2 months prior to the benghazi attacks.

    No coincidence here, move along, move along.

    But hey, you state, He made a youtube video that made him famous and that extra scrutiny is what caused his transgressions to be discovered!

    The part where he adopted the "Sam Bacile" alias and called the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal to tell a bunch of lies about who funded the movie[1, 2] after the riots started in Egypt was, perhaps, not the smoothest move in the history of smooth moves.

    [1] According to Bacile/Nakoula: the Jews!

    [2] In addition to the lies he told the cast and crew while producing the movie.

  52. Charles R. Williams says

    The authorship of an anti-Islamic video is not a legitimate concern of any government official. Should a federal official inadvertently become aware of that authorship, he should not publicize the author, thus putting his life in danger. It is the official's duty to protect the author's free speech rights.

    How would such an official learn that Nakoula was on probation? What reason would he have to seek that information?

    If the possibility of a probation violation arose in an official's mind, somehow, he should have brought it to the attention of the probation officer and the matter should have been handled as quietly as possible to minimize the risk to Nakoula.

    The judge, in this case, should give some weight to the fact that these probation violations were not connected with criminal activity. They were technical. A year seems excessive and the "perp walk" was totally unnecessary.

    Nakoula is in jail because federal officials decided to punish him for the content of his video.

  53. Roppert says

    "I wonder whether Adam Baldwin would want to #FreeNokoula if the film had been anti-American or anti-Christian?"

    If he had done that, he would have won a Sundance award and currently be feted in Hollywood while being hailed as the new Michael Moore.

  54. Tarrou says

    @ Trent

    "Yes, anyone in power can use the full weight of the federal government to persecute crimes, minor or major against opponents. It happens all the time, the Bush administration was accused of firing DOJ lawyers who weren't running active investigations of democrat politicians in their district."

    I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not speaking with regard to the legal intricacies. This alludes to something I mentioned before. Part of what is concerning about this is that this guy Nakoula was completely outside politics. He's a small time crook with a sideline peddling conspiracies and anti-muslim sentiment. You sign up for politics, you're a target for the opposition. Perhaps it isn't right, but it's understandable and to some degree, acceptable. You sign up to be a cop, you might get shot at, occupational hazard. This is not to say I condone politically motivated prosecution, especially at the expense of more critical crimes, but there you have it. This is the crux of my "sweepstakes" remark. Part of what is so disturbing is that it could have been any random offensive Youtube clip, of which there are hundreds of millions. There's no telling which clip will be publicized as "offensive", and even less which will be used as a scapegoat by POTUS. If you're a X politician, and the other party is in power, you know to keep your nose clean, because everyone is sniffing about. The problem is now that apparently the internet can be trolled for content to strawman for those in power.

  55. Tarrou says

    @AlphaCentauri

    I agree to an extent. I don't understand this cover-up at all. It's clear that there was one, but I don't know why. The idea that the president is somehow morally opposed to calling anything "Terrorism" or acknowledging its existence seems strange to me, but it's the only thing that makes sense of it to me. I just don't see the political downside of the truth for the administration in this case. They've spent six months, and great effort to cover up something that wasn't really their fault to start with, they've blamed random immigrant petty fraudsters. And had they just been forthright, they could have sacked a midlevel manager or two for security failure, made a speech about how we would not let violence and terror dissuade us from our diplomacy, and taken a two-point bounce in the polls for showing strong leadership. It boggles my mind that the president would play to the most ridiculous stereotypes of the most fevered right-wing conspiracists. Especially when it was so unnecessary.

  56. Brian Macker says

    Funny, Obama's Uncle is still in the country. The wheels of justice seem to be biased.

  57. PersonFromPorlock says

    Using a non-political scapegoat to deflect attention from the administration's own responsibility was a direct lie to the American people, regardless of how 'deserving' the scapegoat may have been. On the facts, Basseley should be in jail, but we can still be outraged at the way he got there – not because he was sinned against, but because we were.

  58. Blake says

    Ken, I'm quite sure you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is obviously a political prisoner and his being tossed in jail was due to pressure out of the White House.

    I'd believe otherwise if a couple of cops showed up and quietly hauled Nakoula away. Instead, overwhelming force showed up in the middle of the night and hauled Mr. Nakoula away.

    Actual events do not square with your take, at all.

  59. says

    Which nutjob linked to this post to explain all these commenters? Also, Adam Baldwin is probably the dumbest person on Twitter, with "MelissaTweets" being a close second.

  60. pillsy says

    @Charles R. Williams, Nakoula had a free speech right to make the film, and to post the film on YouTube, and (AIUI) even to tell a bunch of lies to the press about who he was and what his involvement with the film was. But I'm pretty sure nobody has the free speech right to tell lies without being contradicted.

    As for "somehow" figuring out who he was, it might have involved such extreme steps as picking up a newspaper and reading it.

  61. says

    "Innocence Of Muslims" did not come to light in connection with Benghazi, though I believe it's now clear that the Administration falsely claimed it to be connected to Benghazi.

    Rather, it came to light in connection with protests in Egypt and Pakistan more than a week before the Benghazi attack.

    Now, Nakoula's First Amendment rights aside, when mobs are gathering outside American embassies in volatile capitals such as Cairo and Islamabad, complaining of a "blasphemous" Youtube video, does it not behoove our law enforcement and intelligence communities to learn everything they can about the video, including who made it? Would they not be negligent in failing to do so. And if in the course of the investigation, it comes to light that the author is a probationer, in clear violation of his probation (which is the first thing they'd learn after discovering his name), are they to sit on that information?

    Put another way, does anyone believe that if Nakoula had NOT been a convicted fraud artist in clear violation of the terms of his probation, he would be in jail today? Let's say Nakoula was an ordinary citizen, rather than a probationer.

    Does anyone believe that the Justice Department would have charged Nakoula with a crime for making the video? Under what statute?

    BEFORE YOU ANSWER, look up Terry Jones, the Koran-burning preacher of Florida, whose antics have also caused protests in the Middle East. Specifically, look up all crimes with which Jones has been charged by the Justice Department.

  62. says

    It seems to me that the question is whether there is something objectionable about a criminal falsely becoming a political scapegoat. Nakoula violated parole. That's clear enough.

    Nakoula also got his reputation (legitimately tattered though it is) hit by the federal government and his life endangered by being falsely accused as a cause of the Benghazi attacks. At the extreme, the likelihood of some nutball killing Nakoula went up. I'd like to think that this is something we wouldn't be happy about and that the government should be told in no uncertain terms not to ever do this again before people get hurt.

  63. says

    TMLutas, I hate to tell you, but high profile criminal suspects (and Nakoula was high profile) are continually endangered, and embarrassed, by being forced to do the "perp walk" before media who have been alerted to the impending arrest.

    It's a time-honored, and shameful, tradition that goes back at least to the days of J. Edgar Hoover. In this, Nakoula is nothing special. If you'd like to discuss prohibition of "perp walks," and the danger that law enforcement publicity and an overzealous media pose to criminal suspects and others, that's probably not a bad idea. If your concerns are specific to Nakoula only, let's look to a more recent example.

    Does it concern you that Ariel Castro's two brothers, in Cleveland, are now in fear of their lives because their names have been plastered all over the papers, internet, radio, and tv, though neither has been charged with a crime?

  64. says

    @Patrick Non-White • May 10, 2013 @6:44 am
    I'm sorry, but I like Firefly as much as the next guy (just rewatched it and Serenity last week) and was probably one of the ten people to actually watch it when it originally aired, but Adam Baldwin is an idiot.

    Spend ten minutes with him on Twitter and that should be become pretty obvious.

  65. says

    Ah, Mr. Treacher. Yes, I sincerely apologize for failing to reach the consistently high level of substantive discourse you routinely model.

  66. says

    Okay, I might have to reassess my previous statements, I forgot that Treacher is on Twitter.

    You've obviously never written anything questioning whether Ron Paul would make a suitable President. Or hinting that the People's Republic of China may not be an ideal government for the rest of the world to emulate.

    A visit from Jim Treacher is like a visit from Fred Rogers compared to the reaction that stirs up.

  67. says

    You've obviously never written anything questioning whether Ron Paul would make a suitable President.

    I remember when Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward said something along the lines of, "I love Ron Paul, but he will never be president." And the internet reacted with all sorts of insanity, much of it saying Ms. Mangu-Ward should not be trusted, because… well, because she has a funny last name.

  68. says

    The problem is that Nakoula would not have been locked up if not for the video. Federal probation officers don’t bring probationers in for probation violations for issues not directly related to their crime. The film, regardless of what name was used on the credits, was unrelated to his crime.

    Furthermore, Federal probation officers don’t arrest probationers at night, much less at midnight, much less have the local sheriff’s office arrest a probationer unless the probationer is a particularly violent criminal that must be immeditately arrested. There was no need for his immediate arrest.

    The proper proceedure would have been for the probation officer to call or mail the probationer with an appointment in his office.

    In any event, federal probation officers usually use Deputy U.S. Marshals for any arrest, especially in a large urban area like Los Angeles. The USMS could have easily arrested him the next day or at the probation office when he appeared to be interviewed about violations of his probation.

    There was nothing usual about the arrest of Nakoula. It was all politics from the start. No other federal probationer would have been treated like this for a minor violation of his conditions.

    But the most telling point is in how many probation revocation cases did the probation officer not first call or visit the subject? Since when did Federal probation officers work at night? Since when did they request a local sheriff's office to make an arrest when Deputy US Marshals are readily available?

    In any real case not associated with insulting Muslim terrorists, something Barak Hussein Obama specifically objects to, not only would the U.S. Office of Probation and Pre-Trial Services put it in the list of things to do, it would not have been at the front of the to-do list of the day. Given their workload, it would have been quite a long time before they got to it. But coming in to work at midnight, asking a sheriff's office to make an immediate arrest, such speed is inconsistent with the agency, its priorities, and its staffing.

  69. Walter Rego says

    Mommy says that I can use the internet to watch cartoons and play Angry Birds.

  70. says

    @Federale:

    Federal probation officers don’t bring probationers in for probation violations for issues not directly related to their crime. The film, regardless of what name was used on the credits, was unrelated to his crime.

    That doesn't make any sense. Federal judges sentence defendants to terms of supervised release with specified conditions. If the defendant breaks any of those conditions, they are subject to a violation petition. A violation doesn't have to be "directly related to their crime," it only has to be a violation of a term. For instance, someone sentenced for fraud can violate supervised release by using drugs.

    Furthermore, Federal probation officers don’t arrest probationers at night, much less at midnight, much less have the local sheriff’s office arrest a probationer unless the probationer is a particularly violent criminal that must be immeditately arrested. There was no need for his immediate arrest.

    Actually, people on supervised release are arrested rather than summonsed all the time. As for the "midnight arrest," the guy was released (to an undisclosed location, to protect him) immediately after a very short interview, which is not particularly consistent with the claims that it was an arrest, and more consistent with the claims that he arranged to make a statement to probation and they arranged for cops to pick him up. (When the Probation Officer got a warrant for him, THAT was an arrest, clearly.)

    In any event, federal probation officers usually use Deputy U.S. Marshals for any arrest, especially in a large urban area like Los Angeles. The USMS could have easily arrested him the next day or at the probation office when he appeared to be interviewed about violations of his probation.

    Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, at least in Los Angeles.

    No other federal probationer would have been treated like this for a minor violation of his conditions.

    I understand you are making this assertion. What's your basis for it? How many supervised release revocations have you handled, or observed?

    But the most telling point is in how many probation revocation cases did the probation officer not first call or visit the subject?

    In my experience, routinely.

    Since when did Federal probation officers work at night?

    Not routinely, but occasionally, particularly when supervisees have jobs or other commitments that make it difficult for them to meet during the day.

    Since when did they request a local sheriff's office to make an arrest when Deputy US Marshals are readily available?

    At least in LA, Probation Officers do, on occasion, request local law enforcement assistance. There are a lot fewer federal marshals.

    In any real case not associated with insulting Muslim terrorists, something Barak Hussein Obama specifically objects to, not only would the U.S. Office of Probation and Pre-Trial Services put it in the list of things to do, it would not have been at the front of the to-do list of the day. Given their workload, it would have been quite a long time before they got to it.

    I ask again: on what are you basing these factual pronouncements? what experience? What law? What source?

  71. htom says

    I was looking for the source of a quote, and found it was a British judge, Lord Chief Justice Hewart, in R v Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy ([1924] 1 KB 256, [1923] All ER Rep 233) Really, I found it on Wikipedia. … , a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. … Nakoula will have to be let go because it appears that the administration might have used political power to have him arrested. Whether or not they did, or tried to, competently or not, we will never know. Hanlon's razor probably applies.

  72. naught_for_naught says

    @Jim Treacher

    What are you, 10? We would expect more from an organ grinder's monkey. Step it up, will you?

  73. James Pollock says

    Ken, I think you're arguing with someone who, like Clint Eastwood, actually saw someone in that chair.

  74. SVT says

    In other words – forget about about whether the matter was handled in accordance with the law – we put a bad guy in jail.

    Despicable.

  75. Dictatortot says

    htom's touching on the part that interests me. On the one hand, I buy Ken's explanation of why Nakoula's treatment is par for the course, consistent with the ordinary functioning of the legal system. However, in this case the Administration has several possible interests and motivations that end up making "the ordinary functioning of the legal system" look way too convenient by half.

    Yes, we've got some knaves and doofuses who are probably making way too much hay out of this … but you don't have to be blindly partisan to dislike the way this ends up looking. Or to wonder exactly how much benefit of doubt the Administration has earned here.

  76. says

    There are multiple issues.

    Issue one: was Nakoula treated more harshly by the Probation Office and the court than other supervisees who have committed similar acts? No. He wasn't.

    Issue two: was Nakoula only detected by the Probation Office because someone in the Obama Administration (1) dropped a dime on him, or (2) urged Probation to violate him, or (3) accused him publicly of responsibility for Benghazi? Maybe.

    Issue three: what are the legal ramifications if the government only investigated someone because of their protected speech, and in doing so detected a crime? That's a legal question, one that some of the critics are simply getting wrong. I'll write a separate post about it.

    Issue four: what are the moral and civic and political ramifications if 3, above, is true? That's a separate question. There should be substantial consequences.

  77. Steve57 says

    Ken,

    I agree with the fact the probation officer and the judge acted properly.

    Here's my problem with what happened.

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/director-of-offending-film-swathed-in-mystery/article3893576.ece

    "The Associated Press in particular said it had received information from an anonymous law enforcement official that a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was behind the offending film."

    The press didn't find him on their own. Somebody in law enforcement painted a target on this guy's back before they ever established a parole violation. As Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has pointed out numerous times the administration was vowing to find and punish this guy before they even knew who he was.

    I somehow doubt the law enforcement official was state or local. I also doubt the leak wasn't authorized. First someone made this guy famous for being the man behind the behind a video they blamed for violence all across the Muslim world. Then they looked to see if there was anything they could imprison him for.

    Obviously I suspect the administration was behind this. And the administration could do that to anybody, even if they didn't succeed in finding anything to prosecute during step two.

  78. Dictatortot says

    Charles Crawford: here, "whomever" does indeed function as the predicate of the phrase "you want him to be." However, in formal English grammar, both subject and predicate of the copular verb "to be" take the nominative–"it is I," "we are they," etc. Therefore, "whoever" would be the right choice here–this is one time that the predicate does not equal the object.

  79. htom says

    @Ken — lest there be any doubt, I think Nakoula needs to be back in prison, the path he was following by his own choice doomed him to that.

  80. Joel Mackey says

    The Cairo protests/attacks happened on the same day as the Benghazi attacks. If this is indicative of your grasp of the facts, you should probably go read some recent history before spouting some opinion or, heaven forbid, vote.

    I am sorry, but i do not think that a guy living in L.A. California changing his name is exactly an evil act, was he changing his name to use fake identities to write hot checks? Or was he changing his name because he knew that the film he was making was going to make him a target to fundamentalist muslims?
    The judge invoked the fact that he was a danger to his community due to making the film, as a reason to put him back in jail. Not because he was likely to brandish a weapon and start attacking people, but because he had enraged the barbarians, and in their zeal to eradicate an uppity coptic, they might cause collateral damage and hurt one of his neighbors, therefore he must be put in jail.
    I am sorry, but I do not agree that a bad man was put in jail, certainly no worse a man than John Corzine.

  81. says

    I am sorry, but i do not think that a guy living in L.A. California changing his name is exactly an evil act, was he changing his name to use fake identities to write hot checks? Or was he changing his name because he knew that the film he was making was going to make him a target to fundamentalist muslims?

    Joel, his underlying offense was bank fraud, using aliases, with a loss of more than $700,000. One of his terms of supervised release was not to use false identities. He got a driver's license in a false name. That will get any federal felon's supervised release revoked. You can choose not to believe that because it doesn't fit your narrative, but there it is.

    Also, with respect to what sort of person it is, consider this: it was indeed prudent for him to use a false name distributing the video, considering the violent tendencies of some Islamic extremists. But he put the real names of cast and crew on the video. In some interviews he claimed that it was financed by Israel, which it was not. And at least some of the cast and crew claim the anti-Islamic part was dubbed in — that they didn't know what it would be. Determine for yourself what kind of man he is.

  82. says

    Re Congressional hearings – somebody (I forget who) once said that there are three reasons for Congressional hearings.
    1. To get Congressmen on television
    2. To get Congressmen on television
    3. To get Congressmen on television

    Having sat through a number of painful examples of congressmen bloviating, bullshitting, posing, posturing and generally behaving like narcissistic, attention-whoring wankers, I have to concur with this viewpoint, and I will remain profoundly skeptical that anything useful and/or truthful will emerge from the Benghazi hearings. These hearings are usually convened for one of two purposes (a) to pick on a bunch of people who have been (for the time being) declared to be Bad Guys, who therefore need to be excoriated in public, or (b) to score political points against the minority party in the House.

  83. says

    The Cairo protests/attacks happened on the same day as the Benghazi attacks. If this is indicative of your grasp of the facts, you should probably go read some recent history before spouting some opinion or, heaven forbid, vote.

    The first Cairo protests began on September 9, following a denunciation of the film on Egyptian television.

    You fucking moron.

  84. says

    Charles Crawford: here, "whomever" does indeed function as the predicate of the phrase "you want him to be." However, in formal English grammar, both subject and predicate of the copular verb "to be" take the nominative–"it is I," "we are they," etc. Therefore, "whoever" would be the right choice here–this is one time that the predicate does not equal the object.

    In "formal English grammar", we call neither the object of a preposition nor the direct object of a verb nor the infinitive "a predicate". Rather, the verbal phrase including verb, objects and modifiers is a predicate (and per Frege, the whole think represents a concept).

    That said, @Dictatortot is right that in cases where a term may be construed either as nominative or objective, the former takes precedence in formal English. So "I'll vote for whoever promises to bring pizza" is right and "I'll vote for whomever promises to bring pizza" is wrong. Because of the special case-retaining quality of the English copula, the subjective form in "can be whoever you want" is likewise "correct".

    However, formal English is no longer particularly normative even in formal circles, and idiomatic English has long since absorbed the concept of disjunctive pronouns. (For example, only a prig or an arch-villain would insist on "It is I" rather than "It's me". The latter is analogous to the French "c'est moi", a disjunctive pronominal form.)

    For this reason, insisting pedantically (which neither Mr. Crawford nor Dictatortot did, to their credit) on nominative-retention along the lines of "it is I" to correct "can be whomever you want" into "can be whoever you want" doesn't display linguistic sensitivity; it displays a tin ear and possibly a wooden approach toward the dynamics of grammar.

    tl;dr: If "it is I" prevails, then "can be whoever" prevails; but if "it is me" is idiomatic, then "can be whomever" is likewise tolerable. "It's me" is idiomatic. Therefore, "can be whomever" is tolerable.

    But "different than" will never, ever, ever be correct!

    Thanks, Obama.

  85. says

    Jim Treacher, we don't have a quarrel with you. I sent you a get-well email when I learned about the atrocity that followed your accident (sorry, not revealing my real name, just as you don't).

    You've been a boor here. I understand that's part of your act. I assume you've been quarreling with the guy who mostly uses our Twitter account, on Twitter. Fine. Keep it there please.

    With due respect, while I enjoy your acerbic wit when it's on, you don't know anything about federal parole revocation. This hasn't been your best hour, says the guy who just banned another commenter after calling him a fucking moron.

    I'd hope, being a respected opinion writer for a major conservative website, that you'd actually enjoy learning about the ins and outs of federal probation revocation proceedings. Who knows? Perhaps some day a Democrat or other leftist, maybe someone in Bill Ayers' circle, will have his or her probation revoked by a government led by a Republican President. When that day comes, and the lefties are crying CONSPIRACY!, you'll want to crib from what you read here.

    Because the person who wrote this post knows what he's talking about.

  86. says

    I sure hope this newly discovered conservative desire for mercy in the criminal justice system will extend to non-violent drug offenders.

  87. Steve57 says

    Patrick Non-White,

    Not even the Cairo protest was over the video. The groups that organized the protest issued press statements declaring what the protest was about; gaining the release of detainees in the US and GITMO, especially the "blind sheikh" Abdel Rahman. English translations were available on the web prior to 9/11/2012.

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2012/09/10/jihadis-threaten-to-burn-u-s-embassy-in-cairo/

    They issued the press statements to get the press interested in the protest. It worked CNN's Nic Robertson interviewed one of the organizers, AQ leader Ayman al Zawahiri's brother Muhammad, in front of the US embassy in Cairo on the morning of the day it turned violent. You can see the banners with the blind sheikh's picture on it. He tells Robertson exactly what the protest is about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPszLCEyu-I

    The day after the violence he was still publicly available bragging about his key role in organizing the protest. It wasn't over the video.

  88. AlphaCentauri says

    Someone claiming to have organized a mass protest isn't always a reliable source, and being interviewed by CNN doesn't make him one. People promoting unpopular/unexciting causes love to show up at rallies for other causes displaying their signs and hoping to get photographed among the thousands of people that showed up for another reason. Many political organizations try to control the signs at their rallies to avoid their message being hijacked.

  89. srp says

    First, I agree with Ken that this guy should be locked up for his violations. Second, it's obvious that this guy was used in an Administration disinformation effort where he was targeted for the video before his identity was known. But I do not agree that as a rule elected and appointed Administration political officials should have no role in selecting targets for prosecution. I understand the general concern with political abuse of prosecutorial powers, but I also know that the president is ultimately responsible for seeing that the laws are faithfully executed. Delegation of that authority to others is a managerial, not constitutional imperative. We should not allow presidents to weasel out of responsibility for bad prosecutions or for bad non-prosecutions by fobbing responsibility off on inferior officials, especially career civil servants against whom the public has little recourse.

  90. Sami says

    Not to undercut the motif of how they're clearly just evil for some unspecified reason, but: Couldn't it be possible, just possible, that the reason for misinformation about the Benghazi embassy and attacks could be connected to the fact that there were CIA operations there?

    Since we know, thanks to a couple of Republican congressman who really should have shut up about this entire topic since, that there were some significant CIA installations there, it seems plausible, even probable, that it's a coverup of CIA activity. Which means it may well be evil, but it will be CIA evil, and *probably* evil aimed at protecting American national security.

  91. Esteban says

    Wasn't our esteemed Secretary of State calling for the film maker to be jailed before she even knew who it was? She's more of a turd than Nakoula ever will be.

  92. miguel cervantes says

    That's entirely possible, my pet theory is they were trying to stem the tide of weapons to the Syrian rebels, hence the Administration wasn't keen on someone saving them.

  93. Dictatortot says

    Well put, David. I'd only take issue with the following:

    If "it is I" prevails, then "can be whoever" prevails; but if "it is me" is idiomatic, then "can be whomever" is likewise tolerable. "It's me" is idiomatic. Therefore, "can be whomever" is tolerable.

    Being a feeling, warm-blooded human capable of interacting with his fellow man, I naturally never resort to Grundyisms such as "it is I." As David correctly points out, even among educated speakers English has effectively evolved a set of disjunctive pronouns comparable to the French moi, toi, etc. Nonetheless, I contend that even though many disjunctive pronouns–me, him, etc.–are identical to the object case, the disjunctive form of "who"/"whoever" coincides with the subjective (nominative) case. If "You're whom?" is wrong, so is the page title.

  94. Timb says

    Perhaps your dense, so I will repeat the point that Glenn Reynolds made the day after the Sheriffs took Basseley into custody in the middle of the night. Everyone breaks some number of Federal laws each day

    I can't believe I'm reading a site where two different commenter speak Glenn Reynolds like he's an authority, but the tenor of this comment makes me nervous than ever about the Far Right. I can pretty much assure you that I commit no Federal crimes on a daily basis. I question what crimes the morally retarded, but extremely boring, Reynolds commits either.

  95. James Pollock says

    srp says:
    "But I do not agree that as a rule elected and appointed Administration political officials should have no role in selecting targets for prosecution."
    The catch being that, unless I'm misinformed, the probation office is under the judicial branch, not the executive, so probation violations are not "prosecutions".
    Personally, I don't object to the President (or those officers serving under him) bringing notice of violations to the probation office until there's evidence of pressure to revoke someone who otherwise would not be. If the person did the violation and the violation would normally lead to revocation, I don't care if bringing it up is or was politically motivated (and that goes either way… the party in power turning in a critic, or the party out of power turning in an administration official.)

    Esteban says:
    "Wasn't our esteemed Secretary of State calling for the film maker to be jailed before she even knew who it was? She's more of a turd than Nakoula ever will be."
    Our esteemed Secretary of State is named "John", although this has no bearing on his turdness ratio vis-a-vis Nakoula.

  96. Steve57 says

    AlphaCentauri,

    But getting mentioned by Hillary Clinton's state department gives you credibility? Explain to me how this works.

  97. Steve57 says

    AlphaCentauri • May 10, 2013 @5:27 pm

    You do realize that you've said nothing meaningful, don't you?

  98. says

    Steve57:

    Thank you for keeping this post free of meaningless discussion. We were considering adding you to our writing and moderation team, but this cements it.

  99. Tarrou says

    A thanks to Ken for the response, and to Clark and Patterico for helping clarify my admittedly awkward points. I look forward to debating the longer treatment Ken has alluded to.

    :Insert nerdy dick joke to break the strange politeness:

  100. Steve57 says

    Thanks, Patrick Non-White!

    I am curious, though. How many press statements does Islamic Jihad or al Gama'a al Islamiyya have to release for you to disbelieve the administration spin?

    The first hint, I thought, was when WH spokeshole Jay Carney announced with absolute certainty almost immediately that the violence in Benghazi was over a video and had nothing at all to do with the administration and its policies. Then Clinton announced over the coffins that that the violence was due to a video and stressed they (the US government) had nothing to do with it.

    Which of course meant that the violence had nothing to do with a video and everything to do with Obama administration policies.

    At what point do you believe your own eyes, and stop believing the government when they tell you your eyes are lying to you?

  101. miguel cervantes says

    Or intercepts of AQIM official Belmokhtar, communicating with Ansar Al Sharia operatives on the ground,

  102. says

    Steve57:

    The topic of this post is Nakoula, and whether his parole revocation (for violating conditions of parole) was proper.

    What press releases have Islamic Jihad and al Gama'a al Islamiyya given about Nakoula?

    And what makes you believe that I accept the administration's spin that the attacks in Benghazi were related to the movie?

    Can you not read?

    I believe it's now clear that the Administration falsely claimed it [Innocence of Muslims] to be connected to Benghazi.

    When arguing with strangers on the internet, it's unwise to presume too much. You're not a regular reader at this site. You know very little about us.

    I in turn know very little about you, but I know enough.

  103. Steve57 says

    Well, Patrick, you've certainly put me in my place. I somehow missed some of your comments.

    I am all broken up about that.

    But I don't want to misrepresent your position.So if you care to, please explain how this administration could say through its mouthpiece Jay Carney how reality doesn't matter.

  104. James Ewell Brown Stuart says

    @Sami. et al: There are allegations on some ultra-conservative websites to the effect that the late ambassador was instrumental in covertly supplying weapons to AQ vis-a-vis the Syrian conflict, and that the attack was planned and executed by certain spooks (with Administration approval & encouragement) in order to assure his eternal silence in the matter. I have no proof of these allegations, but it would seem to indicate a very good (tho' nefarious) motive for the attempted coverup of anything and everything of substance in this sordid affair.

    OTOH, I agree with Ken that "our boy" was righteously popped for his own misdeeds, even if he had been outed by a high (drugs not withstanding) party hack/flack/flunky, etc.

  105. DeeplyRooted says

    @Patterico, May 9 6 PM: "Does Ken think a president's political opponents are never singled out for IRS audits? Isn't that a matter for concern no matter what the audits do or do not show?"

    Was your comment random and prescient, or did this story break earlier than I thought?

    It absolutely should be a cause for concern.

    Which doesn't, of course, invalidate anything Ken has said about this particular clown needing to being jailed for other reasons.

  106. says

    "Was your comment random and prescient, or did this story break earlier than I thought?"

    Random and prescient, believe it or not.

  107. James Pollock says

    Pfft. If you name your group after a historical group known for illegally evading taxes, you kind of have to expect the taxing agencies to look over your filings VERY CAREFULLY.
    Kind of the same way the BATF should look over the firearms dealer applications of the "Columbine High School Shooting Club, Sandy Hook Chapter".

  108. AlphaCentauri says

    From what I understand, they were nonprofit organizations. If your nonprofit is named after a grassroots political movement composed largely of people with little previous experience in politics, there's some reason to think you might have some problems keeping the political and the nonpolitical expenditures separated for tax purposes. It's not so much a question of whether Tea Party organizations should not have been audited as it is a question of whether religious organizations that are using their influence over their members to influence politics ought to be audited more.

  109. Cat says

    Ken, reading through all the comments, I can only note one thing specifically.

    Regardless of political motivations, all Federal government employees are required to swear an oath that requires them to report violations of law (Federal and state, actually) to the authorities. If, in the conduct of any investigation into the film for any reason, a Federal employee comes across an illegal act (violation of release, for example) they must inform a competent authority. The only exception that I am aware of applies to the United States Census Bureau, because otherwise no one would let them in the house. (And most are still disinclined to do so, anyways.) Possibly there are other niches (such as client privilege) which would apply.
    (Now, I'm not going to say that Federal employees don't ignore this, particularly for things like "my neighbor is stealing cable", etc. I also will not assume that any competent authority actually does exist in the majority of the Federal government.)
    Source? I've sworn that oath, and seen it actually used by others when required as an act of integrity and conscience. (Two things sorely lacking in anyone running for high office these days, regardless of party.)

  110. Tarrou says

    Cat, question on the oath thing, I remember my oath of enlistment pretty well, and I don't recall anything about reporting crimes, unless that was implied under "follow the UCMJ". Is the military an exception as you understand it?

    Taking your point though, it really does feed into my earlier comment, which is that many officers of the law can simply be doing their job and duty, yet the results can still be oppressive, especially with a legal code as dense and subjective as ours. Stipulating as before that the officers in Nakoula's case probably acted completely within the law and the requirements of their position, you yourself note the human limitations of this, regarding cable. An oath is an oath, and if we want the defense of the arrest of Nakoula to be "the officers had no choice, they swore an oath", well then, they should also have no choice but to report every speeder they see. Every illegal U-turn, every skeevy cable box, every rude employee (for violating the Consumer's Bill of Rights). Hell, if people actually took that oath seriously, and if federal employees knew the laws only as well as a internet libertarian like me, the entire nation would be pending trial within a few weeks. I'm going to assume this outcome was not your point. Officers of the government can and should exercise some common sense when asked to precisely enforce such a massive and stupid pile of laws. But that is part of the problem, that every one of us is a free man or woman only because the federal government is not bothering to prosecute us, or our misdeeds were unobserved by the authorities.

  111. Tarrou says

    I'd like to posthumously title my last posting in response to Cat "Why Lawful Good isn't a viable alignment IRL".

  112. says

    This guy deserves to be in jail. He was convicted of bank fraud and on supervised release had fake IDs and was masking financial transactions. It's really simple. Had the guy committed his crimes with violence rather than a computer, I doubt he'd be referred to as a political prisoner.

  113. James Pollock says

    Chris, I think you underestimate the reality-distorting power of the "Anything Obama Does Is Wrong" lens that some people view the world through. It works like this: Obama is secretly a Muslim. Therefore, he automatically supports all Muslims against all Christians. Therefore he uses the full power of the U.S. government against anyone who says anything critical of Islam. Therefore Nakoula is a political prisoner. Note that there is no reference to reality anywhere in that chain. Obama has never been seen to observe any Muslim ritual practice (such as praying towards Mecca) and HAS been see violating Muslim dietary laws (see, for example, the famous "beer summit")… which only proves how good he is at hiding his Muslimicity.

  114. Tarrou says

    Chris, you miss the point, and rather badly at that. Several of us taking the "pro" Nakoula side are stipulating that he violated his parole and sending him back to jail is not the problematic part of all this. The point is that the violation was discovered as a result of a severely f-ed up process. We all accept that evidence discovered as a result of rights violations is not admissible against people, even when they "really deserve it". Now, I'm drawing an analog here, not comparing directly, because parole revocation is not the same as criminal proceedings, and nothing done was to my knowledge illegal, just severely morally questionable. The argument I and others (I believe) are making is that the evidence that jailed Nakoula is the result of a politically tainted process.

    James, strawman trolling, 1/10. Unless, of course, you're strawmanning was of a very stupid liberal, in which case the bonus points for subtlety bring you up to a 3/10. Must try harder.

  115. naught_for_naught says

    @Tarrou

    Chris, you miss the point

    OK, I'm listening.

    Several of us taking the "pro" Nakoula side are stipulating that he violated his parole and sending him back to jail is not the problematic part of all this.

    Right, Nakoula violated parole and is in jail as a result…

    …nothing done was to my knowledge illegal, just severely morally questionable, just severely morally questionable….[T]he evidence that jailed Nakoula is the result of a politically tainted process.

    I agree. I read the piece too, and Ken has convinced me that the government did nothing illegal. The guys in jail because of his actions.

    I just don't think you have a case here with the argument that "hey we're all dirty, and this is really nothing more than the capricious act of a too-big government singling this guy out in order to avoid blame for Benghazi."

    First, it has already been established above that this was not an act of selective prosecution, so there's really nothing there as far as I can see. Second, regarding the scape-goating argument, I don't see any proof of that either. In the hours after the attack, the government was right to consider all the options. Speculating that the attack was in response to this video is reasonable option to consider, even if it is shown later to not have been the cause.

    Regarding Chris being a "stupid liberal," that's not only out of bounds it's without merit. Most of what Chris wrote is repeated in your won post, with the exception of his argument that Nakoula is being afforded special consideration because he's a white collar criminal and not a "real" criminal. In my opinion, that's a pretty defensible argument.

    By the way, has anyone started a pool on when Jeffery Skilling will get out of prison?

  116. James Pollock says

    Tarrou, not a straw man, but sadly, terrifyingly real and observed in the wild.

  117. James Pollock says

    P.S. – I don't doubt that there were people looking through just as distorted a lens looking at W or Cheney between 2001 and 2009. And Clinton before that… although there was some entertainment briefly during the run-up to the last election as people engaged their highly selective vision to say that Gingrich was an OK guy who had an unfortunate tendency to extramarital sex, while Clinton was an absolute moral degenerate because he had extramarital sex.

  118. Tarrou says

    @ naught

    I'm sorry if my sentence construction made it unclear, but the tag "James" at the start of the second paragraph was meant to switch the focus from the response to Chris to a response to James Pollock, whose post I still can't decide who it is more insulting to, these mythical islamophobe conspiracy nuts, or the people who think anyone who disagrees with them is one of the aforesaid nuts.

  119. naught_for_naught says

    @Tarrou

    This is the sentence that I keyed in on: "Unless, of course, you're strawmanning was of a very stupid liberal."

    I'm glad I misread it, but it's not clear who the "stupid liberal" is — there are many to choose from, I know. In nice little lexical twist, you take the noun, strawman, and reform it as a gerund. You then imbue it with transitive properties — someone is being strawmaned, very nice. Except it's unclear who is the who that is being strawmaned.

    My first thought is that it would be the subject of the strawman argument itself. In this case it would be this generalized other, the collective that see the world through James Pollock's "Anything Obama Does Is Wrong" lens. But those would not be liberals, so I let that go.

    The next option is the person to who the strawman argument is addressed. That would be Chris in this case, which is where my confusion arose.

    I realize now that the statement was meant to be ironic, telling James that the only way his argument could suck less would be if it actually sucked more. That's actually pretty crafty.

  120. princessartemis says

    James, strawmen are real, too. They are, as the name suggests, made of straw. Just because they are real doesn't make an argument invoking them any less a strawman fallacy. Or maybe a non sequitor in this case? Chris surely underestimates the reality distorting power of bunnies with pancakes on their heads. Neither they or these very strange people you have seen in the wild have anything to do with the issue at hand.

  121. James Pollock says

    Princess Artemis, you've wandered off into left field and I've no idea what you are debating.

    Tarrou, while you doubt the existence of "mythical" Islamophobe conspiracy nuts, why don't you look up the polling data on what Americans believe Mr. Obama's true faith to be. (Somewhere between 15 and 20% say "Muslim", but that number's twice as high amongst folks who self-identify as "conservatives".)
    Of course, not all who hold that assumption also continue all the way down the path of faulty reasoning, but way too many do, and to argue that they're "mythical" is wishful thinking of the highest order. It's comparable to arguing that there are no "9/11 was an inside job by the CIA" conspiracy theorists because that would be a really stupid thing to believe.

    So, returning to the root of this particular thread, if this guy had been on probation because he used a gun instead of a computer, there are STILL a substantial number of people who would call him a "political prisoner" because they see this matter through the distorted lens of politics.

    (My own best guess, not based on knowledge, is that the "coverup" is largely the product of obscuring the origin of information because it came from an inside source or a surveillance method that the Obama administration doesn't want to reveal, and not due to anything about the information itself.)

  122. Tarrou says

    @ naught

    Dat feel when you see your own misspellings (in this case, "you're" instead of "your") quoted by someone else. >.<

    @ James Pollock

    Well done, you've established beyond a reasonable internet doubt that there are people in the world nutty enough to believe that Obama is a muslim. It still doesn't come close to establishing that those of us in this thread raising issues with the Nakoula jailing are motivated by that worldview. Hence, it is a strawman. If anyone in this thread raised the specter of the president's religion being the driving force in this situation, I haven't read it, so I'm wondering where you did. You've invented a motivation for people who have given no indication of it, and having invented said motivation, proceeded to slander…..someone or multiple someones with it. Your post was a little unclear who exactly you are attempting to paint as a nutter, but it was quite clear that you think someone (everyone?) who disagrees with you is is stark raving crazy, and so you did not feel the need to engage in any substantive debate. It's trolling, and not particularly well done trolling at that. As I said before, the most generous reading I could come up with was that you were attempting a plausible yet subtle critique of the sort of people who only insult their opponents rather than engage them in good faith. I doubted my own generosity at the time, and your responses have born those doubts out.

    No, Mr. Pollock, I don't think the president is a muslim, and if I did, it still wouldn't have any impact on my opinion of his administration generally, or in this situation specifically. It's simply not germane to the discussion. You are the only one to bring it up that I've seen here.

    This should not be taken to mean I think that you will be amenable to correction in this error, I'm just bored and hoping that others reading this will note your complete and total lack of a figurative leg on which to stand.

  123. princessartemis says

    James, I followed you into left field. It seems to be your favorite place to go, at which point you pretend the debate was always as far off in the tall grass as you have driven it. Which is why I tend to very much dislike engaging you, as it really can be quite frustrating to talk to someone with your style of arguing. I mean, look, you've got the subject where you want it now–because of your strawman comment to Chris, people are discussing whether or not people with strange beliefs are real, rather than discussing anything to do with Nakoula. Not sure why I bother, it's a bit like getting sucked into a developing comment-trainwreck.

  124. James Pollock says

    "It still doesn't come close to establishing that those of us in this thread raising issues with the Nakoula jailing are motivated by that worldview."
    I, um, never made that assertion, don't make it now, and had no intentions of asserting that in the future. I said that there exist people who would consider Mr. Nakoula a "political prisoner" even if he'd robbed a bank with a gun rather than a computer, because their view of reality is too distorted by politics and antipathy towards Mr. Obama. I continue to hold that view.

    "Your post was a little unclear who exactly you are attempting to paint as a nutter"
    The, um, "nutters", as you put it. I'm sorry you (apparently) recognized yourself amongst them; this was not intended.

    "but it was quite clear that you think someone (everyone?) who disagrees with you is is stark raving crazy"
    You MIGHT be projecting here, and hearing accusations that aren't there. Wait. You're DEFINITELY hearing accusations that aren't there. Why is that? You've gone wildly defensive over a post that makes no reference to you.

    "No, Mr. Pollock, I don't think the president is a muslim, and if I did, it still wouldn't have any impact on my opinion of his administration generally, or in this situation specifically."
    Who gives a shit? How, exactly, is your position vis-a-vis the President's religion, or policy, relevant to a discussion about other people?

  125. James Pollock says

    "I mean, look, you've got the subject where you want it now–because of your strawman comment to Chris, people are discussing whether or not people with strange beliefs are real, rather than discussing anything to do with Nakoula."

    I don't think you know what a straw man argument is (starting with your assertion that "straw men are real" and continuing on to your maintaining that I'm using one.
    A straw man argument is NOT real. It is a substitution of a false line of argument for the real one made by an opponent, because the straw man argument is easier to defeat. I haven't done this.

    I responded to Chris' assertion that had Mr. Nakoula done his original crimes with violence rather than with a computer, nobody would call him a "political prisoner". I countered this by suggest that there DO exist people who would still call him a "political prisoner". (Changing the fact pattern only changes the result for people who are interested in the facts!) I certainly didn't strawman Chris's argument.
    As for "where I want the argument now", WTF? You're suggesting I planned for someone else, someone not even addressed or referred to, to wildly over-react? I must be smarter than I thought if I'm that clever.

  126. James Pollock says

    How about trying to get back on track.

    As I understand it, the non-"nutter" objection to Mr. Nakoula's apprehension and detention is not that there was anything "illegal" about it, but rather that the government had no business attempting to identify the creator of the film because it was free speech, protected by the first amendment, and therefore the government should never have identified Mr. Nakoula, and thereby discovered his transgressions.

    I disagree with that core assumption, and here's why:
    I think the government, although it has no authority to repress speech, does have authority to address it. Given an exercise of free speech, the government may make an entirely different speech in which it agrees with, or disagrees with, the original speech.

    Now, assuming that this film came to the attention of senior administration officials because it was being featured and criticized overseas, the state department should make a statement referring to the film, stating (correctly) that while American freedom allows individuals to make hateful statements; those statements do not represent the opinions of the American government and the American people as a whole. I don't claim that they should do this for each and every incident of speech that offends foreigners (they'd never have time for anything else) but it's reasonable to respond to some of them.

    OK, so the state department is going to make a statement about the video. How does that get us to "and it's OK for them to identify the author"? I have two distinct pathways. First, they would want to identify the author to make sure they they aren't, in some way, associated with the government, whether as Deputy Exective Undersecretary of Nothing Much, or as a reserve sheriff's deputy in Desertville, Nevada, nor anywhere in between, because disavowing the message of the video would be undercut if the person who created and distributed it IS, in fact, in the government.
    Second, if you don't know who the creator actually is, there's a possibility that they aren't even an American, which makes the state department's disavowal much more powerful… so there's a good reason to discover the identity of the author to see if they're not an American. (Obviously, neither of these is effective if they DO know who the author is, at the beginning, but then there's also no complaint that they've done something wrong in determining the identity of the author because they already knew.)

  127. George William Herbert says

    I think it would be useful to know what the Executive Branch did to figure out who was behind the film.

    If they asked around and someone outed him, that's one thing; someone else would have asked the right question shortly. If they used Google, there is no dog in the hunt, period.

    If they popped open an internal anti-terrorism communications intercept program, or a legal wiretap against Mr. Nakoula put in place after his conviction and parole, that would seem slightly different, in different ways.

    The implicit assumption that some sort of abuse of power happened that led the White House to know is not safely assumable. It could be what happened, however.

    I do not recall any serious questions into that, in the press. Pretty much a "there he is" and nobody asked why.

    For those who have friends in the press, it would be of use to ask the appropriate Executive Branch persons. If it's an easy obvious answer and no abuse was involved they will probably say so, and be able to independently verify how it was done.

  128. AlphaCentauri says

    My impression was that everyone was climbing over each other to be the first to identify the filmmaker, using his own statements and those of the actors. Before Nakoula's real name was confirmed, several bloggers and reporters were digging up the details independently. Maybe the administration was in on it too, but their help wasn't really needed. The guy has seriously pissed off the people he initially defrauded, the entire Muslim world, the parole office who didn't know about the fake IDs, the actors in the movie, and the state department. It's not like any of them would need a prod from Obama to go after him.

  129. Shannon S says

    when mobs are gathering outside American embassies in volatile capitals such as Cairo and Islamabad, complaining of a "blasphemous" Youtube video, does it not behoove our law enforcement and intelligence communities to learn everything they can about the video, including who made it?

    Um, let me think, FUCK NO. That is time for POTUS and/or State to state clearly we will not be bullied into given up freedoms to appease the angry. It is time for Intelligence, State and Defense to work to review if they need to make changes to keep the diplomats and other State employees reasonable safe.

  130. James Pollock says

    "when mobs are gathering outside American embassies in volatile capitals such as Cairo and Islamabad, complaining of a "blasphemous" Youtube video, does it not behoove our law enforcement and intelligence communities to learn everything they can about the video, including who made it?"

    "Um, let me think, FUCK NO. That is time for POTUS and/or State to state clearly we will not be bullied into given up freedoms to appease the angry."

    Why are you under the impression that these two options are mutually exclusive?

    (general rule: Having more information before making decisions leads to better decision-making. This is the fundamental assumption of management accounting, market research, and the billions of dollars this country spends on its intelligence services, among others.)

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Nakoula case isn't about anyone's free speech rights. The First Amendment doesn't protect the right of convicted criminals to operate under aliases in potentially lucrative business while owing restitution to the victims of their earlier crimes. While I wholly endorse the right to speak truth about Islam — and to hell with any mob of violent savages who object — Ken White is correct that Nakoula is neither a "political prisoner" nor a heroic martyr for free speech. […]