Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Is Not A Political Prisoner

My favorite Nakoula arrest meme: Funny, but wrong.

My favorite Nakoula arrest meme: Funny, but wrong.

The Congressional hearings regarding what increasingly appears to be intentional dissembling by the Obama Administration to minimize the political fallout from the Benghazi terrorist attack have, predictably, sparked renewed attention to the fate of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the creator of the anti-Islamist Youtube video that Hillary, the President, and Susan Rice pretended was the reason an ambassador and others ended up dead.

Nakoula is in prison, and his arrest for violating the terms of his probation was certainly well-timed for Obama Administration spin  purposes; purportedly (and if true, outrageously) Hillary Clinton told the family of one of the slain Americans that the filmmaker responsible for the video would be punished. This is only hearsay, but I am inclined to believe it: it is pure Clinton, masterful deceit. Nakoula couldn’t be punished for the video, of course, because of that darn old First Amendment. But Hillary may have known that he was headed for punishment and prison for something else, so it was a perfect ploy to make the victims’ families and any offended Muslims think this was why he was going to jail. Me, I think that oh-so-clever ploy is a betrayal of American integrity and values, but that depends on what the meaning of is is.

The Right, however, is sure that Nakoula was arrested for the video, one way or the other. Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, has come right out and said that he’s a political prisoner.

My position on Nakoula’s arrest, you probably don’t recall, was that even if it was legitimate and  only related to his violating the terms of his release, the Obama Administration should have made certain he was not arrested at a time when it would appear abroad that the U.S. was punishing him for exercising his right of free speech. For this I was soundly pummeled by Ken at Popehat, a hero of mine, who wrote that my position came down to a rejection of the rule of law, holding instead that..

“The mob’s actions are going to be driven by its own culture and by the people manipulating the mob for their own political gain. Jack, and others, seem to be saying that the mob will misunderstand the orderly administration of the law in this instance: but is there really any chance that the mob will ever make an honest attempt to understand, or will care, or that the forces manipulating them will react honestly? Respect the rule of law and fuck ‘em if they don’t like it.”

In my humble rebuttal, I demonstrated that the US media also reported the arrest as if it were retribution for the video, and wrote,

“I agree with Ken that the rule of law is crucial, and that threats of violence from terrorists should not cause us to betray it. But Ken is a former prosecutor. He knows that prosecutors waive prosecution in a myriad of cases on utilitarian grounds, and that the exercise of rational prosecutorial discretion is considered a strength of the system. Sometimes prosecutors refuse to prosecute because the costs of prosecution outweigh any benefits to society, or simply because the state doesn’t think it can prevail. Sometimes they refuse to prosecute because a law is outdated, or never enforced, and rigid enforcement will diminish respect for the rule of law in the community. Sometimes they refrain from prosecuting on humanitarian grounds, as when an elderly husband kills his cancer-ridden spouse who begged him to end her pain. Criminals are spared prosecution to get their testimony against worse offenders, or have them serve as informants. It seems to me that both upholding and appearing to uphold America’s enshrinement of free speech for all, regardless of content, is as important an objective as any of these, and certainly outbalances a relentless enforcement of “the rule of law” against a parole violation by a small-time swindler like Nakoula.”

Nonetheless, I have never believed that this was in fact a political arrest, just that the Obama Administration was disgracefully happy to have it seen as one. Now Ken, in his typically acerbic manner, has convincingly argued that Lowry and his pals are not merely wrong, but ignorant, reckless and wrong:

“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 supervisee’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….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….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.”

Ken is right, and as is so rare in the world of blogging, actually knows what he is talking about, unlike Lowry. Nakoula was used, but he’s no political prisoner. The Right is overreaching, as it so often does when it has a legitimate issue.


Pointer and Graphic: Instapundit

Source: Popehat, Politico

6 thoughts on “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Is Not A Political Prisoner

  1. Jack, do you ever get hired by media outlets to do ethics seminars for them? Why are you the only person around who vigorously reports on wrongheadedness despite the side of the political spectrum from which it originates? Good for you, but ridiculously rare.

    • …and, to be honest, why he has loyal readers like me.

      I suppose it’s my silly notion of valuing truth and honesty over my political ideology.


    • Well, it may be, sad to say, because I’m not paid for it. Howard Kurtz was once more or less objective, but he began pitching his commentary where the money is—the progressive-liberal establishment. Then they began pumping him up as an authority, he cashed in, was over-committed, and got sloppy. Success will corrupt you in the media, and any profession, unless you are especially wary.

      It’s a problem I would like to have the chance to tackle, however.

      • Kinda pathetic that ethics and truth are essentially for sale to the highest bidder in one’s favorite flavor – however, as you pointed out elsewhere, this is why no one believes think tanks anymore.

  2. Jack, you put this just how I was considering responding at Popehat 🙂 There seems to be a split, where people either say NBN is a total patsy/political prisoner who shouldn’t be in prison, or else that he broke the law and the administration has no culpability. I see him as the PERFECT patsy- one who did something tangentially related that can be used as a distraction, who also genuinely broke the law in doing so. Of course, his crime had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack, but he still deserves to be locked back up for it. The administration’s manipulation isn’t the fact that he’s in jail, is that they piled a stack of innuendo and misdirection to make it seem as if his jail time WERE connected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.