I have qualms about writing this. To assert that a political prisoner has been jailed in America is a serious charge. And the man in question is not exactly a Boy Scout. Do I really want to champion him? But, dammit, this must be said. Tell me if I’ve gotten it wrong.
Obama’s prisoner is Mark Basseley Youssef, the man behind that “Innocence of Muslims” film. Here is the L.A. Times report (Tweeted earlier by Tammy).
‘Innocence of Muslims’ filmmaker gets a year in prison
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the filmmaker behind “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Islam film that sparked rioting across the globe, to a year behind bars after the man admitted to violating the terms of his release from an earlier conviction.
Mark Basseley Youssef admitted to four violations, including lying to his probation officer and using bogus names. In exchange, prosecutors dropped four other counts, including allegations that Youssef lied in saying that his role in the film’s production was limited to writing the script. Youssef was under a type of federal probation — known as supervised release — after being convicted in 2010 of bank and credit-card fraud, in which he was accused of causing $800,000 in losses…
Youssef is an immigrant (a Coptic Christian out of Egypt) and an embezzler. I have no sympathy for a man that comes to America and robs it. If he committed an $800,000 crime in 2010 and was subsequently convicted, why isn’t he still in jail? Why wasn’t he deported? There’s a background story here, and I haven’t followed up on it.
Youssef was living a restricted life. The probationary constraints placed upon him were presumably for the general purpose of assuring that his financial dealings were aboveboard.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Robert Dugdale objected, saying the man’s record of fraud and deception made the violations particularly serious.
“This is not a defendant that you want out there using multiple names,” he said, noting Youssef had a passport under one name and a driver’s license under another, and worked on the film under a third identity.
That sounds reasonable enough in general. But does it apply in this case? If Youssef’s violations did not involve deceit for financial gain, then he’s being locked up on a questionable technicality. It’s obvious that Youssef came under scrutiny as a direct result of his exercise of free expression. Did his actions actually constitute a criminal threat, or is this just a handy excuse to prosecute him?
Free speech is an American fundamental right. It’s understandable that someone might want to use a pseudonym when expressing the “wrong” opinion about the roots of Islam. Ask Salman Rushdie or Theo van Gogh about that. (You can’t ask these people; Rushdie is in hiding with a price on his head and van Gogh was murdered. The offended Islamists have been known to play rough.)
No, Youssef wasn’t an innocent lamb. But in a bureaucratic state, everyone is in violation of something. Anyone can be jailed or held on a technicality.
Let’s pause for a quick summary of what happened in Libya on 9/11. The American embassy in Benghazi was hit by an organized military attack, resulting in the murder of Ambassador Stevens and others, and the public desecration of the ambassador’s body. Obama’s people knew this immediately; they had video and direct communication with the embassy under siege. General Petreaus reported from the outset that this was an attack by an al Qaeda affiliate. And yet, Obama and Hillary and Rice went before the American people with a fantasy narrative about a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand. The “demonstration” was, we were told, an angry protest against a video that nobody ever heard of.
Is there any possible innocent explanation for this deception? Over a month later, Hillary blamed the Administration’s false story on the “fog of war”. Indeed, “fog of war” is a genuine battlefield phenomenon. But in this case, there was the clear line of communication; video and voice with the diplomats under siege. Obama’s people weren’t the victims of this “fog of war”; they were the cause of it.
The motivation for the lie is obvious enough. Obama had proclaimed the “Arab Spring” to be a glorious thing, and his Middle Eastern doctrine was based upon that interpretation of events. He sent our money, our military, to facilitate the revolutions. That power has passed to al Qaeda affiliates who murder our people and drag their bodies through the streets; this reality contradicts Obama’s naive vision. Thus the blunder begets the lie. The American public must be deceived, lest they realize the catastrophic results of Obama’s mistakes.
Which brings us back to the political prisoner. This part you’ll remember. The condemnation of the “hateful video” by Rice and Hillary. Obama’s speech to the UN. That’s the new American response to the murder of our people. No longer do our leaders stand up for free expression. No, instead they express empathy for those that rampage and murder. The American president goes to the UN and proclaims, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” In the context of the situation, this statement implies an appalling moral equivalence. Murder is bad, sure, but under the circumstances it’s understandable. If we put our house in order, if we stopped our provocative acts, then people won’t kill us anymore.
Obama spoke of bringing those responsible for the massacre to justice. In Obama’s mind, perhaps jailing Youssef is his way of making good on that promise.
Egypt court sentences 8 to death over prophet film
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.
The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence. The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.
The low-budget “Innocence of Muslims,” parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.
Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information – charges that carry the death sentence.
I guess we should give Obama credit for supporting the moderate Muslims, in that America has merely imprisoned Youssef but not executed him.
It’s also worth remembering that Obama asked Google to take down the video in question.
White House ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Request Denied: Google Will Not Remove Film From YouTube
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Google Inc rejected a request by the White House on Friday to reconsider its decision to keep online a controversial YouTube movie clip that has ignited anti-American protests in the Middle East…
We should be grateful that Google stands up for the fundamental American value and human right of free speech, even as the American leaders abandon it.