Midnight Raid on Controversial Filmmaker

Looks like it’s not a good idea to embarrass the regime. That’s pretty severe rhetoric for Glenn Reynolds, but I don’t blame him for being animated about this. The implications are serious. I had started to jump on this, but reading further about the fact that this filmmaker was on probation for Bank Fraud, and forbidden from using computers, having others use computers on his behalf, except for vocation, and was also forbidden from using an alias, I am less certain. A person on probation doesn’t ordinarily have rights as a normal, free person does. A person on probation agrees to give up certain liberties in exchange for not serving their sentence in federal prison. I’ll quote Popehat on this:

Based on 6 years as a federal prosecutor and 12 as a federal defense lawyer, let me say this: minor use of a computer — like uploading a video to YouTube — is not something that I would usually expect to result in arrest and a revocation proceeding; I think a warning would be more likely unless the defendant had already had warnings or the probation officer was a hardass. But if I had a client with a serious fraud conviction, and his fraud involved aliases, and he had the standard term forbidding him from using aliases during supervised release, and his probation officer found out that he was running a business, producing a movie, soliciting money, and interacting with others using an alias, I would absolutely expect him to be arrested immediately, whatever the content of the movie. Seriously. Nakoula pled guilty to using alias to scam money. Now he’s apparently been producing a film under an alias, dealing with the finances of the film under the alias, and (if his “Sam Bacile” persona is to be believed) soliciting financing under an alias. I would expect him to run into a world of hurt for that even if he were producing a “Coexist” video involving kittens.

Read the whole thing. I’m persuaded by the argument that if the FBI was the entity doing the questioning, that might pose an issue. But in the articles I’m finding, it sounds like he was questioned by federal probation officers, and it was the LA County Sheriff that brought him in. Not that Obama hasn’t shown himself to be about as useless as an ashtray on a motorbike as President, but I’m not sure this is thuggery yet, though I could be convinced. My bigger fear is that this is going to be taken as appeasement, and is just going to promote more violence.

UPDATE: Further follow-up at Popehat.

26 thoughts on “Midnight Raid on Controversial Filmmaker”

  1. The issue thay I have with the raid, timing, et al, is not one of probation, but one of prudence. It may easily be that this guy is a scumbag, and lets face it, judging by the subject matter, probably is. Insomuch as the matter was intended to be inflammatory, it worked. Was it taken out of all perspective? Yes. But, as Robb Allen recently related, many legal battles are fought with imperfect defendants. The fact that this went through with the level of speed that it did, in the jurisdiction that it did (which is a very politically connected and public one) indicates to me that it was undertaken with either explicit support from higher government or supposition thereof. Multiple deputies at midnight are not required for a probation violation. This is, at best, a political stunt with global ramifications. While I do somewhat discount that this was a decision prompted by the Administration, it lays a troubling precedent for future use.

  2. The probation violation is just an excuse. After midnight with several police in brown shirts and that was voluntary? I call bullshit. That was the DOJ putting the screws to the filmer because the film embarrassed Obama. This is blamming the messenger.

  3. I can understand both points of view. But here is what I find disturbing: once probation officials found out there was a potential parole violation, they had a choice. They could come down hard, arresting the man in the middle of the night, and potentially inflame the citizenry, who might interpret this as retaliation for embarrassing the regime. Or they could have taken another approach, perhaps a daytime interview at his home.

    Whether or not the arrest was were justified, the fact remains that they erred on the side of “world opinion.” Put another way, they were less concerned about the negative reaction of the citizenry perceiving a civil rights violation then they were in placating angry Muslims. And this government has demonstrated, again, that is more concerned with world opinion than the rights of the people. I’m not sure where we reached this tipping point.

  4. It seems obvious that Reynolds is right that the handling of this is a direct result of his having embarrassed the Obama administration. Otherwise, do we have any reason to think his questioning would have been handled in this manner? I don’t think so. In that sense, the DOJ has gone too far–again–and this all just offers us one more reason to act in November (not that we needed another). Every time something like this happens, I’m less impressed by the “Romney and Obama are the same!” people. Truth is, no matter how squishy Romney might wind up being, we need a severe reset back to someone who at least understands what the rule of law means.

  5. They appear to have gone right to the “hard” option without appearing to have tried the “soft” option. Bodes ill for them respecting his rights.

  6. Echoing other commentators, this is a case where optics are critical. The perception that a bit of rioting, including using that for well planned assaults and murders (the use of mortars in the Libyan consulate assault is telling), prompted the US to jail the person “responsible” for the video used as a pretext will only result in more of the same, more riots, assaults and deaths. Until there are enough counterexamples or a strong enough response by a Romney administration that our adversaries, who have been at war with us for 13 or so centuries, realize it was a one off.

    Assuming it was, as a PJMedia column by Zombia advocating “Truthaganda” suggests, we should frame this as:


    And who knows if that’ll turn out to be the case as long as Team Obama controls the executive? The usual suspects are showing as much respect for the First Amendment as they do the Second that we could be in for some nasty actions. You did note how quickly this guy was outed, his contact information posted for all the world to see, YouTube (Google) was asked to take it down, the nation’s top military officer was enlisted in the suppression, the video was denounced in much stronger terms than the murders, etc. etc.

    1. This. I can see what Popehat is saying, but at the same time we know that the grapevine was strung from the White House down to the local level, and this all came a day after the administration “requested” YouTube to take down the video. So as Glenn Reynolds says, the argument that it’s just a routine probation violation doesn’t pass the laugh test.

      Any previous administration would have been making phone calls to ensure Nakoula *wasn’t* hauled in at midnight in front of TV cameras, or at least not for a couple more weeks until the immediate spotlight was off and the world wouldn’t see it as cooperation with terrorists.

      At absolute best, this shows a widespread attitude in the administration (dog bites man) and law enforcement communities (uh oh) that generally favors European/Canadian style restrictions on “hate speech”, and therefore by definition a total disregard for the First Amendment. Even if that’s “all” it is, I say it’s a perfectly good reason to get worked up.

  7. It doesn’t matter if this arrest was really the result a legitimate breach of his probation agreement. The muslim protestors will see it as proof that they can move mountains with their lunacy, and will be further encouraged.

  8. The Hollywood Reporter in reference to the owner of the film ranch on which some of the video was shot says:

    The FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were interviewing Veluzat on Thursday, and Veluzat told The Hollywood Reporter that both law-enforcement agencies instructed him not to speak with the press or other interested parties about what he knows about The Innocence of Muslims.

    So, maybe, just maybe we might have an issue posed after all? As the Instpundit put it in a ever widening “quote of the day” from his article you linked to:

    When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

  9. This should be the tipping point. If the administration has shown its hand so nakedly then we the citizens have been reduced to subjects.

    I suspect the 3% have just increased their numbers. How many of us will answer with fortications and gunfire?

    1. You’re getting a bit ahead of events, first let’s see if he gets reelected despite this and no doubt what’s going to follow in the next little while.

      And by definition, armed people aren’t subjects, we’re citizens … or bandits, [fill in the blank], etc. The furthest I’m willing to go at the moment is that if Obama is reelected half the population has decided they’re happiest being subjects.

  10. If the DOJ has the sheriffs take a man from his home at 1:30 AM,all because he embarrassed Obama, I am not ahead of events, this happened Saturday morning.

    WAKE UP. THIS IS CLASSIC BROWN SHIRTS. Early days, yes, but it is happening now!!!

    1. Perhaps I worded that poorly; my point is that Team Obama has made their Elián González move, except it’s in many ways worse, but they’re up for reelection in less than 2 months. If the voters of the US, in their infinite wisdom, turn Team Obama out of office we better not continue to be in a domestic crisis situation befitting a 3rd World cesspool like Chicago.

      To use the relevant meme, “There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order.“. We’re using the first box this very moment. I’ve already commented on the second, I don’t know if the third will come into play (it will if Team Obama tries to extend this to people who merely “commit three felonies a day” as opposed to being out on probation for conviction on one or more), and therefore I say we’re far from the 4th.

      Which is not to say I haven’t shifted from musing about buying some gold coins to a AN/PVS-14….

      Also, this is not classic Brown Shirts. The Nazi SA was initially a civilian paramilitary organization that enough of the authorities turned a blind eye towards for various reasons. When non-state actors get away with violence in a similar way then we’ll know fascism is on its way unless we take appropriate steps.

      These are actual state actors, analogously a big step beyond the Nazi SA prior to the Nazis gaining formal power. The Brown Shirt symbolism is strong, but it would be better if they had worn tacticool black uniforms, analogous to the SS (which replaced the SA especially beginning on the Night of the Long Knives) which included the Gestapo.

      1. Swat has adopted the military tactics of charging into homes late at night to get the element of surprise for the most trivial reason and infractions. I will be surprised if small time criminals and other more law abiding will not start to fortify the doors to give a warning before the invasion . This works against criminal home invaders and police. Which many now are starting to believe as bad guys also.

  11. Roger Kimball has labeled this as “The Picture That Should Cost Obama His Job” and upon reflection I think it just might.

    The current conventional wisdom is that 90% of the populace has made up their minds (split about evenly) and Romney is now running a wishy-washy campaign for the soft, low information 10% in the “middle”. And that this might be fatal due to his … problematic relationship with the Republican base, which as I keep noting would have put McCain the White House if it had come out for him like it did for Bush in 2004.

    Well, despite the MSM’s Maximum Effort propaganda on this crisis which is likely to be successful with those 10% among others, a lot of the base is going to see this picture and understand its implications. And be a lot more “Anybody But Obama” and vote against him by voting for Romney in November.

    1. Here’s the first cut of an argument to use on the wavering (albeit in my “Hammer of God” mode):

      Obama’s trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see will break the nation, and probably fairly soon. What happens after that will be ugly, and if we lose in the aftermath, that’s your and your family’s future as you’re hauled off to the reeducation camps.

      OK, that’s a bit too severe for most, who won’t continence the evil that our government is capable of (look at the lack of aftermath of Waco), but it will work on some, and perhaps it’ll prompt some of you to come up with kinder and gentler approaches.

      E.g. “This is Obama’s America, ….”

  12. Obama’s trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see will break the nation, and probably fairly soon. What happens after that will be ugly, and if we lose in the aftermath, that’s your and your family’s future as you’re hauled off to the reeducation camps.

    The problem with that tune is, that it dates back to long before budgets and deficits were trillion-dollar, and to when other Democrats (and Republicans) were president; but the doom-and-gloom always was just as deep, and the threat was always just as imminent. That’s nearly forty years, based on how long I’ve been listening with a more or less adult ear. Anyone who is hearing it for the first time now really has just fallen off the turnip truck. I don’t know how many of them there are.

    Sure, almost everyone agrees it’s going to be true someday, but someday is not a useful period of time, as a practical predictive tool. Meanwhile, small boys with big voices have been crying wolf for decades now, while the people in the village have stopped listening beyond the occasional tongue-cluck. But, most aren’t losing sleep over a wolf that will arrive someday.

    1. It has been at least 40 years, I guess we’re about as old, but the threat has never been as imminent today as it has been for 30 years (Carter and the Reagan cleanup). Plus the capture by the New Left of the Democratic party was very much a work in progress in the ’70s, I’m not sure when I’d label it as “complete” … except perhaps now that the Blue Dogs are almost extinct (last expected to go after this election last time I checked) and the top Dems don’t even pretend.

      So that’s why I emphasize “trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see”. Sounds big and is big; point out that we’re monetizing much or most of it, and I don’t find it difficult to believe the wolf finally is at the door. Or at least at the edge of the forest, looking hungrily in.

      Bottom line is that at least for me, someone who’s been following this for that period of time, reading The Wall Street Journal for most of that period, that “someday” has moved to “probably by the end of this decade”. As well as “entirely possibly tomorrow“. Literally literally.

      Some people will be amenable to this argument. And if not, it was just a starting point, you can [fill in the blank] for what gets us to the point where untermenschen like us gun toting bitter clingers are sent to the reeducation camps or worse (I’m of course citing Obama’s Weather Underground pals who called for exactly that, with an estimated liquidation of 10% of the population unamenable to reeducation).

      If we lose, that is, and playing up how bad the fight before them, whatever shape it might take, is fruitful, the fall of the Republic and all that….

      1. About all we can say with certainty is, that if it’s going to happen, it’s about 40 years more imminent than when you and I started paying attention.

        I may seem to make light, but I do take it seriously. The trouble is, I decided long ago that the chances of making any politically significant number of people take it seriously is very small, and declines the longer it is talked about. In the great sweep of history, it is a situation that will only resolve itself. Rational intervention by man himself will not provide a solution. Almost to a man, everyone will insist that rational intervention must stop short of hurting their immediate self-interest.

  13. What do people think the Dick Cheney White House would have done? Remember the Patriot Act? We got that courtesy of the Bush White House.

    Take a look at Romney’s foreign policy advisors. Most of them came from the Bush White House. You want to return to that?

    1. You are aware that Obama has made far more use of drone strikes, killing bystanders, than Bush did? At least Bush scared the crazies in the Middle East–and how many filmmakers were taken in for questioning in the Bush Administration?

  14. Also, the journalists weren’t called in to take photos of this arrest. They had been camped out outside this man’s house since they figured out his name. They had even been on the roof of the neighbor’s house so they could take photos of his backyard. They were not leaving until he came out. I would guess 50+ media organizations were outside of that house just waiting.

    1. Maybe they wanted to produce a movie and put the trailer up on YouTube for their own political purposes?

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