Benghazi’s Other Victims

Not just four dead Americans—The filmmaker and our Constitutional rights suffered too

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The mainstream media is loath to admit it but Hillary Clinton had a very bad day testifying before the Benghazi committee. When Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) confronted the former Secretary of State with her own emails concerning the 2012 terrorist attack, Mrs. Clinton flailed gracelessly and backpedaled from previous statements.

The emails concern the motive for the attack and its perpetrators. It was never about “The Innocence of Muslims,” a Youtube video that portrayed the historical Mohammad as a truly villainous character. Nearly everyone now admits that the video did not spark the great Benghazi conflagration that left four Americans dead and a consulate in ruins—and by “everyone,” I mean members of the Obama Administration. It was like pulling teeth to get them to concede the point but they apparently have. Their current position is that they made an honest mistake in the Clausewitzian “fog of war.” As difficult as it was to defend the “honest mistake” narrative before Clinton’s emails were uncovered, it is now impossible—or at least it’s impossible for people who care about facts.

Three emails discovered on Mrs. Clinton’s illegal private email server—the one she wiped to stymie investigators—reveal that the secretary never believed the Youtube yarn for a moment. The night of the attack she confided in her daughter Chelsea via email that the compound had been besieged by an “al-Qaeda like group.” She said something similar to the president of Libya, and to Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil she wrote: “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to with the film. It was a planned attack not a protest.” These words were written approximately twenty-four hours after the attack.

Being the skilled liar that she is, Clinton actually tried to deny that she had ever claimed otherwise. Clearly it was a terrorist attack, not a spontaneous protest gone awry, and she had said so all along!

Okay, not really. On the night of the attack, she addressed the nation, saying:

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

So there are two lies in that brief statement—that our government values religious tolerance (LOL!) and that the attack was spurred by a video. I’m sure her defenders, weasels that they are, will argue that Clinton never definitively blamed the video but only claimed that “some” sought to justify the attack on those grounds. Who those “some” are is unclear, especially when one considers that the rumor was spawned at the highest levels of the US government. In any case, it’s weak sauce. She was clearly blaming “The Innocence of Muslims,” just as the rest of the administration did. They had their talking points coordinated and they spoke with one voice—blame the video!

This new revelation should go a long way toward debunking the results of the sham investigation concluded last November which found the administration blameless. How anyone could have come to that conclusion without examining all the evidence is beyond me. They obviously never subpoenaed the secretary’s emails or they would have discovered, months before anyone else did, that Hillary was using a private, unsecured email server. They didn’t find any fault because they didn’t look very hard.

It would be prudent at this point for Mrs. Clinton and her former boss to apologize to the American public for misleading them. It’ll never happen, I know. But there’s another person, a non-American, who also deserves an apology. His name is Nakoula Bassely Nakoula and he produced the video under the pseudonym “Sam Bacile.” Mr. Nakoula was the administration’s sacrificial lamb led to the slaughter so that the administration could appease the mob, escape blame, and win reelection. Besides the four dead Americans and their families, of course, no one has suffered more than he.

When Mrs. Clinton attended the funeral of Tyrone Woods, a security contractor and former Navy SEAL who gave his life trying to hold back the angry hordes, she approached Charles Woods, the victim’s father, and told him that she would seek retribution—not against the barbarians who killed his son, of course, but against Nakoula Bassely Nakoula. According to Mr. Woods, Clinton said “We’re going to make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” Yikes!

Nakoula was of course arrested and imprisoned just as Clinton promised he would be. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the picture of a man being hauled off by Los Angeles County sheriffs, his identity obscured behind a hat, a heavy buttoned-up coat, and what appears to be gauze across his face. It was another one of the many “They can’t do that in America!” moments that I’ve witnessed in recent years. Our government doesn’t jail people for making movies; or at least it’s not supposed to. That’s the kind of stuff you think happens only in places like China and Venezuela. It can’t happen here.

Oh, but it can and did. Granted, the man wasn’t charged with making an inflammatory film. He was charged with violating the terms of his probation, which forbad him, among other things, from using aliases. He also lied to the police about his involvement in the film. Both of his minor crimes can be understood as the actions of a man in fear for his life and those of his family.

I’m not so naïve as to believe that the charge was really the charge. It’s no coincidence that he was arrested just four days after the Benghazi attack though his video had been on Youtube for three months. His arrest and prosecution fulfilled Hillary Clinton’s promise to Charles Woods and appeased the Muslim world—at the expense of the first amendment, of course. Authorities had to find something to charge Nakoula with and minor probation violations were a good fit. Nakoula was sentenced to a year in prison.

What a disgraceful episode in American history. While no one in the government was obliged to defend the content of the video, someone should have stood up for our sacred freedoms. The current administration instead caved to the mob’s cries for vengeance. Barack Obama even appealed directly to Youtube, asking it to review the video to determine if it violated its terms of service, a clear suggestion that it should be removed. That’s too close to government censorship for my liking. To its credit, Youtube did not comply.

I was reminded of Nakoula again when I recently learned of Clinton’s 2010 meeting with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, where she promised to curb “Islamophobia” through the employment of “some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” The OIC advocates for laws that would criminalize criticism of Islam as illegal “defamation.” Clinton was essentially meeting them halfway, trying to demonstrate that the “defamation” they feared could be rooted out by softer forms of censorship.

If this doesn’t frighten you, it should. Government officials should never talk this way. While peer pressure and shaming may sound like constitutional methods for making people shut their pie holes, they can quickly devolve into first amendment violations when practiced by the government. The dustup over “The Innocence of Muslims” offers an excellent case in point. No, the government won’t jail a man for making a video—it will find a pretext and jail him for that instead. No, the government won’t order Youtube to censor the film—it will ask Youtube to review its terms of service in hopes of persuading someone else to censor it instead.

See? It’s all perfectly legal!

Nakoula Bassely Nakoula paid a price that no one in a free society should ever have to pay for making a film. The administration should have had some testicular fortitude and told the Muslim world where to stick it. But it did the cowardly thing instead, as you knew it would, and fed the ravenous alligators in hopes of being eaten last. The Benghazi attack’s death toll ought to include the names of four dead Americans, of course, but also the first amendment, which died a little that day in September 2012.

Benny Huang is a lonely conservative in the very liberal Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. He strives to make the world a better place through his writing. He is a veteran.