So let’s see where today finds us: (1) Someone from within our State Department is familiar enough with the movements of a United States Ambassador that they know precisely where to find him, viz. in a “temporary,” largely unsecured facility, on (2) the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. By the most curious happenstance (3) several hundred “protesters” show up at that self-same “temporary” facility, armed with rocket-propelled ordnance. Even though (4) the same State Department has had 48 hours’ advance notice that our facilities in the region are likely to be targets of violence, (5) the ambassador is permitted to be at that largely-unsecured “temporary” facility, and while there is left to the care of native security “forces,” perhaps the single most vulnerable security measure imaginable. Events unfold as pretty much anyone (at least anyone outside the administration) could have predicted.
But wait! There’s an explanation! Some guy with more time and money than talent put together, months before, a film in which there are portrayals allegedly less than wholly flattering to the peculiar religious views of certain people. Mind now, this film has been floating about out there for months and months, but it’s not until — will wonders never cease? — the anniversary of the September 11 attacks that the wounded sensibility of these “protesters” finally cries, “Thus far and no farther!” and 400-odd of them, all at once coincidentally, grab an RPG and head on down to the “temporary” U.S. diplomatic facility where — well, who woulda thunk it? — the U.S. ambassador just happens to be.
Now folks, just ignore the Al Qaeda pronouncement that these attacks are retaliation for a specific hit put on a named individual. No, what our administration, the folks with their hands on the levers of what is at least on paper the most powerful single organization in world history — the executive branch of the United States government — elects to do is publicly buy in to the “protesters'” assertion that this is about some made-in-the-back-bedroom-closet movie. Administration has a range of choices with that public stance. It can confine itself to the facts on the ground, namely an act of war perpetrated against high United States officials, and take a position on that basis. It can tell the “protesters” that, really you know, it’s about time y’all grew up to be a Big Boy Religion and learned to take a damned joke, and if this high-school drama department-level production is the worst your faith has to fear, y’all can go home, put the dogs up, crack a cold one, and watch you some pornography after the fashion of your jihadists over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or the administration can go all legalistic and say that, well, over in America under our laws we simply don’t recognize the validity of your demands. If this guy wants to call your religion’s founder everything in the book and then some, that’s between you and him, and we utterly reject any suggestion that his actions can legitimize yours. Go pound sand, and oh by the way, stand by for a special delivery of 150-175 tomahawk missiles, delivered right to your front doors. Please wait 25-30 minutes for delivery.
Or the administration of the most powerful goverment on the planet can do what it in fact did. It can deliver itself of a well-there-are-arguments-on-both-sides load of dishwater, and earnestly regret that an American citizen’s exercise of a right guaranteed to him by our nation’s founding document upset some folks who have made grievance-mongering into an art form (tacky thought: Our dear president may well envy them the artistry with which they practice “community organizing”; I mean, did O ever manage to put RPGs out in support of new flooring in the projects’ elevators?). It can demand of a private party (YouTube) that it suppress this movie (bravo! to YouTube for giving the feds the bum’s rush on that one). And it can lean on county officials (since when does Washington give instructions to the sheriff’s department of Bugger Anywhere, by the way?) to appear, literally in the dead of the night, but not without first arranging for maximum media coverage, at this guy’s door and drag the schmuck in for “questioning” about . . . what? That’s right: a “possible parole violation” relating to a two year-old conviction for . . . bank fraud. Yup. The federal probation officer out in Los Angeles does business late at night, it seems. The white-collar crime boys in the U.S. Attorney’s office out there likewise keep late hours. None of this could have been arranged with a morning phone call to the guy or his lawyer, course. Drive around back, old fellow, and tell the guy at the gate you’re here to see Dept. U.S. Atty Schmuckatelly. Nope; let’s put more American firepower on the ground (every one of those deputies is packing, notice) to haul in some two-bit amateur movie-hound than we did to protect our ambassador to Libya; let’s have more rounds in the clip than the U.S. Marines defending our embassy in Cairo were permitted to carry.
I have just a few questions: Did the vehicle they shoved this guy into, for his “voluntary” midnight ride to the
Lubyanka sheriff’s department (why the sheriff’s department, if it was a federal rap?), have on its side an advertisement to “Drink Soviet Champagne”? Who’s going to play Vyshinsky in this guy’s show-trial of a parole violation hearing? Who’s going to play Yagoda to soften him up and rehearse his lines before they trot him before the cameras in the court room? Will there be places reserved on the front benches for Al Quaeda to seat its operatives?
Every couple of years I read through, just to refresh my recollection, the entirety of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, all three volumes of it. The last sentence in the last book of the last volume: “There is no law.”
This is where we find ourselves today, September 16, 2012.