Bill Otis, at the Crime and Consequences blog, notes an under-reported aspect of the story of Rev. Terry Jones plan (which he subsequently called off) to burn the Koran. It is this: FBI agents visited Rev. Jones shortly before he changed his mind about the book burning.
The AP story about the FBI’s visit linked it to concern about public safety. But, as Bill observes, any reasonable public safety concern stemming from the action of Rev. Jones and his church would have only a local dimension — i.e., retaliation against him and his church. Thus, Bill, a former federal prosecutor, concludes that there is “no visible nexus whatever for FBI involvement.”
This raises the suspicion that the FBI visit was an attempt to intimidate Rev. Jones. A vist for this purpose would be an entirely improper infringement on his (and by extension our) civil liberties.
I had no sympathy for Jones’ plan to plan the Koran — better that Americans should read the book and evaluate the relationship between its words and the behavior of jihadists. But Jones has a constitutionally protected right to do what he was planning to do, and the FBI should not throw its weight around attempting to “persuade” Jones not to exercise that right.
As Bill stated in an email to me:
Since when does the AG — who I strongly suspect knew about this, given its prominence and his own earlier comments [about the matter] — get to send in the FBI to try to snuff patently legal behavior? If an imam had threatened to burn a Bible to protest American imperialism, and a Republican AG preemptively sent in the FBI, the liberal press would have gone into orbit about (1) McCarthyism, (2) censorship, (3) abuse of law enforcement authority, and (4) the attack on the Constitution.
Obama’s AG does exactly the same thing, and I haven’t seen a murmur of protest, or even recognition that something might be amiss.