How time flies. It hardly seems possible that almost a year has passed since last Septembers controversy over an offensive YouTube video, The Innocence of Muslims. The video led to protests at American embassies in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, drew the attention of the U.S. President (The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam), and had serious people questioning American free speech principles. Things have gotten much worse in the Middle East since thenin Egypt today, there are reports of massive violence in Cairo and the burning of churches across the countryfor reasons that have nothing to do with a video that, one suspects, gets very few hits any longer. At one point, the U.S. Government asserted that the video had led to the storming of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the murder of four Americans there, including the U.S. ambassador. But that explanation is no longer operative, and the media seems mostly uninterested in finding out what really happened. What difference at this point does it make?
One person for whom time has not flown, however, is the videos American producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Mark Basseley Youssef. He has spent the past year in federal prison. Nakoula has been in jail for violating parole on a prior fraud conviction, but there can be little doubt that as a practical matter authorities seized him because of the controversy over the video. Federal authorities have now moved him to a halfway house to serve the remaining weeks of his sentence. The location is undisclosed, presumably to protect Nakoula. In an interview this week with CNN, Nakoula says he was shocked at the allegation that his film caused the Benghazi attack. He alsomuch less convincinglyexpresses surprise that people would think his video was anti-Islam. Nakoula will be on probation for a few more years and will also need to face civil suits by the films actors, who allege he misled them about the videos content.