It is hard to know who should frighten Americans more: radical Islamists or our own government.
I say this with only the slightest hint of hyperbole following Thursday's Associated Press story about the evil genius (not!) behind the sophomoric film "Innocence of Muslims," which Islamofascists across the Middle East and North Africa are using as a flimsy excuse -- an excuse only believed by the Obama administration and other blame-America-first naïfs -- to kill American people and destroy American property.
The scary part of the story is not that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was described as having a "checkered past" including a criminal prosecution two years ago.
The scary part of the story is not that we now know that "Sam Bacile" is an alias used by Nakoula while making the film and publishing it online.
The scary part of the story is not that Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, was claiming, when talking about his ridiculous film, to be Jewish (as if my tribe doesn't have enough problems with people from the Middle East to Foggy Bottom).
The scary part isn't even that Steve Klein, a "Christian activist" who was involved with making the film, told the AP that he "warned the filmmaker that 'you're going to be the next Theo van Gogh.'" Van Gogh was the Dutch filmmaker who was shot eight times and nearly decapitated by a Dutch-born Muslim of Moroccan descent who disapproved of Van Gogh's short film Submission.
No, the frightening, terrifying, chilling part of the story is that Mr. Nakoula was identified to the AP by "a federal law enforcement official… who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation."
The AP notes that Attorney General Eric Holder, who presides over the most corrupt Justice Department of my lifetime, is launching a criminal investigation into the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya.
It is inconceivable (to the extent that anything is inconceivable with this Attorney General) that Mr. Nakoula could be a legitimate target of such an investigation, regardless of what else he might have done wrong (such as misleading his actors and dubbing their dialogue with references to Mohammed after the film was made). Nakoula's First Amendment rights in this situation are absolute.
But even that misses the point: Our government just identified to a news organization the real name of a person who is undoubtedly the highest on the hit list, the forefront of the fatwas, of every hypersensitive but well-armed Muslim radical on the planet.
As if publishing the name isn't enough, the AP then tells the world that they found Nakoula "outside Los Angeles." Yes, I realize that's a rather large area and not exactly like giving his street address, but do you think that makes Mr. Nakoula feel better?
But wait, there's more! The Washington Post (and presumably other papers) later in the day named his home town as Cerritos, California. And as if that's not enough, we learn that at Nakoula's property, "county authorities were present because roughly two dozen reporters and film crews were waiting to interview Nakoula."
It is exceedingly likely that the Nakoula family will never be able to inhabit that home again… and that the people who live there next might always live in fear. (I wonder how much that will damage the Nakoula's selling price for the home.)
I stipulate that the AP already seemed on Mr. Nakoula's trail, having traced a phone number used by "Sam Bacile" to Nakoula's address.
I admit that Nakoula clearly knew that he would be taking a risk by making and releasing this film, despite it appearing more like a bad Monty Python production than serious social critique.
And I agree that Mr. Nakoula, at least based on his history as reported by the AP, is not a model citizen. In 2010, he was sentenced to 21 months in jail and ordered to pay $794,700 in restitution for committing bank fraud.
We don't know whether Mr. Nakoula is an American citizen either, though one would expect his criminal sentence to include mention of deportation if he were not. The UK's Daily Mail reports that "Last year, he was stripped of Egyptian citizenship after he called on the US to intervene in the country to protect its Christians."
But none of this, not the likelihood of a reporter determining that Nakoula and Bacile are one and the same, not Nakoula's unsavory past, and not whatever his citizenship status might be can justify a federal agent outing him to the world.
This employee of the federal government has put a target on a man's back. And while we will likely never know the name of this "law enforcement official," any real Department of Justice would go to great lengths to figure out his identity, fire him, and give his name to the public -- not that such an action would put that reprehensible, shameful character at nearly the risk to which he has exposed Mr. Nakoula.
Other reporters have joined the hunt, with the Daily Mail reporting details such as a neighbor saying that Nakoula "lives inside the home with his wife and their three children -- a boy and a girl who are at California colleges -- and a 14-year-old son."
So now a would-be jihadi murderer knows to go look for young adults named Nakoula -- and with "Egyptian (first) names" -- at California colleges, or a 14-year old at a Cerritos junior high school.
In the same news report, a family friend said "it is the right name but the wrong family." Imagine if that is correct…but if a deranged Muslim, like the killer of Theo Van Gogh, decides that it's his target of choice. It's not as if most of that crowd is attending their intelligence briefings either.
In any case, that family, whether it's the right one or not, now has police protection, which might not have been necessary had a U.S. government agent not made a target of them, and of everyone in the Los Angeles area who shares that last name.
Each of these news stories seems intent on talking primarily about the filmmaker, secondarily about the "inflammatory movie," third about Coptic Christians, and not at all about the murder and mayhem being perpetrated against American people and American sovereign territory across the Arab world.
It is one thing for media outlets to work as propaganda arms of the Obama administration, throwing up the Nakoula straw man to distract from this government's feckless and dangerous foreign policy. It is an even worse thing for them to name the filmmaker's town and all but give his address.
But all of that pales in comparison to a federal agent naming a man who is without a doubt the most hated person among the most violent factions on the planet today.
If anything happens to Mr. Nakoula (and despite the ridiculousness of his film and his prior bad acts, I certainly hope nothing does) and even more so if anything happens to a member of his family or an unrelated person who happens to share his last name, the federal agent who gave him up to the press should be charged with depraved indifference and recklessness, and serve the same sentence as if he committed the violent act himself. And even that would be too good for him.