Not Insanity; Strategy! Innocent Treated As Terrorist Financiers

One of the problems with horrible tragedies is that evil men get to do evil things while we are in shock and distracted. Thus, evil compounds evil.

On December 21 Techdirt posted a story that very few people seem to have picked up on, but which deserves attention. The Office of Foreign Assets Control seized most of the advance money paid to a couple of Americans for producing a comic book. They did so on the grounds that money sent to write the comic book was supporting a terrorist organization!

The script for the graphic novel was written by David Axe, an American journalist who had spent time in Africa covering the terrorist/criminal group, “The Lord’s Army,” and the leader, Kony. He wanted to present his information in comic book form and joined with an artist and a cartoonist. The content was published online and you can go read the “terrorism” for yourself. Public Affairs paid to publics a paper version.

The book is obviously not terrorism nor is it propaganda for terrorists. It is simply a graphic novel alerting people to Joseph Kony’s crimes. The Office of Foreign Assets Control took their advance money without any evidence but simply on the basis of the title of the book.

The Techdirt post expresses real frustration

“In the press release that Axe and Hamilton sent out about this, they were told that book's title, Army of God, ‘threw up a red flag.’ You would think that once that red flag went up, some bureaucrat somewhere would then have looked at the damn book and realized that it's not some terrorist conspiracy. I guess that's too much to ask.”

Techdirt filed this story under “insanity,” implying the government did not know what they were doing. I don’t think that is the right way to think about this absurd action on the part of the government. As much as it is tempting to blame everything the government does as senseless as stupid or insane.

But why assume the government is acting from ignorance? If it was mere incompetence then the government would make mistakes in our favor about half the time. I think a much more plausible hypothesis is that people in government occasionally experiment to see how much they can get away with. Can they classify these men as terrorists, take their money, and get away with it? The only way to measure if they are reaching the point of being able to classify and loot people at whim is to try it every once in awhile and see if they manage to get away with it. Will the media pay attention to the story? Will the victims get widespread sympathy or will they be ignored?

We cannot afford to be naïve about what our government is doing. Assuming they are always making mistakes because they are so stupid is a pathway to seriously underestimating their agenda. They did what they did because they wanted to do it, not because of some “accident.”

“Oops, we thought your book was an act of terrorism?” No way!

The government is trying to expand its power, and unless there is evidence to the contrary, we should assume these bureaucrats are competent and know exactly what they are doing.