There are news reports that Rev. Terry Jones has called off his constitutionally protected and utterly perverse plan to burn the Koran, in exchange for Imam Rauf's agreement to move the Gound Zero Mosque. Some later reports cast doubt on this, so at this stage, it cannot be said with assurance whether the Koran burning will go forward.
Lost in these developments is another, quite troubling story. This is the first line in an AP report filed six hours ago:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- FBI agents visited Thursday with a minister of a small Florida church that plans to burn the Quran on Sept. 11, as public safety became a paramount concern and President Barack Obama added his voice to the chorus of opposition.
The wording of this report suggests that the FBI is there to protect public safety. Having been an attorney with the Justice Department for many years, I do not see how that can be the case. There may well be public safety concerns (which I guess is a euphemism for the threat of violent retaliation against the Koran burning), but that is the concern of state and local police, not the FBI. There is no visible nexus whatever for FBI involvement. So what gives?
Two days ago I observed here:
It's true that Holder is not threatening to punish Jones. But in the First Amendment context, creating a chill is the next "best" thing to an overt threat of punishment. I have not objected to any other officer of the government calling Jones an idiot, including Gen. Patraeus and Sec. Clinton. But they can't send in the FBI...Holder can.
It may be pure coincidence that Jones called this thing off very shortly after the FBI came calling. For the sake of the Republic, I sure hope it is.