Freelancing Faulkner presents a problem for Obama

Tempting as it is to dismiss Gary Brooks Faulkner as a kooky fanatic with a kind of strange messianic complex, he’s just not that easily dismissed.

Faulkner is the Greeley man who decided to take matters into his own hands and march into Pakistan to take out Osama bin Laden.

It might or might not have occurred to Faulkner that Jack Ruby didn’t exactly shuffle off this mortal coil with the cheers of a grateful nation echoing in his ears, even though he dispatched Lee Harvey Oswald to the great beyond, and in front of a bunch of Dallas cops, to boot.

Still, there are worse reasons to head for the hills of Pakistan than to send bin Laden on his merry cosmic way. No doubt many other Americans have harbored similar aspirations and done nothing with them, preferring to leave the job to the people assigned the task.

Which brings us back to Faulkner.

Taken in a larger context, Faulkner’s actions make a certain sense.

It has been nearly nine years since Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks of Sept. 11 on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. The plan also called for attacks on either the White House or Capitol building but some very brave folks aboard United Airlines Flight 93 foiled that effort. Since then, much has happened around the world, but the one thing that has not, is the delivery of bin Laden’s head.

That is what Faulkner set out to accomplish, armed with a sword, night-vision goggles, handgun, Christian literature and, somewhat unaccountably, a bit of hashish.

Faulkner was most recently described as being in good spirits while in the custody of Pakistani authorities, who at first found a fair amount of humor in his plans to sally forth into the wilds of the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Then the cops who chased him down decided Faulkner was serious, so they took him into custody.

Now that his cover has been blown, it seems unlikely that Faulkner will be able to move further ahead with his plan, but it’s not clear exactly the grounds on which he’s being held in Pakistan.

Hunting without a license is one possibility, but exceeding the bag limit is probably not an issue.

What is an issue is Faulkner’s legal status in the United States.

While he seems not to have run directly afoul of the Logan Act, which prohibits American citizens from freelancing foreign policy with other governments, there’s no doubt that Faulkner was nonetheless working outside the normal arms of American policy.

That places him in good company, of course, with the likes of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who freelanced with the Soviets, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who freelances with anyone, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, known for freelancing with Syrian dictators in league with North Korean dictators, and the list goes on.

If the Obama administration can retrieve Faulkner from the Pakistanis, and there are substantial questions as to whether it wants to and whether it can, given the fact that the Pakistani authorities might believe they are holding something of value, then it will have to confront the question — What to do with Gary Faulkner?

He could be charged with something and tried, but that involves the risk of acquittal. Given the facts, an exoneration would amount to jury nullification, which doesn’t bode well for the administration’s ability enforce the laws of the land.

To simply hand Faulkner a pass, much as has happened with the aforementioned cases, sends an equally wrong message about international freelancing and vigilantism.

Of course, the true risk is that an undissuaded Faulkner, or someone like him, might get the job done, and then what?


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