Buried in a Los Angeles Times report is this nugget:
In a sign of the tensions the movie has sparked, Los Angeles County officials said the U.S. State Department had asked them not to release copies of the film permits containing information about who organized the shoot. Obama administration officials also flagged the trailer to YouTube and asked the company to review whether it violated the website’s terms of service.
Emphasis added. The media are already trying to spin this in a way that is entirely unconvincing. Here's MSNBC's Chuck Todd on twitter:
To clarify, the WH did not ask YouTube to pull the video; they asked YouTube to review the video to see if it violated their policies
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 14, 2012
This is a distinction without a difference. The intent here is clearly to censor the video. Put another way, what if the Obama administration started calling up book shops and asking them not to sell The Satanic Verses? Would that be alarming? Whenever the federal government makes a request like this, there's a great deal of implied intimidation. Especially for a company such as Google, which owns YouTube and is subject to such a regulatory morass that the Obama administration could easily make the company's life very difficult in the coming years.
Aside from this being an appalling attempt to undercut the First Amendment, it also vindicates Mitt Romney. If Romney was jumping the gun in condemning the Cairo embassy's statement, why is it that days later the Obama administration is trying to get the video removed? Mitt Romney appears to have been right to be concerned this administration would not support the First Amendment.