Senator Lieberman Tries Hunting Down Terrorist Videos On YouTube

from the easier-than-finding-real-terrorists dept

Folks in Congress sure are scared of any kind of popular new internet application being used by terrorists — quite often blaming the technology rather than looking for ways to use it to their advantage. They’ve targeted file sharing networks, Second Life and the whole internet as being terrorist havens. Now, Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Committee on Homeland Security is upset with Google for letting terrorists post videos on YouTube. Last week he sent a note asking them to take all of the videos down. YouTube employees went through the videos and took down the ones that violated the site’s terms of service, but left most of them up, as they neither showed violence nor promoted hate speech. Lieberman is not too happy about this and has sent a second letter, asking that the videos be taken down.

This seems particularly silly for a variety of reasons. First off, it’s most likely that these types of videos are preaching to the choir. It’s hard to see too many folks watching some poorly produced al-Qaeda propaganda videos and suddenly deciding to join up. But, more importantly, by leaving these videos out in the open, it allows lots of folks to respond to them, criticize them and show them up for the awful propaganda they represent. In other words, why be scared of these videos when you can actually respond? Trying to force them offline suggests that we don’t think we can win the argument (and even helps to legitimize those who put up the videos). If these videos are promoting ignorant propaganda, the best response is to rebut, refute or even ridicule them — not bury them. Finally, leaving the videos up gives the government an excellent way to track what the groups are doing, rather than having their actions hidden away on other sites. If they got taken offline by Google/YouTube it would be a matter of minutes before they showed up on other sites where it might even be more difficult for US officials to track them and see what messages terrorists are spreading. Weren’t we fighting against terrorists to stand up for principles like free speech and the belief that speech can be a weapon against propaganda?

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Comments on “Senator Lieberman Tries Hunting Down Terrorist Videos On YouTube”

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Jake says:

YouTube’s usual passive-aggressive attitude to this kind of thing pisses me off intensely, but I have to say they’re in the right here. It’s one thing to demand of them that they proactively enforce their terms of service and take reasonable precautions against the site being used for criminal purposes, but quite another to expect them to uphold some arbitrary moral standard that has no basis in law.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Social Responsibility

He means that they have a social responsibility to protect every posters freedom of speech.

If these videos don’t have anything violating the terms of service than they should never take them down. If we take down these propaganda films than we must take down all of the election videos since they are all propaganda as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Any such video should be taken down

“…First off, it’s most likely that these types of videos are preaching to the choir. It’s hard to see too many folks watching some poorly produced al-Qaeda propaganda videos and suddenly deciding to join up…”

On the contrary – these videos have a pretty good “recruitment” rate as far as these terrorist groups are concerned. Even if one person out of a 100 saw a video and decided to join, thats one more terrorist who is capable of killing soliders.

Why you would minimize this fact is bewildering and staggering.

The theme of such videos are clear and they serve only one purpose. Consequently, they should be removed and Google and other sites really need to pay more attention to these videos and/or modify their posting policies.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Any such video should be taken down

1% ?? You kidding? Show me any credible source that indicates even 1/1000th that success in “converting” people.

If you are really that concerned, come up with an equally valid and compelling response video. If someone is able to be “converted” and you have compelling reasons for them to not be converted, then post away!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Any such video should be taken down

Please re-read my original post – I was not stating any such fact, rather merely proposing a hypothetical statistic. It is well established that terrorist groups use recruitment videos for a reason – they work. Even if 1 out of 10,0000 people are recruited, it still is 1 more terrorist fighting.

I feel you are missing the point – these videos do have influence over a certain number and type of person. The research is freely available on the internet. Search for it.

Noah Callaway says:

Re: Re: Re: Any such video should be taken down

Your “1 more terrorist” logic pains me. It cuts very deep because it is the exact kind of thinking that’s so insidiously assails freedom. The quote above by Benjamin Franklin comes to mind here.

If defending freedom means slowly removing it at home, then we’ve already lost before we started fighting. So, no, leave the damn videos online. Let’s practice what we preach, if we’re going to violently take our preachings to other corners of the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Any such video should be taken down

“One more terrorist is not that many. How many people do you think are recruited to the army, navy, or airforce compared to this one more terrorist?”

Your comment accurately reflects the naivity of the U.S. and its citizens.

Obviously, you arent aware of all the troubles our armed forces have had in recruiting new soldiers. Its been pretty big news for a while now. If you were aware of this, then your comment is just plain idiotic and again reflects the naivity of many posters here.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Any such video should be taken down

You know, other countries think that we’re terrorists. They live in fear of the US military coming and bombing thier asses without warning. So should we take down all pro-American videos also?

It’s so discouraging to see American citizens want to deny free expression to others.

Brian says:

Terrorist videos

The kind of people who are going to be swayed into joining a terrorist group because of a couple of YouTube videos are going to be influenced just as much by the news headlines discussing the US war on terror – such as the recent one about the sniper using the Quran for target practice. Would you ban those headlines as well?

Putting additional restrictions on freedom of speech seems like a pretty severe step to take to keep a few terrorist-leaning individuals from seeing some potentially influential propaganda. I’d much rather have these videos out in the open so that we can as a society try to understand the reasoning of those with anti-American sentiments and try to address them. Sending them underground might make us all feel a little safer, but I suspect the marginal individuals who might be interested in this material are still going to hear it. The only difference is that all this will be going on in the shadows, where none of us will see what is going on or have a chance to provide an opposing viewpoint.

james (profile) says:


Welcome to the birth of socialist america. Orson Wells was right when he said “all pigs are created equal, some are just more equal than others”. Take down, put up, complain, yet you just generate hot air to fuel the fire. Add a little closed minded, poisonous talk-and you have a mighty bonfire from which you can light your torches, and sharpen your pitchforks to go door to door, and root out everyone that you disagree with. Let the witch burnings begin again because they are just a tad bit different, and hell they don’t even believe in what you believe in.

Melvillain says:

Essential Liberty vs. Temporary Safety

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

I don’t understand what people think that this would accomplish. Terrorists have always been a part of society, taking down YouTube videos isn’t going to stop them from doing what they are doing. If you take down the videos all you’re doing is limiting free speech. Even terrorists deserve free speech until they’ve actually done something illegal. You only deserve to have your rights taken from you if you’ve committed a crime not before. There is no pre-cog method of stopping terrorists, all it does is allow the government to control information “for our safety”. 85% of China’s citizens believe the internet should be regulated to protect them, how many Americans would agree with this to stop terrorism? Food for thought.

Wolfy says:

This is off topic, and I apologise in advance.

Lieberman should be registered as an agent of a foreign government. He is more interested in providing aid for isreal and isrealis, than he is in helping anyone in this country. I once swore an oath to protect this country from all enemies both foreign and domestic. He falls into both categories!

Anonymous Coward says:

This seems a little like criminals posting videos of there crimes… sure makes it easier to prosecute them….

Although i was about to go support our troops and buy a ford truck before i saw one of the videos, now im shipping out to Iraq to fight the american pig dogs. if only i haddent seen that video i would be one less terrorist. oh well!

Brian says:


But again, does this research indicate that a YouTube video is going to more successfully recruit a would-be terrorist than word of mouth or unfavorable news headlines? Lieberman is attacking YouTube as if these videos are much more effective as creating people who want to kill us. I just don’t buy it.

These videos give us a window into the minds of those who want to hurt us. They are valuable in this way. And removing them is unlikely to reduce the threat against us. The people searching your “terroist videos” on YouTube are going to be searching for similar materials on the rest of the internet.

We aren’t any safer by removing these videos – perhaps we are less safe because we can’t respond or offer a new viewpoint to these impressionable individuals. This is a case where we are giving up freedoms for the illusion of security. It’s a sucker deal.

fat Tony says:

How did they magically get on the internet

The videos, regardless of quality or content, didn’t just magic their merry way onto the internet.
Sure it was easy to get them there…but there was also, most likely, a trail. Said trail could turn searching for terrorists into “Shock and Awe”.
Plenty has been said about restricting freedom of speech. No reason to limit anyone’s. Say whatever you want…know that some words have consequences attached to saying them.
Such as a black eye for saying someone’s wife is fat…

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: How did they magically get on the internet

“Such as a black eye for saying someone’s wife is fat…”

And an assault charge for the guy who gave the black eye.

Just like the “fuck the troops” bumper sticker mentioned earlier, one cannot physically attack another because of what one says. If you punch out the bumper sticker guy or the guy who called your wife fat, who is going to jail?

We cannot and should not punish someone for what they say.

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

Re: Re: How did they magically get on the internet

>”Such as a black eye for saying someone’s wife is fat…”

>And an assault charge for the guy who gave the black eye.

Yeah that is inviting the Streisand Effect. Are you dumb enough to press charges when you deserve the black eye? Some how I doubt a DA would even waste his time on it.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: How did they magically get on the internet

You’re wife is fat. Bring it on.

But, seriously. If someone is dumb enough to have “fuck the troops” on his car, do you think he/she is smart enough to avoid fighting it? I know a few people who think that way and they will be the ones throwing punches if you just say their bumper sticker is wrong.

PS: I support our troops. I support them coming home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Personally I think that any “terrorist” recruited via youtube would be the laughing stock of their peers. Hell, surely using youtube as your latest, up to date source on random psuedo islamic hate speech is going to make you sound childish.

“Did you hear that America has been forcing Islamic prisoners to eat pork?”
“No! Where did you hear that!”
“On youtube.”
“Hahaha. You tit.”

Freedom says:

Lieberman...there goes another one!

Oh well, there goes another politician that I used to like. I really had appreciated how he stood up to his own party and tended to vote what he thought was right. (Just scared now at what he thinks is right!)

It amazes me how our leaders are so willing to trash the right of free speech. It isn’t there to protect speech you like, but speech you don’t. Take the emotion out of it and be objective.

I’ll bet that anyone that thinks YouTube should take the videos offline also believes that we should have a flag burning amendment – both emotional issues and the major steps to losing our rights of free speech.


anti-inertia says:

Ignorance is NOT bliss

I hate to be redundant, but I must repeat my comments on this with another news source.

Our foreign policy is the issue. And it’s not just about invasion and occupation of Muslim countries, but also about playing cop in the Muslim World as a whole. Couple that with support for their corrupt leaders, and a running (of what seems to be a limitless) tab for Israel and we will never cease to have hatred aimed at our way of life, our land, at our very existence.

Not many know that we give more to Israel than we do the rest of the World combined. We give them more than the per capita of Spain. And for what? In the decades that have passed, what has it gained us, the region over there and/or the whole notion of “peace” in the Middle East? NADA. ZELCH. NOTHING. We need to simply bud out.

I don’t want to make this about Israel, it’s not. It’s about our support of what seems to be in constant opposite to all that is Muslims and Islam.

Unfortunately, it’s all fueled by ignorance. Ignorance of a religion that is forced, I believe, to react in a manner against its very nature. Deep down, Islam is one of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims MUST believe in Jesus , Moses, Noah, Abraham, etc. Muslims MUST (as an article of faith) believe in the Bible, the Torah, and all the other “books” that have proceeded them. Muslims believe in the immaculate conception, the honor of Mary and her family, the split of the sea by Moses, amongst many other things.

I don’t want to make this about Muslims either. It’s about narrow minded politics-driven individuals with biases like Lieberman. I wonder what country he leans towards? Hmmmm!

What he’s proposing, ultimately, is a violation to our civil rights. Rights we’ve already had violated with the Patriot Act.

It’s simple. We have a deficit. We have needs within this country. Spend the money here. Fix my social security. Offer subsidized benefits. Take care of our growing baby boomers and elders. Invest in our education. I’m not saying don’t protect our land & borders, but protection does not mean invasion, interference, etc.

We have people outside of our country dying with bullets that have our name on them! Let me kill your children, in front of you, with everything made in (let’s say) Brazil and see how you feel about that country after time. It’s only a matter of time, I bet, before you’re acting in a worse manner than most would expect of you.

Stop and look at what Lieberman has supported in the past.

Sean says:

I just want to point out the irony here. We are saying this should be taken down because it flies in the face of our ideals and has the possibility to offend us – we criticize others for being so ignorant and closed-minded.

And 8:38 Anonymous Coward, you can’t even begin to speak of recruitment rates from videos, you know nothing of them and are trying to argue against something completely irrelevant to what others are.

YouTube should keep them up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dont be so Naive Sean

How do you know I know nothing about these videos? You have no idea what I do for a living so dont be presumptious (hint: my job involves research)

If have any free time in your o’so busy life, try doing a little research review online – you may be surpised at what you find.

As for it being irrelevant – now you are just being dumb. It is completely relevant. Carefully re-read the original article and some of the underlying posts – it should make sense to any educated American that my earlier post is indeed relevant.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

"Do The Research"

To #47, I’m not taking a position on your argument with poster #46, but I will take an issue with something you have said in two of your posts:

“If have any free time in your o’so busy life, try doing a little research review online – you may be surprised at what you find.”

I see this on boards occasionally, and it always galls me.

Telling others to “do a little research” leaves you with a totally vacuous argument. If you want to argue, then YOU do the research. Post a couple of links, cite a few stats, identify a couple of sources. If you are too lazy to do the research to support your point of view, then why the heck would anyone else?

Further, if 1,000 people are reading these comments, should we all “do the research” to figure out your argument, or would it be more efficient for you to post a link for us?

My request, which you will surely deny: Either make your point without needing research, or show the research.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Do The Research"

Why should I have to provide you with any such links? The fact remains, that you, as well as others, HAVE NOT DONE ANY RESEARCH and yet make all these bogus claims. I can use your arguement against you.

But if you are too lazy to educate yourself on matters you do not understand, before making any posts, here’s a little something that should quiet you down:

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