How far does free speech go? I will admit that I am a big fan of the “free speech” provided by the internet. It certainly gives a platform to a voice that the mainstream media would never provide, given their liberal agenda. The question is where is that line between free speech and the internet equivalent of “yelling fire in a crowded theater?” I agree with Joe Liberman below, YouTube should take down the terrorism recruiting videos, but there should also be something done about the Terrorist Internet Jihad ESPECIALLY when they are hosted by US based businesses (see Corporate Creeps: American Web Hosts Supporting Terror):
By Joseph Lieberman
Wednesday, May 28th 2008, 4:00 AM
Close-range executions of hostages. Assassinations of U.S. soldiers through snipers’ cross hairs. American tanks blowing sky-high. These are some of the gruesome images that violent Islamist terror organizations like Al Qaeda use to recruit, train and indoctrinate impressionable young followers. They can also be accessed easily on YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing Web site.
An investigation by the staff of our Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs into the threat of homegrown terrorism inspired by violent Islamist extremism has found that the abundance of videos like these posted on the Internet has increased the likelihood that individuals within the United States will become radicalized and engage in terrorist acts.
For this reason, I have asked Google, the parent company of YouTube, to remove from its Web site videos designed to incite violence against America and Americans or that show graphic violence against American troops and others, in violation of YouTube’s own community guidelines.
YouTube removed 80 videos at my request but has refused to take down many more.
The use of the Internet by Islamist terrorists represents a marked change in the threat America faces from this hateful ideology. The threat no longer emanates only from abroad. The threat now comes from within our borders as well, from new followers who blindly adhere to terrorists’ perversion of the Islamic faith to incite attacks against the United States and who learn their trade through Web-posted videos that offer everything from extremist indoctrination to bomb-making instructions.
Our terrorist enemies have harnessed the power of the Internet as a force multiplier, rapidly distributing their propaganda around the world to inspire self-initiated attacks from abroad and within our country.
Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are able to use the Web toconnect directly to those who are more likely to succumb to their destructive ideology. Once this initial introduction has been made, the Internet facilitates and accelerates the entire radicalization process. New followers of the ideology use the Internet to seek out the like-minded, who join what violent Islamist groups prize as a growing online insurgency. Once fully indoctrinated, a follower of the ideology may take the final step – planning and execution of a homegrown terror attack, alone or with other Internet-inspired terrorists.
A strong intelligence and law enforcement response is necessary to prevent future attacks from outside the United States or from within, but more must also be done to counter the Internet propaganda that inspires attacks in the first place.
Here’s where Google and other Internet providers come in. Most of these videos of attacks against American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that serve to incite people to violence against all Americans are produced by groups the U.S. government has designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, such as Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda in Iraq. The videos are branded with a distinguishing logo that makes them easy to identify and therefore easy to remove.
Google’s defense is that it is protecting free speech. But, in my opinion, videos produced by terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda that are committed to attacking America and killing Americans are not protected by the First Amendment and should not be tolerated.
Google must begin by enforcing YouTube’s own community standards for posting videos – standards that disallow “graphic or gratuitous violence” or the posting of “videos showing … bomb making.” Furthermore, Google should change its policy to ban videos obviously produced by terrorist organizations.
The propaganda campaign being waged by Islamist terrorist organizations is integral to their war against us – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Europe and now here in the U.S. Google, whether it realizes it or not, has a role in that fight.
Lieberman, an Independent Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Connecticut.