Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Holy Joe Loses It In Public

Senator Joe Lieberman can't figure out what bothers him more--what's on television, what's going on with Bill Clinton's sex life, who's critisizing John McCain or what's on YouTube:

Searches on YouTube return dozens of videos branded with an icon or logo identifying the videos as the work of one of these Islamist terrorist organizations. A great majority of these videos document horrific attacks on American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others provide weapons training, speeches by al-Qaeda leadership, and general material intended to radicalize potential recruits.

In other words, Islamist terrorist organizations use YouTube to disseminate their propaganda, enlist followers, and provide weapons training – activities that are all essential to terrorist activity. According to testimony received by our Committee, the online content produced by al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist organizations can play a significant role in the process of radicalization, the end point of which is the planning and execution of a terrorist attack. YouTube also, unwittingly, permits Islamist terrorist groups to maintain an active, pervasive, and amplified voice, despite military setbacks or successful operations by the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Google told Lieberman to stuff it:

Last week, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) contacted us to voice his concerns about seeing videos from several Islamic terrorist organizations on YouTube. We appreciated our dialogue with Senator Lieberman and his staff and wanted to explain to the YouTube community how we responded to his concerns.

First, some background: hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. Because it is not possible to pre-screen this much content, we have developed an innovative and reliable community policing system that involves our users in helping us enforce YouTube's standards. Millions of users report potential violations of our Community Guidelines by selecting the "Flag" link while watching videos.

Senator Lieberman's staff identified numerous videos that they believed violated YouTube's Community Guidelines. In response to his concerns, we examined and ended up removing a number of videos from the site, primarily because they depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech. Most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.

Senator Lieberman stated his belief, in a letter sent today, that all videos mentioning or featuring these groups should be removed from YouTube -- even legal nonviolent or non-hate speech videos. While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds. Of course, users are always free to express their disagreement with a particular video on the site, by leaving comments or their own response video. That debate is healthy.

We appreciate Senator Lieberman alerting us to videos that violated our policies -- and encourage our users to continue to do the same through the flagging tool. And while we disagree with him about the details of our policies, we respect his views and thank him for giving us the chance to respond to his concerns.

Senator Lieberman doesn't have to go on the Internet to find this kind of thing--he just needs to go next door, to Fairfax County, Virginia and attend a few classes at the Islamic Saudi Academy:

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan federal agency with a mandate to recommend policies that promote religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy, has recommended that the Secretary of State open diplomatic talks with the Saudi government in order to obtain official Saudi textbooks used at the government-run Islamic Saudi Academy outside Washington. The Academy should be closed until the official Saudi textbooks used at the school are made available for comprehensive public examination and are found to be consistent with Saudi government commitments to revise them to remove intolerant and violent references.


Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States. In December 2003, a former Saudi judge and Saudi journalist presented a study on the state religious curricula in boy's schools in Saudi Arabia at the second National Dialogue forum on religious extremism and moderation. The study found that the approach used in the texts "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the ‘other'." They cited examples found in the textbooks, such as "the blood and property of the polytheists are permitted" and "there is no prohibition on spilling their [polytheists] blood." Furthermore, one scholar who examined "revised" state religious textbooks concluded that "there are passages in the various Tawhid editions stating that the blood and property of polytheists may be taken by Muslims, and these passages have been contextualized but not removed...What remains then, is a principle of behavior sanctioning the murder of those with whom one disagrees."

Moreover, a 2006 report analyzing some Saudi textbooks from the 2005-2006 school year found that "a ninth grade Saudi textbook on Hadith teaches teenagers in apocalyptic terms that violence towards Jews, Christians and other unbelievers is sanctioned by God." For example, the textbook reads, "the hour [of judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them." Another example taken from a twelfth grade textbook reads, "Jihad in the path of God - which consists of battling [Arabic, qital] against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it - is the summit of Islam." The study concludes that "while, as the text explains, one of the meanings of jihad is self-perfection or ‘wrestling with the spirit', it acknowledges a more militant meaning as well." This state-driven disregard for freedom of religion not only violates international human rights standards, but also serves to embolden radical Islamists who seek to perpetuate acts of terrorism and other violence on Americans and others around the world.

I can find no record of Senator Joe Lieberman commenting on the initial finding in October, 2007, nor can I find any instance where he called a hearing to investigate whether or not the State Department was doing anything about this issue. Time and time again, Republicans and their enablers with links to the Bush Administration talk tough about terrorism--as in, making scurrilous comparisons to the Nazis and using terms like appeasement--but when confronted with the fact that Saudi Arabia is responsible for perpetrating anti-Semitism and anti-American rhetoric, they fall silent. They do nothing.

I can't find any criticism from him of the fact that this same school has been used to train US troops to speak Arabic:

Twenty two soldiers from Fort Belvoir now have a working knowledge of the Arabic language as well as a better understanding of Middle Eastern culture. And, they have the certificates to prove it.

On April 16 they became the second contingent of Fort Belvoir military personnel to graduate from the Islamic Saudi Academy's "Arabic as a Second Language." For the past 10 Saturday mornings they have been voluntarily enrolled in the course taught by Dr. Ibrahim Sakaji, chairperson of the school's Arabic as a Second Language Department.

Nor can I find a single instance where he spoke out in favor of this resolution, in the House, or attempted to sponsor the resolution in the Senate:

At least one congressman hopes to force the State Department to get moving. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said he will introduce legislation to require the State Department to begin within 90 days of the law's enactment the process of getting the documents and reporting back findings to Congress another 90 days later.

It was not clear Thursday if there would be any specific consequences in the bill should the State Department fail to meet the requirements.

The legislation may be unnecessary, said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., suggesting that despite his concerns over Saudi efforts to spread the Wahabbi brand of Islam, which Wolf and a number of critics call "extremist," he thinks the U.S.-Saudi relationship will prevail.

"My sense is that reasonable people will get to the bottom of this," said Wolf, a co-author of the bill that started the commission during the Clinton administration.

Wolf said that if the ISA does have textbooks that promote hate against Jews, Christians or Muslims, "it is unacceptable."

We made that easy for Senator Lieberman--we went to Fox News to get that story. We're not the only ones who want to find out what is really going on at that school. We do not advocate censorship or closing the school--we want to know what they are teaching and whether that is consistent with committing a hate crime that wouldn't be tolerated anywhere, under any circumstances, regardless of whether or not the school has ties to a US ally that won't help us in our time of need. Obviously, someone on his staff must have seen it. It's ironic that he wants to censor YouTube for showing videos, but he is, apparently, clueless to the fact that a school funded by the government of Saudi Arabia is operating in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is essentially teaching what is in those videos.

The people who talk the toughest are usually just all talk--and weak on defending America.

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