Jun 19th 2008 By Howard Altman
If you haven't noticed, YouTube features much more troubling fare than old clips of "The Muppet Show" and comedy routines about the history of dance. Jihadi fighters regularly post deaths of U.S. soldiers, assassinations of civilians and other images intended to encourage violence against the West.
In late May, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn) called for Google to take down these videos that include incendiary speeches by al-Qaida leadership.
"Islamist terrorist organizations use YouTube to disseminate their propaganda, enlist followers, and provide weapons training," the senator wrote in a letter to Google. "YouTube also, unwittingly, permits Islamist terrorist groups to maintain an active, pervasive, and amplified voice."
Responding on the YouTube blog, the editors thanked the senator for alerting them to videos that violated their policies, but stopped short of removing videos that don't have violence or hate speech: "[R}ather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds."
YouTube may be the biggest site where pro-jihadi videos are posted, but it's far from the only one. For more than seven years, a small cadre of civilians, who often agree with Lieberman's stance, have taken it upon themselves to wage war on al-Qaida's hijacking of the information superhighway.
But many in the intelligence community say these amateur detectives -- who spend their time trying to offending sites shut down or go online pretending to be terrorists to capture the real ones -- are doing more to cause trouble than solve crimes.