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Open Letter to Rep. Jane Harman Re: Terrorism & the Internet

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reprehensor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:50 PM
Original message
Open Letter to Rep. Jane Harman Re: Terrorism & the Internet
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 02:54 PM by reprehensor
November 16, 2007

U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security
176 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Att: Jane Harman, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.


Dear Jane Harman,

As Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment (Committee on Homeland Security) I want to bring to your attention what appears to me a troubling tendency by two of the witnesses that testified at the November 6, 2007 Hearing, Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism. I hereby submit this open letter to you, cc'ed to the Subcommittee.

The tone of the Hearing established by the opening remarks from you, Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Reichert, was fair enough, with a well-meaning focus on extremist radicalization. Terrorism is a horrible tactic, no matter who is employing the slaughter of innocent people to enable a radical agenda.

However, in the statement by Mr. Bruce Hoffman, things quickly go off-track.

You are a long-time associate of Mr. Hoffman, (as you note in your introduction of Hoffman at the hearing), dating back to his employment with the RAND Corporation. It's kind of interesting how that works. RAND specializes in studies of issues of interest to the U.S. Government, including a bunch of studies on terrorism. Now, as an objective analyst of terrorism-related issues, Mr. Hoffman testifies to the House on the need for more study of terrorism-related issues.

I hope that you take the following statement from Mr. Hoffman to heart;

Defeating al Qaeda suggests first and foremost that our assessments and analyses must be anchored firmly to sound empirical judgment and not blinded by conjecture, mirror-imaging, politically partisan prisms and wishful thinking.


However, this statement by Mr. Hoffman does not appear to reflect his own advice;

"The Internet, once seen as an engine of education and enlightenment, has instead become an immensely useful vehicle for terrorists with which to peddle their baseless propaganda and manifold conspiracy theories and summon their followers to violence.


Hoffman begins like the Hearing did, clearly focused on how violent radicals use communication portals like the internet to spread their message... but then he drifts off into conjecture about "manifold conspiracy theories".

I want to suggest that there is no empirical evidence which proves that "manifold conspiracy theories" trigger violent radicalization, that tying conspiracy theories to a serious study of the roots of terrorism during House testimony is conjecture, and doubly, wishful thinking.

His blanket statement about the internet is too broad and not generally true. The internet is still "an engine of education and enlightenment", despite its abuse by those who call for violence.

I hope that you can remain objective when evaluating Mr. Hoffman's testimony, despite your prior associations with him.

Even more egregious, however, is the testimony of Mr. Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Weitzman's testimony also begins on-track, focused on violent radicalization and its perpetuation via the internet.

Unfortunately, Weitzman riots in tact and in fact when he also decides to stroll down "conspiracy theory" lane. During Weitzman's PowerPoint presentation to the Hearing, he presents a series of websites that purport to have content that instructs visitors how to conduct acts of terror, and talks of individuals affected by these sites.

I urge your staff to closely examine the sites that were presented by Mr. Weitzman, to see if his claims are true and accurate. I do this because once Mr. Weitzman goes off the beaten path, he is quickly out of his depths, and presents websites that bear no relation to his claims.

Weitzman says;

To illustrate the trends described above, we have put together a short PowerPoint demonstration. Without going into deep detail in these written remarks, I would like to offer some brief descriptions of the material that will be shown. The presentation begins with a look at how 9/11 is viewed in some eyes online, including those who applauded it as well as some conspiracies sites. The presence of the conspiracy site is significant, since so much of what passes as fact online is actually based on some form of conspiracy. These are often built around the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which allege Jewish control of the world, or around presenting the United States government as being engaged in various conspiracies or cover-ups, or ultimately having the entire Western world engaged in a vast, multi-layered conspiracy against the Islamic world.


Among the websites shown by Weitzman to "illustrate the trends decribed above", (presumably he means: racism - domestic extremism - radical Islam), he throws in the website Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

I visited the website in question to attempt to verify Weitzman's claims. ae911truth.org is not "built around the Protocols of the Elders of Zion", does not "allege Jewish control of the world", and does not accuse "the United States government as being engaged in various conspiracies or cover-ups, or ultimately having the entire Western world engaged in a vast, multi-layered conspiracy against the Islamic world."

Here is what the site is about, clearly placed in the "About Us" section of the website;

http://www.ae911truth.org/aboutus.php

We are a non-partisan association of Architects, Engineers, and affiliates, who are dedicated to exposing the falsehoods and to revealing truths about the collapses of the WTC high-rises on 9/11/01.

We call upon Congress for a truly independent investigation with subpoena power. We believe that there may be sufficient evidence to conclude that the World Trade Center buildings #1 (North Tower), #2 (South Tower), and #7 (the 47 story high-rise across Vessey St.) were destroyed not by jet impact and fires but by controlled demolition with explosives.

We believe that this website, as well as the other referenced sites, contains the information necessary to demonstrate to all with an open mind that this is the case, and that such an investigation is warranted and overdue. We believe that the available relevant evidence casts grave doubt on the government's official story of these collapses.

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth are encouraged to take an active role by reporting the results of their research on 9/11 by means of lectures, articles, and methods of disseminating the truth about the 9/11 WTC building collapses.


It appears to me that this group, whose core members are mostly architectural professionals are not terrorists, racists, or "conspiracy theorists". They present evidence that when looked at in an empirical manner, "not blinded by conjecture, mirror-imaging, politically partisan prisms and wishful thinking", an objective observer will conclude that they should join them in a call for a new investigation into the collapses of the World Trade Center.

I hope that there is some objectivity at play in these Hearings, and that testimony is carefully evaluated, and sorted.


Thank you,

(signed copy to Commission)

cc. Norman D. Dicks, James R. Langevin, Christopher P. Carney, Ed Perlmutter, Bennie G. Thompson, David G. Reichert, Christopher Shays, Charles W. Dent, Peter T. King

----------------------------------------------

Testimony and prepared statements for the hearing;
http://homeland.house.gov/hearings/index.asp?ID=102

Video stream at C-SPAN;
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/index.php?main_pa...

----------------------------------------------

EDIT: Yes, this is MY open letter.

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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. This has to be said. K*R (back later to respond but outstanding letter
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Sheila Samples Donating Member (264 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:58 PM
Response to Original message
2. To Reprehensor
This is (as O.J. once said) absolutely, positively brilliant! The goal here is not to ward off impending terrorist attacks, but to shut down any reasoned debate about what happened on 9-11, thus exercising control of Internet content. Gatekeepers are walking shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the Internet, refusing to post anything that varies from the official "conspiracy." Most of these gatekeepers are progressive, or liberal, sites.

I have just completed Al Gore's remarkable new book, "The Assault on Reason," and I can assure you if Gore decides to run, he will win. And when he does, one of the first things he will do is appoint an independent investigator to bring the truth of that ghastly day to light. He addresses it in the book, which should be required reading for every American.

Should you get a response to your letter, I hope you will post it for all to read. Or -- I can post it now -- lessee...."Thank you for your concern. We share that concern, and blah...blah...blah...sincerely yours...

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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 09:00 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R. (nt)
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The Doctor. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. Did you send it already?
Please let me know.

Thank you,

Dr. E
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Spazito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. Excellent, excellent letter!
Recommended.
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AntiFascist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
6. K&R, so that's what this is about!

Apparently ae911truth is being targeted because of the story that was floating around about Israeli agents posing as art dealers who may have had access to the Twin Towers and somehow installed explosives. There may be documented evidence that Mossad agents were shadowing some of the 9-11 hijackers, but how this got morphed into the "Jewish Elf" WTC theory is beyond me. Far more telling is the fact that a Kuwaiti-backed firm was in control of WTC security. If this could be pointed out to Rep. Harman it may help enlighten her a bit.

As far as I know, the ae911truth group is not promoting any politically-based conspiracy theories, they are simply investigating the possible use of explosives, as is the NIST, btw.
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #6
13. Methinks *someone* is hearing footsteps n/t
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EVDebs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 12:40 AM
Response to Original message
7. The FBI apparently still thinks owners of Almanacs are terrorists too. nt
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bbgrunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 01:20 AM
Response to Original message
8. K R--great letter.
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 02:08 AM
Response to Original message
9. k&r -- excellent! Jane Harman is a died-in-the-wool establishment Imperialist.
She's never seen a proposal to increase the power of the National Security State that she didn't think was just fine and dandy.

She truly ought to be replaced by a progressive as soon as possible.

sw
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noise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 02:28 AM
Response to Original message
10. Declassify the evidence
Is Harman aiding terrorist recruitment by refusing to declassify evidence? After all, the refusal to declassify evidence gives credibility to skeptics of the official account. Did the 9/11 Commission aid terrorist recruitment by refusing to do a thorough investigation? Their failure has surely increased terrorist recruiting. It seems an easy way to reduce terrorist recruiting would be to declassify all the evidence. Since the government has claimed their account is true then it follows the declassified evidence will dispel all the so called conspiracy theories. It doesn't say much for Harman's credibility when one considers the bizarre secrecy exhibited by the government as it concerns 9/11. Does she believe in representative democracy and transparent government?

Who is Ali Mohamed? Why did current AG Mukasey not help enforce the defense request in the Landmarks trial (Rahman case) to have him appear as a defense witness? Did the government protect an al Qaeda mole or was Ali Mohamed an asset of US intel? Harman is suggesting citizens should be careful with dissent lest they be accused of 'emboldening terrorists' yet the government seems to have facilitated al Qaeda terrorism by way of Ali Mohamed.

If the argument comes to down to who is doing the most to help terrorist recruiting then we would have to put government officials at the top of the list.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
11. Nominated.
Very good.
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
12. As usual, reprehensor is the voice of reason in a world populated...
by Neocon apologists on one side and Alex Jones extremists on the other.

Well done.
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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 10:15 AM
Response to Original message
14.  Good for you......and thanks! 20th K&R!! nt
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Mnemosyne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 12:39 PM
Response to Original message
15. Have to knr this! n/t
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HCE SuiGeneris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
16. Brilliantly stated. Thank you for this.
Big ass kick and recommend.
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Junkdrawer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
17. Kick
:kick:
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 05:38 PM
Response to Original message
18. Thank you, reprehensor!
We know their MO and SOP by now and so should jane harmon. I hope your letter gets the respect it deserves! There are others who need to read it, too, no doubt.

They want the internet for themselves..they scared outta their jack boots that true information is getting to too many peeps. Also, there's bucks to be made. We can't let them do it.
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
19. I Have already Seen One DUer Making the Same Charge
Edited on Sun Nov-18-07 06:10 PM by fascisthunter
The two sites mentioned in that discussion now come up in this post. The first person claimed ae911truth.org was aiding terrorism by spreading misinformation. Coincidence? There are some shady characters hanging around in that 911 dungeon. Claiming folks are aiding terrorism just to shut down debate.
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wildbilln864 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
20. kick! n/t
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 06:51 PM
Response to Original message
21. Kicked, too late to recommend.
Thanks for the thread, reprehensor. :thumbsup:
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-18-07 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
22. Deserves a Sunday evening kick... (nt)
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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:22 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. And a Monday morning kick too! n/t
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scarletwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. And, what the hell - a Monday evening kick. (nt)
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hootinholler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:49 AM
Response to Original message
24. Where's the clip of shrub sying we must not buy into the conspiracy theories about the WTC?
It was like 9/12 when he made that statement.

-Hoot
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JohnyCanuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-19-07 08:25 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Interesting that he has only made the one reference
(that I am aware of) warning the unwashed masses to steer clear of 9/11 "conspiracy theories." I'll bet that Karl whispered in his ear that the more he went on warning everyone not to believe conspiracy theories, the more people would have their curiosity piqued and start to investigate to see what exactly Dubya was so concerned about. I have seen it claimed by some 9/11 truthers that they got involved in the movement only after hearing some right wing, blowhard media personality going after the 9/11 truth movement on the air or in print, which only motivated them to investigate the issues to see what all the excitement was about and why so much venom was being directed at those asking questions about what really happened on 9/11. It is basic psychology. If Joe invites you over to his house and tells you you can have the run of the place, but there is one room that you must not go in because there is something dangerous in that room, it's going to automatically set you to wondering just what the hell is it in that room that Joe is so anxious about and doesn't want you to see. If Joe also has earned a reputation as being somewhat loose with the truth, and you know he has bullshitted you before with his nose stretchers, it might act as further motivation to try and find out just what is in that room that Joe wants to place off limits. So even if you don't directly go against Joe's wish and break into the room, you might try prying open a shutter on an outside window or peering through the keyhole to get a peak at what's inside.
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