One of the things I'm going to talk about on the panel today is the addition of al-Manar, the satellite TV station of Lebanon-based Hezbollah to the Terrorist Exclusion List on December 17, 2004. The TEL limits immigration for foreigners associated with organizations on the list. This is not the worst of the various lists to be on, but according to Jack Shafer, they are the first media company to be added to this list. My understanding is that al-Manar represents the Hezbollah party in Lebanon. It is an official party with democratically elected politicians. While the content of al-Manar may be objectionable to many people, stifling the voice of a democratically elected party in a foreign country by calling them terrorists goes against the spirit of freedom of expression. The US constitution's First Amendment rights only cover Americans, but I believe that in a democracy the competition of ideas and free speech should combat beliefs that it does not agree with - more speech and debate, not censorship.

Another issue is the chilling effect that this has. Although talking about or talking to people from al-Manar might not land you on the Terrorist Exclusion List, it could easily land you on the no-fly or similar list and cause you to be perpetually harassed when traveling in the US. I imagine that people from al-Manar will have a very difficult time finding anyone to talk to or have lunch with. I feel a chill running down my spine just writing this post.

13 Comments

Well done Joi for highlighting this extraordinary issue. We hear a lot about supporting independent media and their importance in a democratic society, but the reality is that Al-Manar, Al-Jazeera and other independent media that do not support US policy are being harassed and targeted (in Al-Jazeera's case quite literally, in both Kabul and Baghdad).

For more info read "Unplugging Al-Manar" by Greg Moses in Alternet. You can also view excerpts from Al-Manar's broadcasts from the archives of LinkTV's program Mosaic before mid December.

Mosaic airs daily on US satellite TV, it excerpts news from various TV news shows in the Middle East, they used Al-Manar very frequently. Its a fascinating show, you get to see what people in the Middle East watch on their evening news. Sources range from Iranian state TV to Israeli news, with most being somewhere in the middle. Incidentally, I believe they are the first daily TV show to deliver themselves via RSS and the video files are hosted by archive.org.

A quick google search will show that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization who has planned and executed attacks against the United States, and one of their stated goals is the destruction of Israel.
From http://cfrterrorism.org/groups/hezbollah.html

Hezbollah and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of terrorist attacks against the United States, Israel, and other Western targets. These attacks include:
a series of kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon, including several Americans, in the 1980s;
the suicide truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983;
the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, which featured the famous footage of the plane’s pilot leaning out of the cockpit with a gun to his head;
and two major 1990s attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina—the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy (killing 29) and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (killing 95).

Now, I don't really know what Al-Manar's relationship is to Hezbollah, but I don't think that it is any stretch to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Thanks for the reality check, Brian!

Brian. Yes. Hezbollah are known to engage in terrorism, but they are trying to go "mainstream" right now by participating in elections. I think many people would argue that trying encourage groups to participate in a democracy is important.

However, my main point was that they put labelled the TV channel a terrorist organization. If we want to take the high ground, we need to protect democratic values of which freedom of expression is very important. I'm sure that people in the Middle East would argue that CNN incites violence and that the US news justfies the killing of civilians. (Bombing of Iraq.)

We need to be able to win the debate in the public without resorting to extreme methods of stifling speech. Just like torture and human rights violations in the name of "the war on terror" it is a slippery slope when you start to selectively ban voices. There costs to allowing free speech, but I believe the costs outweight the benefits and that the US needs to set the example.

Being democratically elected doesn't mean a lot - witness the 1933 elections in Germany. You can be elected and a terrorist simultaneously

A quick google search will show that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization who has planned and executed attacks against the United States, and one of their stated goals is the destruction of Israel. From http://cfrterrorism.org/groups/hezbollah.html


Hezbollah and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of terrorist attacks against the United States, Israel, and other Western targets. These attacks include:
a series of kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon, including several Americans, in the 1980s;
the suicide truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983;
the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, which featured the famous footage of the plane’s pilot leaning out of the cockpit with a gun to his head;
and two major 1990s attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina—the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy (killing 29) and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (killing 95).


Now, I don't really know what Al-Manar's relationship is to Hezbollah, but I don't think that it is any stretch to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

A quick google search will show that the United States is the only nation to have ever been accused of state terrorism by the UN, has planned and executed attacks against several sovereign nations, and one of their stated goals is is a terrorist organization who has planned and executed attacks against the United States, and one of their stated goals is the dominance and control of world resources through military strength:
http://www.newamericancentury.org/
http://zmagsite.zmag.org/Oct2003/burbach1003.html

The United States and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of attacks against Arabs, South Americans, Asians and other targets around the world. These attacks include:
The invasion of Iraq, a sovereign nation that never attacked the United States, leaving tens of thousands dead; the "bay of pigs" counterrevolutionary Cuban invasion, leaving many dead, including several Cubans, in the 1960s;
and the CIA supporting a number of suicide bombings that killed in total more than 1,000 lebanese dead throught the 70s.

Now, I don't really know what the CIA's relationship is to the United States, but I don't think that it is any stretch to label the United States as a terrorist state.

...

Facts are flexible, when you're unwilling to be objective, aren't they? ;)

Oh, one more thing: you tried to sneak in "the suicide truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983;" as part of your example of terrorism. Please tell me why an attack on US Marines (who aren't exactly helpless civilians) is terrorism in your book? Or even the bombing of the USS Cole a few years back?

s.

James: exactly!
Another fine example of this is the 2004 elections in the United States of America!
;)

I have to admit that I have watched Al Manar for some time via satellite. (It was freely available on Ku-band.) I found their inflammatory "news" coverage to provide a fascinating window into one worldview.

Of course, any news program that consistently uses the euphemism "martyrdom operations" when anyone else would say "suicide bomber" is open to question.

I was disappointed to see the U.S. intervene to disrupt the channel's carriage in the U.S., as I'm not sure it did much to advance U.S. policy interests. I unequivocally understand the rationale though. It's not like there's any question of the affiliation between Al Manar and Hezbollah.

Though I'm an ardent defender of free speech, it is naïve to call that media outlet a "news service."

Again. I think you have to take the high ground on these issues. Some people in the Middle East probably call it a news service and probably call Fox and CNN propaganda. It's one more rule of democracy that will appear to have been broken if we stifle what they would consider free speech.

One's culture definitely affects your viewpoint. It's important we all step back and try to imagine ourselves as one of those we're reading about. It's really not hard to put yourself in the place of another.

There is no question as to whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. As to "taking the high road," I think one would have to take a long, hard look as to whether the "media" organization is strictly that or whether they are funneling money to the Hezbollah terrorist activities. If they are simply propaganda then your high road argument applies. But it's often a _very_ fine line between terrorist organizations and their affiliates. In the past terrorist organizations have also used Charitable Non-profit Organizations to serve as front groups.

I'm sad to have to be the one to invoke Godwin's Law...

Hitler was a democratically-elected leader, and The Nazi Party in Germany was a legitimately-elected political party.

While I agree with your overall sentiment that we should err on the side of non-interventionist policies toward the *domestic* platforms of parties in emerging democracies, to turn a blind eye on their *foreign* policy and pretend that Hezbollah is "just a party" fails to understand the nature of democracy: it only works where the people themselves have been educated to believe in diversity and egalitarian, non-authoritarian rule.

Leave a comment

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Business and the Economy category.

Books is the previous category.

Computer and Network Risks is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index.

Monthly Archives