Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


FBI orders ISP to remove Daniel Pearl murder video
May 23, 2002 8:02 PM   Subscribe

FBI orders ISP to remove Daniel Pearl murder video
The video [not work safe, or even home safe] that surfaced shortly after his death has been targeted by the FBI for removal on the internet, apparently using the 1996 federal obscenity law. Anyone want a Bonsai Kitten or a Y2K Video also? The Editors Note speaks volumes: After this story was edited, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Carroll called Wired News to say the bureau was merely giving advice to websites hosting the Pearl video -- and was not threatening prosecution.
posted by plemeljr (48 comments total)

 
"Both assured me that it was illegal to post anything related to obscenity."
hmm. that's a little vague isn't it?
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 8:22 PM on May 23, 2002


Goldstein said that when Dow Jones spots a copy of the video online, it calls the cops.

Oh, thank you DJ. Don't you have anything else better to do? Go manipulate stocks or something.

Oh, and FBI? The video's out there, and it's too late to do anything about it. There are far more barn doors for you to be closing. Get to it.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:33 PM on May 23, 2002


Just wanted to weigh in and say I've seen the video. And I wish I never had. I honestly thought I was downloading a cheesy hoax, and I was bored. But it was definitely the real thing, and beyond gruesome.
posted by Karl at 9:04 PM on May 23, 2002


Is it even possible for the FBI to call someone up and give them advice without it being considered a threat of prosecution to ignore the advice? I can't think of a scenario in which Sandra Carroll's quote would be true. Certainly not this one.
posted by rcade at 9:10 PM on May 23, 2002


I suppose the upside to people seeing this video is that it gives a good picture of what sick, murderous fucks we're up against, and what lies at the heart of their agenda: murderous anti-Sematism. But this is also the death of someone's loved one reduced to grostesque pornography (judging by the other garbage on the site you linked), which is a terrible thing in and of itself. Hard to know how to feel about this, especially the possible use of the anti-obscenity law to block its distribution. What about places like rotten.com and stile? I'd personally love to see them go, but I'm afraid such decisions set a bad 1st amendment precedent.
posted by evanizer at 9:28 PM on May 23, 2002


Metatalk
posted by dogmatic at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2002


I would have to agree with WolfDaddy. The FBI should be doing alot more important s*** than this. Even if they manage to get this site to drop the video, would it take much more than a google search to find another copy?
posted by stifford at 9:57 PM on May 23, 2002


I saw the video -- horrible. Makes you want to kill every Arab you see, but then a logical mind stops that impulse and tells you... its only a small, extremist population...

You can tell how he is forced to say the things he says...
posted by yevge at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2002


But this is also the death of someone's loved one reduced to grostesque pornography (judging by the other garbage on the site you linked), which is a terrible thing in and of itself.

The other night I saw a cheesy LBJ/Vietnam Era biopic that included the footage of the captured Vietnamese man being executed by a close-range gunshot to the head. I've probably seen it 100 times in various documentary and fictional programs.

If that's OK, and clearly by the number of times death footage shows up in different places it has some measure of societal acceptance, how is the Daniel Pearl video any different?
posted by rcade at 10:15 PM on May 23, 2002


The Daniel Pearl video is different because it has a much more human feel. When you see 100 Vietnamese lined up, as unethical as it may sound, you don't have a relationship with them and you really don't care too much. You do not hear them speak, explain their family situation, their poltical positions, and they are not forced to explain that they are Vietnamese and their countries poor actions have forced them to be killed.

Also, a gunshot is one thing, having your head horribly cut off (this wasnt just a single slice, it was buturing (sp?) ) is a totally different thing.

I don't know if you saw the Pearl video, but if you did, you wouldn't be asking what the difference is.
posted by yevge at 10:29 PM on May 23, 2002


Goldstein said that when Dow Jones spots a copy of the video online, it calls the cops.

Too bad they're not as conscientious about their own fellows-in-crime stock market sleaz-bags who seem to be running rampant throughout that scam-world.
posted by HTuttle at 10:29 PM on May 23, 2002


Yevge: You seem to be saying is that Daniel Pearl's death deserves more respect than the infamous Vietnam War dead people because we have less of a relationship with the latter.

I don't see how that's a defensible position. In both cases it's emotionally disturbing footage of a specific person's death. How does the nationality or background of the dead person weigh at all on the issue of whether footage like this is "grotesque pornography"?
posted by rcade at 10:48 PM on May 23, 2002


Strangely, I mis-read your post, I thought you wrote that it was 100 Vietnamese in a line, shot. You're right.
posted by yevge at 10:55 PM on May 23, 2002


rcade, the picture you've referred to is a great deal different from the Daniel Pearl video. The main reason being, the Daniel Pearl story has been in the news since his initial kidnapping. We all saw the photos of him tied up with a gun to his head. We heard his family, co workers and friends all plead for his safe return. We felt a sense of loss when we heard the there was concusive evidence of his death. This is not the case with the photograph of the VC soldier being executed.
We don't share the same emotional ties with the latter, and therin lies the difference.
The last remaining moments of Daniel Pearl's life shouldn't be posted on a website who's main financial backer is fucking bangbus.com.
posted by dcgartn at 11:03 PM on May 23, 2002


Also, a gunshot is one thing, having your head horribly cut off (this wasnt just a single slice, it was buturing (sp?) ) is a totally different thing.

Sounds a lot like that video of a Russian soldier having his thoat slashed by a Chechen soldier (anyone have any idea what his name is? I am having a great deal of difficulty finding any background on the video). I've read the form of execution is supposed to be similar to the slaughter of sheep, with a prayer given beforehand. Personally I'm going to avoid the Pearl video.
posted by bobo123 at 11:08 PM on May 23, 2002


the footage of the captured Vietnamese man being executed by a close-range gunshot to the head

Offtopic, but the man who executed the prisoner run a pizza place in the mall near our house when I was growing up. (If I recall correctly, he was the chief of police in Saigon at the time of the execution.)
posted by kirkaracha at 11:36 PM on May 23, 2002


Also, a gunshot is one thing, having your head horribly cut off (this wasnt just a single slice, it was buturing (sp?) ) is a totally different thing.

I fail to see the difference. I paid good money to see JFK, and there was subjected to repeated, intimate, enhanced and augmented clips of the Zapruder film, forced to watch JFK's head burst open like an overripe melon over and over and over again. I didn't need to see that, and I walked out at that point and have not chosen to see an Oliver Stone flick since.

However, I'm not going around demanding that the movie JFK be barred from further public viewing. I'm not calling the FBI demanding that they demand people to remove images from the Zapruder film from their websites.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:42 PM on May 23, 2002


I have no intention of watching the video, the CBS story told me as much as I need to know. But if I hadn't seen the CBS piece I would probably watch it for the reason evanizer mentioned: to see what kind of people we're up against. If CBS was right, there are many people in the Islamic world watching this video with joy and pride (just as there are undoubtedly many who are completely disgusted by it.) Know your enemy.
posted by homunculus at 11:52 PM on May 23, 2002


yevga
Note:
Arabs and Pakistanis are different people.

I agree with you about the video though it is very sick and it it disgusted me greatly.
posted by yertledaturtle at 1:22 AM on May 24, 2002


...how is the Daniel Pearl video any different?

He was American, wasn't he? And thus, in the eyes of the American Viewing Public, a Real Person. Unlike all those dirty foreigners with their throats slit and heads split open that inconveniently litter the filthy backstreets of Overthereistan and Somewherelsia.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:44 AM on May 24, 2002


Anyone who watches this to "see what we're up against" is just rationalizing morbid curiosity. It's a snuff film, simple as that. This kind of shit, unfortunately, goes on all the time, all over the world, and not just for fucked up political reasons.
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:06 AM on May 24, 2002


i can't imagine that daniel pearl's family wants this video on the internet... if they've asked that it be removed then it should be removed, whatever frelling amendment or not. holy shit, if one of my family were murdered on film and someone indiscriminately put that film on the 'net, i would lose my mind. if i was not able to stop it on legal grounds then someone would have a massive problem on their hands because i'd become uncontrollably enraged and take care of it myself.

i think there are differences between well known journalistic photos/films that we've seen over the years and the video of pearl's murder being available in this manner... i am not saying that seeing an anonymous vietnamese person killed is less impactive than seeing a north american being killed. to me both are equally heinous and tragic because i give a damn what happens outside of my own backyard. to me the differences lie in where and how the material is being presented to us, and whether the families of the victims are aware of the display and feel harmed by it.

christ. it's so utterly low when people put things like this on their websites, which can only be to get traffic and notoriety. internet fame can be one of the saddest, most pathetic of human endeavors.
posted by t r a c y at 4:09 AM on May 24, 2002


Thank you, donkeyschlong.
posted by adampsyche at 4:17 AM on May 24, 2002


Just paging down a list of videos like that and looking at the one-line descriptions made me terribly tense and sad. I can look at a list of Hollywood slasher movies and just laugh at the stupidity of the makers and the viewers, but I felt rotten knowing my cursor was hovering over links to real pictures from real murders, suicides, and accidents put up on servers for entertainment.
posted by pracowity at 4:33 AM on May 24, 2002


While squeamish enough to avoid seeing this, I am not disheartened by its availability nor am I surprised that people are interested in seeing it.

Entertainment, from epic poetry, to the tragedies of Shakespeare, to the excesses of teen-slasher flics, has always been suffused with an interest in suffering and morbidity. It is a primal human concern and always has been. Do not be shocked that people are intigued by a reality that they have so long tried to recapture and recreate for entertainment purposes. And no one should feel superior that they personally manage to squash a very human trait. It would be 'inhuman' to not be interested in this.
posted by umberto at 5:46 AM on May 24, 2002


...how is the Daniel Pearl video any different?

The murder of Daniel Pearl was completely different from the Vietnam footage. The Vietnam incident was clearly (to anyone who has seen it) a military style execution, rather impersonal, matter-of-fact, a quick and (relatively) painless death for the victim. It's obvious that, whatever the moral issues or the context, the ARVN officer carrying out the execution did not seek to humiliate nor to torture.

By contrast, the Muslim practice of slowly cutting prisoner's throats, and videotaping the suffering of the victim, as evidenced recently with Pearl's murder in Pakistan and with Russian soldiers in places like Chechnya, is not execution, nor is it even cold blooded murder. It's something far more grotesque and sinister. It's a process of actually revelling in the death and suffering of their victims. Let's face it, even the Nazis adopted more humane methods of killing than (some) Muslim extremists are practising today.

If Pearl's murderers wanted to make a point, IMO they certainly have. They are pure evil. (Standard caveats apply - most genuine Muslims are equally revolted by these practices as anybody else).
posted by murray_kester at 6:44 AM on May 24, 2002


Murray_Kester: Are you nuts? Murder is murder.

It doesn't matter whether the motive was military or political, whether the victim felt pain or not. What the hell does "impersonal" mean? That if it isn't personally motivated that it is OK to kill someone? You're as sick as those on the video.
posted by timyang at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2002


I found this to be quite the entertainment (and please don't bite, this is not a troll; just stating my opinion). A cynic by nature, I couldn't care less for some journalist that I haven't heard of (before his kidnapping was made public) and mourn his loss, or be digusted by the video (being appalled by something is inherently a personal thing).
posted by Why at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2002


FYI, the second link comes from the Village Voice [man I mangled that link]. It is another instance of the FBI bringing to bear pressure to remove information from a website that it found objectionable without due process.

"...FBI agents called Mike Zieper, an independent artist who goes by the name Mike Z., and "requested" that he remove his site from the Internet. When he declined, the FBI worked in tandem with the U.S. Attorney's office to persuade his Web host and its server to pull Zieper's site—18 days after it went up—without having a subpoena or court order of any kind."
posted by plemeljr at 7:24 AM on May 24, 2002


murray_kester : based on your comment above, you are a living exemplar of the reason why our species is doomed to die choking on the blood of its neighbours. You are pure evil. Standard caveats apply.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:29 AM on May 24, 2002


For cripe's sake, chill out stavros. Your sanctimony is making my skin crawl.
posted by evanizer at 7:56 AM on May 24, 2002


For goodness' sake, I was not trying to suggest that Viet Cong's execution/murder was justifiable or excusable in any way. I am as revolted and disgusted by it as anyone else here.

Nor am I saying that any form of killing is acceptable under any circumstances whatsoever. I passionately oppose capital punishment, I even feel guilty when my gf asks me to take out a spider that is giving her the creeps.

And, yes, I agree, murder is murder is murder. It's wrong, it's never excusable even in war.

The point I was trying to make was simply that, if it was my turn to meet my maker, and I found myself in either situation, I'd take the Vietnam-style execution anyday to the protracted hell that poor Daniel Pearl had to endure.

If you choose believe otherwise you are simply mistaken.
posted by murray_kester at 7:56 AM on May 24, 2002


What murray's saying, and I agree with him, is that Pearl's murder was torture in addition to mere killing. The torture did not end with Pearl, either; the killers videotaped the death specifically to torment others with it. They intended to exacerbate the suffering of Pearl's family and inflict pain on the rest of us, and they killed him in the most grisly way they could think of primarily so that the videotape would be more painful to watch. That is evil.
posted by kindall at 7:57 AM on May 24, 2002


rcade, the picture you've referred to is a great deal different from the Daniel Pearl video. The main reason being, the Daniel Pearl story has been in the news since his initial kidnapping. ... We felt a sense of loss when we heard the there was concusive evidence of his death. This is not the case with the photograph of the VC soldier being executed.

I'm not talking about the picture. I'm talking about video of the same event which was used in a cheesy biographical movie about LBJ I saw on cable the other night (and many other things).

I don't see how you can suggest that it's less objectionable to show someone being killed when we don't care that much about the victim.
posted by rcade at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2002


Your sanctimony is making my skin crawl.

It would be a good call on the sanctimony, evanizer, but perhaps you might think about renting a sense of humor next time you feel the need to get the heebie-jeebies.

Next stop : parody.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2002


I think that the best arguement I could make for people being able to see the video is the fact that you don't actually see Pearl being murdered in that video. The footage shows stuff that happened before and after the act (not that the act didn't take place or that what is shown in the video isn't tremendously gruesome). So already, "the facts" and "truth" are being altered. It's a murder video that doesn't show the murder (this might sound like splitting hairs, but I don't believe so...) I'd rather see it for myself and make my own decisions on it, then just believe what someone else told me about it and assume that is the truth.

But if you never watched the video, how could you tell if I was wrong, or if everyone else was?
posted by stifford at 8:29 AM on May 24, 2002


Whether or not you find the video tasteless or disturbing (and I do), I'm pretty certain it isn't obscene under US federal law. There are dozens of sites that feature videos and images of dead and dying people, some more grisly than the Pearl video.
posted by tranquileye at 8:41 AM on May 24, 2002


To the posters who wrote that the manner of Daniel Pearl's death says something about "Muslims" or "Arabs" or "them."

Consider this: What if rotten or another site posted a video of an Afghan mother, father and children huddled in a mud brick house, exploding in a red tangle of meat when an errant U.S. bomb hit?

Would that video say something about Americans? If so, what would it be?

The decision to launch a prolonged, widespread bombing campaign accepts the liklihood that some number of innocent civilians will die. That's despite all of the concerted, sincere, real efforts military targeters make to avoid "collateral damage." U.S. soldiers do not want to hurt innocent people, but their tools make it difficult to avoid sometimes.

Most Americans have no problem whatsoever accepting that, these bodies of nameless innocent Afghans, because most Americans believe the bombing was justified in striking at supporters of terrorism.

All those deaths were wrong. But Daniel Pearl's murder makes Americans really angry. Why is that?
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:52 AM on May 24, 2002


All those deaths were wrong. But Daniel Pearl's murder makes Americans really angry. Why is that?

Because unintentional civilian casualties and purposeful acts of terroristic murder are two different things, and therefore evoke two different responses.
posted by Dreama at 8:58 AM on May 24, 2002


I don't see how that's a defensible position. In both cases it's emotionally disturbing footage of a specific person's death.

I can't bear see that video - but one thing do I know. Sure, we are used to see Hollywood delivering murderings and execution representations by and large, but in the end you know it's all fiction and special effects. Not on cases like Pearl's video - where you know it's all for real, the suffering, the horrible, searing pains of an awful death, live on your screen. It's still one of the most distressing things for me ever, so I wonder how can any civilized person, out of sick and morbid curiosity, become addicted to this kind of material.

Sorry, not the best topic to stomp into when taking coffee in the morning...
posted by betobeto at 9:02 AM on May 24, 2002


Most Americans have no problem whatsoever accepting that, these bodies of nameless innocent Afghans, because most Americans believe the bombing was justified in striking at supporters of terrorism.

Because in a war each party thinks they're right and the other's wrong.

that's the real quid of the question
posted by betobeto at 9:07 AM on May 24, 2002


I think that the best arguement I could make for people being able to see the video is the fact that you don't actually see Pearl being murdered in that video

I am choosing not to watch, but from what I have heard from others who have, that the CJ video linked above is unedited and complete. I have no problem with an edited version, without the murder, but would find an unedited version excessive and needless. Can someone tell me what version is being directly linked to here?
posted by adampsyche at 9:21 AM on May 24, 2002


... unintentional civilian casualties and purposeful acts of terroristic murder are two different things, and therefore evoke two different responses.

When the U.S. decides to launch a widespread, sustained bombing campaign, we know we'll kill people we didn't mean to, people who didn't do anything. The only "unintentional" part is who precisely will draw the short straw.

A bombing campaign that we know will kill innocent people we didn't personally select is on a higher moral plane than deliberately killing selected people like Pearl? How much higher? In an American court, the term of art would be homicide vs. negligent homicide or manslaughter - lesser crimes but still wrong.

I'm not arguing that the U.S. military is morally equivalent to terrorists. Despite the body count, I don't think they are. I am arguing that the way Pearl died doesn't provide insight into the race, religion or nationality of his murderers.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2002


It's a process of actually revelling in the death and suffering of their victims. Let's face it, even the Nazis adopted more humane methods of killing than (some) Muslim extremists are practising today.

It should be borne in mind that however nasty the behaviour in the video might be (I didnt bother watching it), it is no more excessive than the torture tactics the US teaches its client states at the School of the Americas:
Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia.

That is not to mention the state-approved torture and terror carried out by other US client states like Turkey. Without for a moment condoning the actions of Pearl's killers, at least we can say that they were not acting with their government's (or US) approval, which is more than can be said for the Latin American death squads.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2002


Can someone tell me what version is being directly linked to here?

It's the unedited propaganda video (as compared to the one shown on rotten.com), but it doesn't show the moment Pearl was being murdered. Don't get me wrong, what they show in the video is very grizzly. But it's all post-death.
posted by stifford at 9:58 AM on May 24, 2002


umberto has a valid point. how amazing the reaction to real footage of a murder, to which the viewers have already been sensitised to feel some sympathy for the victim, is. what is the difference between this and the thousands of on-screen deaths the average american 9 year old has seen? sanitisation of death is desensitising to some extent, but people still feel revulsion viewing real gore. there is something releaving about that.

also, in a tangentially related way, are these 'crush videos' as popular as this article makes out? videodrome?
not my cup of tea really, i got squemish at the sight of a dead rat this week. not that i am a big fan of live rats, either.
posted by asok at 11:31 AM on May 24, 2002


Ted Hickman, the owner of Pro Hosters, said the FBI insisted the video be removed immediately and that agents also wanted the identity of the person who runs the ogrish.com site.

"I said that of course I can't release anything without a subpoena," Hickman said


The FBI should really learn about the whois directory.
posted by banished at 12:58 PM on May 24, 2002


We all saw the photos of him tied up with a gun to his head. We heard his family, co workers and friends all plead for his safe return. We felt a sense of loss when we heard the there was concusive evidence of his death.

i didn't do any of those things. i didn't know the guy, and with six billion people, it's difficult to choose to care more for one than any of the others i don't know.

should i care because he's American? because he died more horribly or more painfully than another? because he had a family? what criterion tips the balance so that i should care more for one stranger than another? death sucks, without regard to whose it is or how it happened.
posted by tolkhan at 1:46 PM on May 24, 2002


« Older Finally...   |   Kazaa and related filesharing ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments