Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: USA's Internet Effort

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    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    USA's Internet Effort

    Daily Press Briefing
    Sean McCormack, Spokesman
    Washington, DC
    July 26, 2007

    MR. MCCORMACK: Nina.

    QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about -- there's an outfit called the Middle East Media Research Institute here in D.C. and they've got a new project at the moment trying to deal with jihadist websites whereby they're publishing websites on their own site, trying to discourage any American employers -- well, just trying to make people more aware of them, obviously --

    MR. MCCORMACK: Right.

    QUESTION: -- and trying to do something. Have you -- do you know anything about this program or does the State Department have any similar program trying to crack down on these sites?

    MR. MCCORMACK: I personally don't. I'm not familiar with the program. There may be somebody within the Department who's familiar with it. We have an active program within the United States Government to counter the kind of propaganda that you see pop up on these jihadist websites. Where, what active program? We have in the Public Diplomacy Bureau the International Information Programs Bureau, a number of different efforts designed to help counter this propaganda as well as to inform foreign publics. What about the American public? and the foreign public are not getting the message.

    Under Secretary Hughes recently put together the counterterrorism cell in the International Information Programs Bureau. And that's designed to, if you will, produce the software, What software? the messages, that anybody in the U.S. Government can use to help counter the kinds of message -- Where is this info, an RSS feed? what anything? ...messages that are coming out of these jihadist websites.

    We also have individuals, you need an army of surfers, in that bureau who are logging on to chat rooms in Arabic, engaging in discussions with people who may or may not be logged on to these kind of websites, to talk about America's policies, the reasons for those policies, and engage in a dialogue. And we think that that's really important. That's part of what the State Department is doing. Then you have also the rest of the U.S. Government is working on those kind of efforts as well.

    QUESTION: Would you say there's been increased use of these websites in the U.S. recently?

    MR. MCCORMACK: By users in the United States?

    QUESTION: Yes.

    MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. I don't have any basis for that. I just don't have any data on that. I mean, certainly -- look, they have been the -- those who are engaged in the use of violence and violent extremism have turned to the internet as a way of disseminating propaganda. And they -- in certain instances, you have websites and videos that have pretty high production values.

    So they are, in their world, certainly dedicating quite a bit of effort to it. And we as well as others are looking for ways to counter that which they put up there. And we think that, frankly, just speaking the truth -WHERE, WHEN, HOW, - not only about our values, our policies, but the policies and values of our friends and allies -- is the most effective weapon, because in essence, these people have no message. It's a message of nihilism. It's a message of violence. It's a message of murder and destruction. ON 5000 WEB SITES, FORUMS CHAT BOARDS, AND USA HAS ??? A SPEAKERS BUREAU. WHAT IS USA DOING??

    Now, that may appeal to some segment of some population, and there may be some that are just totally irreconcilable and that message speaks to them. You have to deal with those people in a certain way. But there may be others who may be tempted by this kind of message; but if you can reach out to them and speak to them about a different, more positive message, maybe that -- those jihadist websites are a little less effective.


    What we need to do !

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