Snared on the Web By William Bowles

28 October 2003

“The United States has added Web sites to its list of “foreign terrorist organizations” for the first time, under the category of aliases for conventional groups, a State Department official said Friday.” Reuters October 10, 2003

The latest attack on freedom of speech might not bother non-Americans but the State Department’s move to add Websites to its list of “Blocked Persons, Specially Designated Nationals, Specially Designated Terrorists, Specially Designated Global Terrorists, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers” should.

This latest move has immense implications for anybody visiting such a site whether deliberately, accidentally or simply through idle curiosity. It might get you on the State Department’s gargantuan list (see below). Apparently amongst those newly added to the list are Jewish organisations that support the Palestinian cause although I have no way of checking as my attempts at finding it were futile even after extensive searches of the online Federal Register (try it for yourself Federal Register([1].

I tried every combination of keywords I could think of to search the 49 million plus documents stored in the Federal Register but to no avail. Apparently, the USG doesn’t want you to know what sites you shouldn’t visit until after you’ve made the trip.

But I did manage to locate the following (partial) list:

[Federal Register: June 30, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 125)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 38943-38972]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

[[pp. 38943-38972]] Alphabetical Listing of Blocked Persons, Specially Designated Nationals, Specially Designated Terrorists, Specially Designated Global Terrorists, Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers
[[Continued from page 38942]]

[[Page 38943]]

The list is pretty big (4000 lines) and includes names and addresses, passport numbers but not an iota of information on why exactly they’ve made it onto the list. And then I noticed that this is a continuation of the list, as this one starts at the letter O and ends at Z (go to page 38942 for the rest). But maybe you’d like to get in touch with the guys who are responsible for it and maybe they’ll be able to let you know where the list of Websites is kept. Sorry, no phone numbers or email addresses:

Dated: June 20, 2003.
R. Richard Newcomb,
Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Approved: June 23, 2003.

Juan C. Zarate,
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes),
Department of the Treasury.
[FR Doc. 03-16215 Filed 6-25-03; 8:45 am]

And apparently, under U.S. law, it would be illegal to provide money or other material support to the designated Web sites. The people who run them could be denied U.S. visas, and U.S. banks must block their funds. Does this include paying the site a visit I wonder, but then I won’t know until after the knock on the door at midnight.

One assumes that the US authorities (and its allies) will attempt to monitor access to the listed sites, although it remains to be seen if this practical. No doubt we will see a clamour of demands for even more control over the Web in order to more accurately monitor online use of ‘suspect’ sites.

And will the US government attempt to block access to these sites and is such a policy enforceable or even legal? Unlike say the Chinese government that has centralised control over the ‘hubs’ through which all Internet traffic has to pass, there are literally thousands of access points to monitor, let alone ‘mirror’ sites that can pop up almost anywhere.

And what is the point of all this? What exactly is it that the government is hoping to achieve? We read of how people can look up how to build bombs and all manner of destructive devices on the Web. But as a kid, me and my childhood friend Terry Smith, who lived next door to me in Balham, looked up how to make a rather devastating explosive in a chemistry book and bought the chemical, a popular weed killer in a local hardware store. How we managed to avoid blowing ourselves up making a very powerful gun cotton is still a miracle to me.

But the point of government policy is not to withhold the information, that would mean combing every library, every bookshop and no doubt, eventually every bookshelf in the land for the offending information, but to intimidate and discourage people from inquiry. In fact the FBI now have a law that enables them to monitor the kinds of books people get from public libraries, something they tried and failed to do back in the 1980s under Reagan. And moreover, they’ve gotten the librarians to do the spying for them by reporting who gets ‘suspect’ titles.

Speaking of which, I received the following from the courageous (and extremely outspoken) writer and journalist Israel Shamir the other day, about how the Zionist lobby in France has managed to get his book “Galilee Flowers” banned in France under an 1881 law.

“Let the shofars resound! Major victory for the zionist cause! by Israel Shamir

“My French publisher has decided to cease publication of my book. As a result of the zionist threats they have received. You’ll find the circumstantial details surrounding this weighty intimidation operation here below. This, then, may be your last opportunity to purchase my book before it’s burned at the stake. You can get it from the publisher or order a copy from Maria Poumier in France at:

“Oh, woe to our freedom of speech! My book will follow the path, alongside the works of Voltaire and Joyce, of Nabokov and Céline–a company far superior to the one my enemies can ever aspire to keep. Congratulations to the zionist lobby of France for valiantly shielding the people of France from any ideas they may find disturbing.. The Prime Minister of Malaysia was right: They [zionists] control the West because the West has neither the brains it takes to think nor the backbone to resist. I offer my deepest apologies to my excellent translator, Marcel Charbonnier, and to all who contributed to my book. I am certain that its ideas will live on, for if paper burns down at 451º F, the human spirit remains invincible.”

The link above will get you to the French version. A PDF version in English is available at: though I prefer my books on paper.

PS: I found the book, in English and was blown away by Shamir’s writing.

Flowers of Galilee – The Collected Essays of Israel Shamir, Dandelion Books, USA 2004.



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