Thursday, July 13, 2006


Update on "U.S. blocks a website"

Monday I wrote a post on a story of the FBI "blocking" the Polish skinhead website "Redwatch" hosted on a server in Arizona. The site identified 17 people by photo, name and address. While I'm certainly not in sympathy with neo-Nazis targeting anyone, I feel strongly that government involvement in censorship demands close scrutiny. So I dug a little deeper on this one.

Complaint against "Redwatch"

In late May Reporters without Borders complained to the Polish Minister of Justice about the site. In a news item they noted the similarity between the neo-fascists and a party of the Polish ruling coalition—

Reporters Without Borders has written to Polish justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro to alert him to serious threats being made against Polish journalists by Redwatch, an extreme right-wing group that advocates violence. Redwatch-Poland ... has posted a list of 15 left-wing and far-left journalists and directly threatened them with reprisals for their anti-fascist views.

Redwatch is an international organisation that has its headquarters in Britain. Its website encourages its members to attack human rights activists, politicians, journalists and students by posting their names, photographs and addresses.

A human rights activist who was No. 2 on the list of "enemies" on the Redwatch-Poland site narrowly escaped a murder attempt on a Warsaw street on 16 May 2006....

The prosecutor handling the case, Elzbieta Janicka, told Reporters Without Borders that the investigation into the Redwatch-Poland site's content was blocked because it was hosted on a server in the United States. She said the office of the Warsaw public prosecutor had requested information from the relevant US authorities but she did not know if the request had reached the right people. Asked if the police were checking on Polish fascist organisations, she simply said, "enquiries are continuing."

Reporters Without Borders .... voiced astonishment about the vagueness of the prosecutor in charge of the case.

.... Redwatch-Poland and the other Polish neo-fascist group to which it is linked, Blood and Honour, have views similar to those of such groups as Youth of Great Poland, which belongs to the League of Polish Families (LPR), a member of the ruling coalition.

Redwatch-Poland targets the left-wing and far-left media and those that defend gay rights....


In my original post I mentioned the possibility that the FBI merely asked the owner of the server to take down the site. From the wording of the AFP article, that seemed unlikely. But according to an AP report and Radio Polonia, that's exactly what happened.

Jaroslaw Juszkiewicz of Radio Polonia reports,

The FBI contacted the server owner’s lawyer and the owner decided to remove the website from his server.

And a neo-Nazi site adds,

The US FBI contacted the web host and informed them the site was part of a Polish murder investigation, and the web host "voluntarily" removed the website, according to Polish news accounts. The web hosting company was also not named.

The mystery victim and the game of "Gossip"

I noted in my original post an unnamed person who may or may not have been attacked, depending upon the news account. The stories only seemed to agree that this person was male. As I've continued to read, the stories continue to diverge. I'm reminded of the game we called "Gossip" when I was a kid. (I believe it was also called "Telephone.")

The kiddies form a circle and one of them makes up a "secret." The child whispers the secret to the child next in the circle, who then whispers to the next child, until eventually the secret comes back to the original manufacturer. The fun is in discovering how the story changed as it was passed around.

I suspect this is how much of our news is produced, but I know of no better example than the news of our mystery victim.

The Associated Press (AP) made no mention of an attack.

Agence France-Press (AFP)

On May 16, a human rights activist, whose name was on the Blood and Honour list, narrowly avoided a knife attack in a Warsaw street. According to the US embassy in Warsaw, the would-be victim is Jewish.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) July 10

An anti-fascist activist named on this website was rushed to hospital in a serious condition after being attacked and stabbed on a Warsaw street on 16 May.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) May 29

A human rights activist who was No. 2 on the list of "enemies" on the Redwatch-Poland site narrowly escaped a murder attempt on a Warsaw street on 16 May 2006. His assailants hit him, used a pepper spray on him and stabbed him before making off. The knife came within a few centimetres of his heart.

Gay Poland via Doug Ireland

[A] young left-wing and ecological activist was stabbed with a foot-long knife which narrowly missed his vital organs. The assault is obviously linked with his presence on an Internet list called 'Krew i Honor' [Blood and Honor'] where Polish fascist organizations openly call for killing left-wing and gay activists.

Radio Polonia

The media started to talk abut the website after the brutal attack on a leader of a anarchistic organization. He was attacked by two men who sprayed nerve gas on his face and then stabbed him with a knife. His picture and name was published a few days earlier at the “Blood and Honor” website.

Libertarian Socialist News (neo-Nazi)

Polish authorities said they used the US website to gather information on the leader of leftist groups, leading to the murder of the leader of an anarchist organization in Southern Poland several weeks ago.

Let's put all that we have about the victim into a table—

Source Date Ethnicity Occupation Attack Outcome
-- -- --
May 16
human rights activist knife narrowly avoided
May 16
anti-fascist activist (knife) rushed to hospital in serious condition
human rights activist pepper spray and knife knife within a few cm. of heart
Gay Poland
young left-wing ecological activist foot-long knife narrowly missed vital organs
Radio Polonia
leader of an anarchistic organization nerve gas and knife  
leader of an anarchist organization -- murdered

Isn't the news fun?!

A Simply Appalling speculation

If you've followed along so far, you see that our view of events is like that of a myopic voyeurist in a sauna—mostly fog. But if we allowed the mere absence of facts to get in our way, we would not have invaded Iraq. And then where would we be? So with that, I'm going to make some guesses.

The Polish government was not at first eager to go after "Redwatch" even when responsibility for an attack was attributed to the website. Whether this was out of ideological sympathy or lethargy I do not know.

The victim of the attack was young, anarchist-leftist, in the environmental movement, did some writing (which made him a journalist), may have been gay and was most certainly Jewish. Normally such a person would be referred to by the government as an "ecoterrorist."

Now the AFP article with which I began this investigation informed, for no stated reason, that—

On May 27, Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich [an American living in New York] was also attacked in a Warsaw street, although he was not injured. His attacker was arrested last month.

Since I don't think for a moment that either the Polish or American government is trying to protect gays, journalists, leftists, anarchists or "ecoterrorists," I have to conclude that the impetus to take down the site came from Jewish groups—maybe even from Israel itself.

In confirmation of that, let's look at the distribution of the news. I don't know how far Google can be trusted to pick up all news sites, but if they're half as good as their investors think they are, this is interesting—

Meanwhile the British "Redwatch" is going strong.

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U.S. government "blocks" a website (7/10/06)


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