The White House said Tuesday that the FBI continues to
investigate what role an anti-Muslim YouTube video played in the attacks in
Libya that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other
Americans, and current evidence suggests the YouTube video was the trigger,
rather than a premeditated attack taking advantage of protests over the video.
YouTube says the video will remain on the site, but is not
accessible in India or Indonesia, where it is illegal, or in Libya or Egypt,
"given the very sensitive situations" there.
In response to a question about whether the U.S. had a heads
up that violence was increasing there before the attacks, White House press
secretary Jay Carney said he was not aware of any, but that that issue and
others were the subject of an ongoing investigation.
He said that "based on what we knew at the time, knew
initially, what we know now, the facts that we have, the video was a
precipitating cause to the unrest in the region and specifically in
"This is a matter that's under investigation in terms
of what precipitated the attacks, what the motivations of the attackers were,
what role the video played in that," Carney said, then repeated the
administration's condemnation of the video. "What we have seen is broad
unrest across the region and elsewhere in response to this video, which we have
made clear we view as reprehensible and disgusting, and a video that is in no
way connected to the United States government and does not reflect the values
that we hold as a people."
The White House last week confirmed it had asked YouTube to
look into whether the video violated its terms of service. The site does not
allow hate speech. "We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right
to express unpopular points of view," it says in its community guidelines.
But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based
on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status,
and sexual orientation/gender identity)."
The White House declined to comment on whether YouTube had
provided an answer, referring B&C
to the company, which said the video did not run afoul of those hate speech
"We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy
and which also enables people to express different opinions," said a
YouTube spokesman. "This can be a challenge because what's OK in one
country can be offensive elsewhere. This video -- which is widely available on
the Web -- is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.
However, we've restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as
India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive
situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with
principles we first laid out in 2007."
YouTube maintains that the restrictions on access in Libya
and Egypt were not as result of White House pressure and that it does not plan
to review its decision that it falls within its community guidelines, according
to a source speaking on background.
There has been some criticism of the Administration
officials' condemning the content of the video. In
a blog posting on The Media Institute website this week, former FCC
Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth argued that there were serious First
Amendment issues on the "slippery slope the government places itself on
when it comments on the content of publications, whether videos, books,
magazines, newspapers, or Internet sites."
That blog posting came after Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said that the video was "disgusting and reprehensible," and
"appears to have a deeply cynical purpose to denigrate a great religion
and provoke rage," though Furchtgott-Roth also pointed out that Clinton
was careful to state that as her personal view. The transcript of Carneys'
daily press conference, where the exchange occurred, did not indicate a similar