Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 09, 2004

New Free Speech Zones

by Citizen

According to, its servers in London have somehow been seized by order of U.S. authorities. Their press release:

Thursday morning, 7 October 2004, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the requesting agency. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied and turned over the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the internet.

Since the court order was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia, the reasons for this action are still unknown to Indymedia. Talking to Indymedia volunteers, Rackspace stated that "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the concerned parties on what is happening.

It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US
jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.

The timing of this media suppression is suspicious, coming during the last month of an election in which more and more statements by the administration are being recognized as fabrications, lies, and damned lies. Indymedia generally takes up stories that would be dismissed as marginal or tin-foil hat by mainstream media, but the function of the media in a democratic society is not to hew to the mainstream, but to report news within the limits of the law. This seizure, although still unexplained by authorities, appears to be aimed to bury press freedoms under the mass of the security state.

In Iraq, seizure of the press drove Moqtada Al Sadr into open battle with U.S. troops, and seems to have cost much more security than it achieved. While we cannot know what sort of state secrets this action might possibly have been aimed at, we do know that for the last 3 years, "state secret" as
become a byword, and the U.S. reputation a laughing stock.

To channel Rumsfeld for a moment: Will this action help the U.S.'s
reputation as leader of the free world? Probably not. Should we oppose this?

You betcha.

Posted by b on October 9, 2004 at 06:23 AM | Permalink


i suggest a typographical correction for the headline - more accurately, one could say

"new speech-free zones"

Posted by: mistah charley | Oct 9, 2004 7:04:18 AM | 1

indymedia posted today (saturday) that they did this on behalf of the italian and swiss governments, in accordance with an international treaty aimed at prosecuting "terrorism" and other nasty stuff.

it would appear that the US is not only conducting wars on behalf of israel and its own plutocrats, but that it has now found a new occupation as rent-a-bully to do unsavory things on behalf of governments who, while not being exactly fond of freedom of speach, are still fond of their good name as "democratic" states.

my conclusion is that not only the US ruling classes are throwing democracy over board, but that increasingly europeans are doing the same, feeling they can now come out of the closet with their basest instincts after the demise of the US as a democracy.

switzerland and italy govts have always been very conservative and shown a tendency to look askance at opposition, especially from the left. but other european countries are not far away. germany has all but destroyed alternative websites by use of dree-for-all cease-and-desists which are rubberstamped into approval by all judges regardless of merits of frivolity involved, austria has for years criminalized and prosecuted lefty groups into bankruptcy or collaboration, england belgium netherlands denmark are basket cases in one way or other.

on top of that the EU has brought a rash of bad laws: anybody in the EU can be prosecuted for infringing the laws of any of its states, regardless of their location at the time of the supposed crime, there is a so-called "europol" with powers which would have made the SS pale with envy.

the US is 5-10 years before europe in social and technological developments. the future which the european political classes are importing from the US is nothing to be happy about. and, while europeans are arguably better informed about politics than americans, those interested in politics on this side of the atlantic are looking at the dire developments in the US while our cleptocracies are destroying a nce prosperous continent.

Posted by: name | Oct 9, 2004 8:39:31 AM | 2

Indymedia servers seized:

"We don't know why it happened," said Hep Sano, a member of the IMC organization in San Francisco. "We did not receive a copy of the subpoena. Right now, we're trying to organize legal help to figure out what the procedure is."

She added that the group thinks the issue might be related to recent requests by the FBI asking that the site remove photos posted by IMC's Nantes affiliate, purportedly depicting Swiss undercover police.>Link

The story about that is a saga.. Briefly, the police published pictures on the internet of supposed vandals or agitators at the G8 (Evian meeting) demonstrations in Geneva. To retaliate, someone sent Indymedia pictures of two undercover Swiss police officiers, and they published them.>First complaint>Details (French)

A parody of the original police site, the pictures are similar (and there are policemen amongst them, it is said):>Poliche

The last time (about two years ago) Swiss-French Indymedia was attacked by the authorities it was for publishing 'anti-Semitic propaganda' - a set of cartoons entitled "Nous sommes tous Palestiniens" by Carlos Latuff.>Latuff

Posted by: Blackie | Oct 9, 2004 11:23:38 AM | 3

more re. "free speech zones"

slashdot sez that during the presidential debate, two of the other presidential candidates, who had tried to enter the locality of the debate, were arrested. was, in this case, the "free speech zone" inside or outside ? there are some pretty upset commentaries about this from the rather-not-so-lefty readership there.

funny - rather strange - that this has been missed completely by the blogsphere until now.

Posted by: name | Oct 9, 2004 5:14:22 PM | 4

and then, there is a call to boycott rackspace over at cryptome - they allegue that rackspace acted against the best interests of their customer, indymedia.

Posted by: name | Oct 9, 2004 5:33:49 PM | 5

Hey Mistah C (top 'o the thread)--

Yup and just like he's declared himself the enviroPrez, the Twig will soon pronounce that he's forthwith to be known as The Supreme Leader of the new, improved and better than ever 'SpeechFreeWorld'.

Posted by: RossK | Oct 9, 2004 8:13:01 PM | 6

the St. Louis Indymedia server ( is not pinging today, post-debate. related?

Posted by: b real | Oct 9, 2004 8:28:47 PM | 7

@b real - the servers taken down hosted a number of indymedia sites including several local ones - I know they listed the one in Western MA as down due to this seizure - indymedia has a complete list on their site. Also indymedia radio was impacted.

The Green and Libertarian candidates were arrested while trying to serve a show cause order on the Debate committee - I stumbled across this tonight on the Libertarian site Badnarik Blog - there's interesting material there on the overall treatment of folks outside the debate by security forces. I haven't checked the Greens site yet.

Posted by: Siun | Oct 9, 2004 11:16:03 PM | 8

At least some journalists are recognizing this seizure as a misuse of the law to get news organizations to censor real political news:

Aidan White, the General Secretary for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had this to say. "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism. The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting."


White is absolutely correct to say so, because the owners of the servers, Rackspace, say that the seizure was done under cover of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, a treaty that, on the face of it, was designed to help countries work together to investigate international terrorism, kidnapping, and money laundering. Does anyone seriously think Indymedia kidnapped anyone? No, but they've probably been talking to people with connections to terrorists. Bad reporters!

The message is not simply that so called fringe media organizations will be harassed, but that YOUR news organization will be defined as a fringe group if it dares to report news that casts doubt on the legitimacy of the powerful in the US, Switzerland, and Italy.

Significantly, ABC News is coming under fire for a 10/8 memo published on the Drudge Report that concluded with these lines:

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

Surveying the right wing blogger response to this, the general reaction seems to be that ABC News has decided to attack Bush. So, just as 2003-04 saw attempts to redefine Democrats as traitors to the country, we will now see the same attacks on ABC and CBS. And they have just announced the new, international approach to dealing with anyone treacherous enough to publish significant facts about the powerful.

Posted by: Citizen | Oct 11, 2004 10:51:33 AM | 9

I'm confused. How can the 'media' which is owned by the establishment be targeted by the establishment for having attacked the establishment?

When the CEO of Viacom, a Bush supporter, spikes an anti-Bush CBS 60 minutes story 'to avoid influencing the election', how can Bushies possibly see CBS as a traitor? Or does CBS have some autonomy left with which it can bite the hand that feeds it? Same question for Disney/ABC and General Electric/NBC, Murdoch/Fox and AOL? TimeWarner/CNN.

On the question of European freedoms of press etc: darnit, ya'll were supposed to be my fallback position. Where else can freedom-lovin' Americans emigrate?

Posted by: gylangirl | Oct 11, 2004 9:00:41 PM | 10

I watched the "Third Party Candidates" debate at Cornell University yesterday on C-Span. David Cobb, the Green Party candidate for president said: "My 'free speech zone' is wherever I'm standing."

I must say, I like Cobb, and the Libertarian candidate a lot more than what the GOP and Dems have put up.

Posted by: Kate_Storm | Oct 11, 2004 9:38:41 PM | 11

Did you know that Badnarik (the Libertarian candidate) is attempting to sue over the Arizona debate? They claim that it is unjust because it uses taxpayer dollars (sited at a public university) that are taken from registered Libertarian party members and uses them as a sort of donation to the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns. Logical, no?

Indymedia link on the story

hearing today

Posted by: Citizen | Oct 12, 2004 1:43:57 PM | 12

The comments to this entry are closed.