Does Dick Cheney own YOUTUBE? and MTV?


YouTube and MTV Try to Shut Down New Cheney Indictment Film

By Joan Brunwasser

The film is about indicting Cheney for ordering torture, waterboarding in particular.And he has been so arrogant about his self-perceived immunity from prosecution that he has admitted publicly that he was “a big supporter of waterboarding”. So, one of the key scenes is our waterboarding scene,and that’s the first preview clip we posted on YouTube.Next thing you know we got a notice from YouTube that they had blocked the video


My guest today is the Pen. Welcome to OpEdNews! Before we get started, can you please tell our readers a little about the Pen, who you are and what you do?

ad for The Last War Crime rejected by MTV; photo credit: The Pen

The Pen happens to be my full, legal name. But people call me just Pen, and I like that. I started my life as an internet policy activist, and have worked many years to facilitate the voices of others to speak out for policy advocacy. And I have also been responsible for creating various creative media projects in the past relating to policy issues. In this case, I had a vision of producing a full feature length film, The Last War Crime , about what it would have been like if Dick Cheney had already been indicted for torture, if justice had already prevailed, and at the same time produce an entertaining and suspenseful movie. At the end, there is a classic movie race against time, will the heroine succeed in getting Cheney served live with the arrest papers, or will they intercept her before she can do that?

Is this your first effort, Pen?

For a full length feature film, yes. But I have worked closely with actors before to get performances. I wrote and produced a 40-minute radio play that got some exposure, and when the health care reform debate was happening, I wrote some video spots addressing that, and produced those with a full camera crew, so that gave me the confidence to tackle a larger project like this. And with the valiant help of many extraordinarily talented cast and crew members, we pulled off the production.

I’m used to your action alerts and petitions that have regularly appeared at OpEdNews. For readers unfamiliar with your work, can you please give an idea of the range of issues that you’ve covered, Pen?

I have always felt strongly that if the voice of the people were truly heard, it would be naturally progressive, which to me just simply means in the best public policy interest of we the people. So we have advocated for single payer health care, against the invasion of Iraq and against continuing an occupation there, which even right wingers now see in hindsight as a monumentally bad idea, and so on. I’d like to add that OpEdNews has from the beginning been very supportive of the concept of policy advocacy, and we created for their writers’ interface a function for adding live policy advocacy functions to their articles, a feature that has been widely and effectively used.

Thank you for your kind words about OpEdNews. What is a live policy advocacy function exactly? And how does it work?

It is all very nice for one person to speak out on the issues in public, especially if that one person is a prominent journalist. But real policy change for the people only happens when many other people speak out with them. Moreover, when someone is reading about a policy issue, there should be link right there if someone is inspired to add their voice to the consensus. So, if you see on an OpEdNews page, “click here to speak out,” that connects you with a server process to send your message of advocacy in real time to all your representatives in Congress (House and Senate).

So, it’s an easy and effective way to ramp up support a notch and spread the word. That’s good. How did you get started with this in the first place, Pen? You mention that you started out as an “internet policy activist”. Where did your political awareness come from?

It’s a mystery sometimes how we may find ourselves on a path not knowing where it will lead. Two years ago, I would not have anticipated that I would be producing this film, The Last War Crime. And yet it is now in the final stages of post production. Somehow, whatever I have done in my life has prepared me for this moment. I see this movie as an opportunity to change the way people think, a natural extension of the policy advocacy itself. And I understand that only by changing the way people think can we in fact have real policy change.

Valiant Asst. US Attorney Rachel Silver (actress Deanna Hurst) makes her closing argument appeal to the grand jury to indict Dick Cheney for war crimes, conspiracy and murder, in this scene from The Last War Crime. Photo credit: The Pen

Your film has generated some strong reactions and it’s not even finished yet. Let’s talk about what happened on YouTube first.

The Last War Crime is about indicting Cheney for ordering torture, waterboarding in particular. And he has been so arrogant about his self-perceived immunity from prosecution that he has admitted publicly that he was “a big supporter of waterboarding”. So, one of the key scenes in the movie is our waterboarding scene, and that’s the first preview clip we posted on YouTube. Next thing you know we got a notice from YouTube that they had blocked the video. Someone, probably a single right wing operative we think, made the false complaint that there was nudity or pornography in it. But using the same resources we have to send messages to Congress, we rallied more that 7,000 people to send protests to YouTube and they were forced to put the clip back up.

I saw that clip, the trailer. I didn’t see any nudity or pornography. Not only that, but the whole clip is really short. Did you change it or is that the clip that created such blowback? And were you expecting a reaction of that sort from YouTube? It seemed pretty tame compared to a lot of the material that is out on the web.

That’s the clip there was such a fuss about, just 60 seconds. And in fact many people in their protests to YouTube were shocked that this relatively mild depiction of waterboarding was too much for people to be allowed to see. But actually, there is a profound point about this, which is that we were not interested in producing a graphically violent scene, with dark, scary torturers portrayed as powerful characters. To our mind, those kinds of representations do not turn people away from torture. Quite the opposite, they reinforce torture, feed into torture and desensitize people to torture. So, what we do instead with the scene is allow people to use their imaginations to infer the actual waterboarding itself which is not shown. But even that “tame” version they tried to take down.

So, your people power got the clip reinstated. But that hasn’t been the end of the story. You’ve also encountered censorship from another source. Can you tell us about that, Pen?

As shocked as I was that YouTube would react so precipitously, I was even more stunned by what I was told when we approached MTV to run a paid ad for The Last War Crime movie. We thought it would be great to run a short video from the film on their Times Square high definition video screen. But the instant they heard the title of the film, their ad manager demanded a synopsis. And I was like, whoa, what is this? So I asked them point blank, “Must MTV approve the underlying content of a movie to accept an ad for that movie?” And their answer, in WRITING was “Yes”. So I then asked, “Does that not implicate some kind of possibly arbitrary political censorship?” And again, their unabashed answer was “Yes”.

What does this mean exactly, Pen? What kinds of material have been pulled or censored by YouTube and MTV in the past? Is this an aberration or, unfortunately, too common?

We are already starting to hear from other people who have had similar experiences. I should add that this was not just one particular MTV ad manager. Because we went ahead and submitted our proposed ad anyway, and got back a rejection from a second MTV executive stating, “We are unable to accept advertising for this product.” Note the use of the word “product”. So this confirms this was not just for one ad but for anything related to the entire The Last War Crime movie.

Where does that leave you, Pen? In a way, it’s good publicity: “This is what YouTube and MTV don’t want you to see.’ Could it work in your favor?

Frankly, based on how much censorship we are encountering already I have come to understand, part of my own personal eye opening, that there is a much deeper issue we need to confront without compromise. Of course, we launched a parallel protest action to MTV, which is just a division of Viacom Inc., one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, with more than 170 different affiliated networks and a worldwide audience of 600 million. And Viacom has now received over 12,000 such protests through the action page at . But at the same time, we are seriously considering a federal legal challenge, should Viacom try to play deaf in the face of this growing scandal.

So, I guess the question is, how many signatures will it take to break through the wall at Viacom? Or, conversely, what will it take to mount a legal challenge against it? Are we talking big legal bills or is there another way to go about this should they remain unmoved by citizen outrage?

That is such an important question you just asked. We’d like to think that Viacom would simply admit they were wrong. When we protest to our government, we expect them to hear our grievances. That’s just basic First Amendment stuff. But what happens, and this my new insight caused by this experience, when corporations, unaccountable corporations, take over the functions of government? After all, this is not a government agency censoring a political policy point of view, this is a business entity. Special interest corporations have essentially taken over the policy-making functions of government, exacerbated by the radical Citizens United [Supreme Court] decision, even to the point of writing the bills Congress considers, through their lobbyists and proxy former executives on staff. So the new insight is that, unless we find a way to hold the corporations accountable directly, there is no prospect whatsoever for government by and for the people.

You still have a movie to get out. How will this affect your strategy for publicizing and distributing the film? And what can people do, where can they go if they’re interested in knowing more and doing something about this censorship?

A number of well-meaning people we know have said, “Just find other ways to publicize the movie.” But we are not going walk away from this. If there is a path to get the movie out, it must be directly through the biggest obstacle someone puts in our way. As I was suggesting, once you start surrendering, there is no end to the appeasement. So we ask everyone to go to and submit the action page. And we are very determined to follow up if necessary with a strong legal challenge, and we think we have triable grounds to do so. There is an email address contact on that same action page at the bottom if you are an attorney with interest in these areas and would like to talk to us. And on a fun note, there is also a Facebook page at where we are posting lots of still pics from the film and you can post your own comments about all this and participate there.

Good luck with getting your film out, publicized and seen by as many of our fellow citizens as possible. Keep us posted!

Thank you for your gracious time and interest. We see this as a potential life imitates art situation, to actually build public pressure for real accountability for war crimes. But at the very least it is a political fantasy fulfillment film.

Thanks so much for talking with me, Pen. It’s been an education.

Always my pleasure speaking with you.

Viacom Protest Action page
Facebook page

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning. Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations – authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we’re all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done. Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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1 Response to Does Dick Cheney own YOUTUBE? and MTV?

  1. eslkevin says:

    Big Brother Internet

    By Paul Craig Roberts

    Attention has been focused on the inadequacies of Internet security. If organizations as large, powerful and security-conscious as these are vulnerable, who then is safe? Not only have the targets been breached and embarrassed, consumer trust in the Internet has also been shaken.

    This article cross-posted from Paul

    Dear friends: I am pleased to bring to you Gerald Celente’s assessment of the threats posed to Internet freedom. Celente’s Trends Journal is one of the most insightful publications of our era. PCR

    Do you remember the Safe-Cyber instructions they taught you in the mandatory Computer Ed class (operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)? First you fire up your Secured Computing Device (SCD) and its hardware token authenticator.

    Then you enter the six-digit algorithmically generated password displayed (a new one flashes every 60 seconds) and are asked to supply your biometric identifier. You place your thumb on the built-in fingerprint pad, click, and wait for the Internet connection to begin. But it doesn’t.

    Instead, the screen goes black for a second before the dreaded words appear: “Malware has been detected on this SCD. As mandated by federal law, it has been placed in quarantine.” Then the machine shuts down.

    This is not just conjecture, but an imminent scenario. Policies, such as the White House proposed “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace,” which will transform the character, culture and freedom of the Internet, are already in place. The 20 cybersecurity-related bills introduced in the Senate in 2011, and the dozen introduced in the House of Representatives, have wound their way through committees and, according to Senator Harry Reid, are scheduled to be voted on in the first quarter of 2012. Almost all of them, with the blessing of the White House, would make the Department of Homeland Security the overseer of private-sector networks.

    Considering the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from Washington and the ranks of cybersecurity experts — echoed by media reports that portray every picayune data breach as Armageddon — it would appear that the vulnerability of the Internet has been underplayed for many years.

    In the Internet’s start-up decades, both industry and government were committed to establishing an atmosphere of trust that would draw the public into conducting more and more digital business. Though data breaches, theft of trade secrets, identity theft and bank robbery have been a fact of Internet life since its beginnings, there were few laws requiring disclosure. Banks and credit card firms ate their losses as a cost of doing business, and the giant corporations kept mum rather than roil the public. Recently, the pendulum has swung in the other direction and a raucous alarm has been sounded regarding the great danger posed by the Internet.

    The Nation is at a crossroads. The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as “cyberspace” underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety, and national security. This technology has transformed the global economy and connected people in ways never imagined. Yet, cybersecurity risks pose some of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st century. The digital infrastructure’s architecture was driven more by considerations of interoperability and efficiency than of security. Consequently, a growing array of state and non-state actors are compromising, stealing, changing, or destroying information and could cause critical disruptions to U.S. systems. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)

    While there may be other factors behind the current wave of cybersecurity alarmism, we have identified three major forces: The Government, the Cybersecurity-Industrial complex, and the so-called “Hacktivists.”

    The Hacktivists LulzSec and Anonymous, the most-publicized of the hacktivists, along with a growing community of ad hoc cyberactors, have had a multi-faceted impact on the cybersecurity environment that goes far beyond the number of hackers at work or the amount of actual damage their exploits have inflicted.

    They have skillfully publicized their outsized, headline-ready cyberintrusions. Their attacks, which are something other than the garden variety cybercrime, have compromised the web assets of Sony, the CIA, Fox News, the Church of Scientology, Bank of America and many more. Beyond the financial damage and security breaches, they’ve created a public relations nightmare forcing these major institutions to go public with what they would otherwise go to great lengths to conceal.

    As a result, attention has been focused on the inadequacies of Internet security. If organizations as large, powerful and security-conscious as these are vulnerable, who then is safe? Not only have the targets been breached and embarrassed, consumer trust in the Internet has also been shaken.

    These high profile, anarchic Internet exploits — compounded by the role of social media in evading and undermining government control of the political and media arena (Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) — have intensified government efforts to clamp down on the Internet ” while providing the media with scary cyber-stories to further that agenda.

    The Government The US government agenda to control the Internet is at least a decade old. Just three months after the Bush White House created the Department of Homeland Security, it issued “The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.” The document begins:

    My Fellow Americans:
    The way business is transacted, government operates, and national defense is conducted have changed. These activities now rely on an interdependent network of information technology infrastructures called cyberspace. The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace provides a framework for protecting this infrastructure that is essential to our economy, security, and way of life.

    In the past few years, threats in cyberspace have risen dramatically. The policy of the United States is to protect against the debilitating disruption of the operation of information systems for critical infrastructures and, thereby, help to protect the people, economy, and national security of the United States.

    Nearly a decade later, the basic message from the White House sounds much the same, if louder and more urgent. But there is a big difference. President Obama, and the rest of the Beltway insiders, have now formally defined cyberspace as a “strategic national asset.”

    On the face of it, this appears to be a reasonable approach for a world that has become, in a relatively short time, totally dependent on digital resources. Unfortunately, it is an approach that provides a straight path to the militarization of the Internet and the loss of liberty that will follow. It is an approach that will elevate the most common forms of cybercrime (bank robbery, credit card theft) to the high-alert status of a cyberwar attack.

    This government mindset will lead to the same abrogation of individual rights in cyberspace as the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 has codified in “Battlefield America.”

    Given the integrated nature of cyberspace, computer-induced failures of power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption. DoD operations — both at home and abroad — are dependent on this critical infrastructure. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses erode both U.S. military effectiveness and national competitiveness in the global economy. Cyber hygiene must be practiced by everyone at all times; it is just as important for individuals to be focused on protecting themselves as it is to keep security software and operating systems up to date. (Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, July 2011)

    Many Internet experts and cybersecurity professionals have deemed 2011 “The Year of the Hack,” in recognition of the unending stream of headlines related to data breaches and thefts. We believe that — aside from any real uptick in cybercrime or cyberwarfare skirmishes — this perception is the result of the government’s determination to soften up the public to meekly accept an upcoming barrage of Internet regulation. It is a digital-age version of the tried and true fear mongering that is always employed to further empower the president and further enrich the military/industrial and Homeland Security complex. The government says it’s not fear mongering, just education.

    The national dialogue on cybersecurity must begin today. The government, working with industry, should explain this challenge and discuss what the Nation can do to solve problems in a way that the American people can appreciate the need for action. People cannot value security without first understanding how much is at risk. Therefore, the Federal government should initiate a national public awareness and education campaign informed by previous successful campaigns. (White House Cyberspace Policy Review, 2011)

    The Prominence of the Non-military Aspects of Warfare. Non-military means of warfare, such as cyber, economic, resource, psychological, and information-based forms of conflict will become more prevalent in conflicts over the next two decades. In the future, states and non-state adversaries will engage in “media warfare” to dominate the 24-hour news cycle and manipulate public opinion to advance their own agenda and gain popular support for their cause. (“Global Trends 2025,” National Intelligence Council, 2008)

    The Money Card A key point being used to “educate” the public is the putative astronomical monetary loss caused by cybercrime in all its forms. There is, of course, no way to ascertain the validity of these numbers or even to figure out just what kind of losses are included in the estimates, which are generally arrived at by the large cybersecurity corporations. Some loss-figures appear to include the fall in a company’s stock price that usually follows revelation of a major hack (but doesn’t adjust that figure when the stock price climbs back up), as well as adding in an arbitrary sum attributable to time lost in recovery.

    The largest global estimate of money lost to cybercrime currently floating around — as totted up by McAfee, the world’s largest cybersecurity company and endorsed by the White House — is $1 trillion a year. Symantec Corp., another cybersecurity giant, calculates the annual toll of global cybercrime to be about $388 billion. For dramatic impact, Symantec notes that figure is greater than the black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. Either of those (wildly divergent) sums is impressive, but do they mean anything? Or are they just part of a government “education campaign modeled on previous successful campaigns,” such as selling the public on the certainty of WMDs in Hussein’s Iraq?

    Far from being broadly based estimates of losses across the population, the cyber-crime estimates that we have appear to be largely the answers of a handful of people extrapolated to the whole population. A single individual who claims $50,000 losses, in an N = 1000 person survey, is all it takes to generate a $10 billion loss over the population. One unverified claim of $7,500 in phishing losses translates into $1.5 billion.

    Our assessment of the quality of cyber-crime surveys is harsh: they are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings.

    There has long been a shortage of hard data about information security failures, as many of the available statistics are not only poor but are collected by parties such as security vendors or law enforcement agencies that have a vested interest in under- or over-reporting. (“Sex, Lies and Cyber-crime Surveys,” Microsoft Research)

    The Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex The fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding cyberspace has helped turn cybersecurity into an enormously profitable business, worth between $60 and $100 billion a year, depending on who’s providing the statistics. The sector is expected to grow 10 percent annually for at least the next five years. You don’t have to attribute any ethical lapses in the cybersecurity industry to recognize that it, like the government, has a great interest in “educating” the public in cybersecurity awareness.

    Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network that hackers will be unable to penetrate. (Reuters, 27 May 2011)

    “I am convinced that every company in every conceivable industry with significant size and valuable intellectual property and trade secrets has been compromised (or will be shortly), with the great majority of the victims rarely discovering the intrusion or its impact “. In fact, I divide the entire set of Fortune Global 2,000 firms into two categories: those that know they’ve been compromised and those that don’t yet know.” — Dmitri Alperovitch, Vice President of Threat Research for McAfee

    The military-industrial complex of the Cold War era has morphed into the cybersecurity-military/industrial-Homeland Security complex of the Cyber War era ” to which there is no end in sight. With the cybersecurity industry creating the technology required to stem the very cyberattacks they are in charge of discovering and monitoring, we face an endless cyberarms race that will undoubtedly be fed on exaggerations of the virtual menace and our vulnerability to it.

    On the heels of the fear and hysteria will come the firm push for strict control and regulation of the Internet. It will be championed by government and industry as the necessary response to cyberwar, cyberterrorism, and cybercrime which, since cyberspace is considered a “strategic national asset,” are essentially all the same.

    The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) for instance, which is scheduled for a vote in 2012, will take a page from the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2012. In order to protect the rights of copyright holders to profit from their intellectual property, SOPA would permit the dissolution of due process and open the door wide to censorship and the denial of the right to free speech. The bill, supporters suggest, is not just about recovering the billions lost to bootlegged movies and music, rather, it’s about protecting the military strength that ultimately depends on economic vitality.

    We agree with The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called SOPA the most extreme, anti-Internet, anti-privacy, anti-free speech copyright proposal in US legislative history. It is, however, only one of many legislative proposals likely to be steamrollered through Congress in the coming year.

    Computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Labs, envisions the “passportization” of the Internet. In his opinion, to access critical online services, such as banking or electronic voting, “it should be made mandatory to log-on only with the use of a unique personal identifier [for example, a token — a sort of cyber-passport] and establish a secure authoring connection.”

    Microsoft has proposed what it calls a “public health model” for the Internet. Cybercitizens would be required to have a “clean bill of health,” make their computers open to inspection, and, if contaminated by a virus or other malware, be prepared for quarantine.

    President Obama’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is pushing for development and public adoption of Internet user authentication systems that will function as a driver’s license for the cyberhighway.

    Government control of the flow of information will strike a blow against Internet anonymity and the free speech it has made possible. Driver’s license, bill of health, passport, whatever you call it — it’s all about the ability to track and control the individual. Today, traffic in copyrighted digital material is the criminal behavior supposedly under attack; tomorrow, it will be the ability to speak out against corrupt government.

    Hello, Big Brother.

    Trendpost: The demand for ever-more effective cybersecurity tools to counter the ever-more inventive depredations of cybercriminals and cyberwarriors will be with us far into the foreseeable future. Clearly, this situation will create many jobs, both for the formally educated and the creative hacker. In addition, The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education — established to provide cyber-awareness training to students in Kindergarten through post-graduate programs — will need many specialized teachers.

    Somewhat farther along on the timeline, there is a high likelihood that the manufacture of cyber-components will be repatriated to the US. The 2011 Department of Defense’s “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” notes: “The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas. The reliance of DoD on foreign manufacturing and development creates challenges in managing risk at points of design, manufacture, service, distribution, and disposal.”

    A high probability exists that 2012 will bring revelations about contamination in the global IT hardware and software supply chain and proof that computer components are providing our “enemies” with entry to critical networks or transmitting sensitive information to them. This will turn the DoD’s security concern into a hot imperative.

    Submitters Website:

    Submitters Bio:

    Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.” Roberts is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

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