YouTube deletes video of McCain singing 'Bomb Iran'

Video-sharing site yanks, then restores, video of Republican presidential contender drawing laughs when crooning about Iran.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
2 min read
YouTube confirmed Friday that it had erroneously deleted and would restore a video of presidential candidate John McCain singing an impromptu ditty about starting a war with Iran.

The Arizona senator joked about attacking the sovereign nation during a campaign stop in South Carolina this week, singing, to the tune of the Beach Boys song "Barbara Ann": "That old, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway."

According to a video recorded by what appears to be a camera phone held by someone at the back of the room, the audience laughed at McCain's rendition of the classic song (the video was restored in the last several hours and can be seen here).

But the clip was deleted by YouTube, which is owned by Google. A spokesman for YouTube, who asked that his name not appear in this article, said, "We appreciate the prompt feedback from our community regarding the McCain video. It was flagged by our users, we reviewed it and it was mistakenly removed. We have examined the situation and have since reinstated the video."

The spokesman refused to answer any other questions, such as when, exactly, the video was deleted or what procedures are in place to ensure that political candidates don't use YouTube's complaint procedure to squelch critics. The popular video-sharing site permits users to flag videos as "inappropriate."

The New Yorker magazine reported in February that, despite the Bush administration's public claims not to have any plans to bomb Iran, the Pentagon has secret plans to carry out a bombing attack if authorized by President Bush. McCain said bombing Iran, which is accused of aiding the Iraq insurgents, may be necessary to protect Israel.

This is not the first time a controversy has erupted over political videos removed by YouTube. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has documented other videos that it says should not have been deleted.

The EFF has filed suit against Viacom on behalf of MoveOn.org and Brave New Films, saying a satire of the The Colbert Report was removed from YouTube following a "baseless" copyright complaint.

"It is time to draw a line in the sand and make clear that taking down political speech first and asking questions later is absolutely unacceptable behavior," Adam Green, civic communications director at MoveOn.org, said in response to the McCain video deletion.

Recently, another anti-Bush video surfaced on YouTube. This one pokes fun at World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz--who is currently embroiled in a controversy over a hiring that violates the organization's policy--in the style of NBC's popular TV show The Office. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards is mocked in a video showing him spending more than two minutes fussing with his hair and camera makeup.