October 13, 2006


"Big Brother is not watching you, but 10 members of a Virginia National Guard unit might be," according to the Army. The Manassas-based Guardsmen are on a one-year assignment to clamp down on both "official and unofficial Army Web sites for operational security violations."

The team, working "under the direction of the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell" hunts for "documents, pictures and other items that may compromise security" -- and then orders the parties to take the offensive content offline.

Not that the material is top secret or anything, an Army News Service article notes.

[..]Since the relatively wide-open days following the Iraq invasion in 2003, the Pentagon has been slowly tightening the screws on military bloggers. Officers started busting frontline diarists for their websites. In Iraq, new rules required bloggers to check with their commanders before posting. Then, in August, a messageWEB SITE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES, DECEMBER 7, 1998." came highest levels of the military that "EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, NO INFORMATION MAY BE PLACED ON WEBSITES THAT ARE READILY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC UNLESS IT HAS BEEN REVIEWED FOR SECURITY CONCERNS AND APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MEMORANDUM

"So much for military blogging," said one officer, deployed in Iraq, when the ruling came down. Not that the officer -- an active blogger back in the States -- was doing much public writing while on the front lines. "The Army's guidance on OPSEC [operational security] has been broad and ambiguous enough to chill my speech," he wrote to me. "Discretion is clearly the better part of valor where OPSEC rules are concerned, because the sensitivity of any particular detail is in the eye of the beholder."

Other soldiers, even ones stationed back home, took similar measures. Read on...

While there's no question that one of the lessons learned from the first Gulf War was that those against whom we are combatting have access to CNN too, so it's not a good idea to broadcast strategies and troop location, there is something more sinister about this.

It's much easier to say things are going better in Iraq if you don't have the boots on the ground refuting that with their experiences, isn't it?

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