Military Blogs are being monitored for content – this should come as no surprise… it makes absolute sense that any entity will monitor information flow, opinion, content and will exploit such information whenever possible. In the current conflict that we face it is a sure bet that US, International and enemy personnel monitor all information sources to include Blogs.
Some blogs have stated that this monitoring is somehow a restriction of Blog site freedom of speech… an draconian suppression of the “truth”. I recently experienced the phenomenon with this blog of receiving such monitoring. I will say, there is some intimidation being felt as a mil-bloggers when a military agency “contacts “ the Blog site and offers an alternate point of view or a link to their site. You may have noted the addition of Military sites to several Bloggers lately as they are contacted by such monitoring efforts. The Military establishment efforts are clumsy perhaps, but not yet so indefensable.
I have no doubt that the Defense establishment has likely shut down soldier sites through heavy handed local policy or enforcement of the DoD warning that includes a section specifically about blogs.
*BLOGS,* OR WEB LOGS, POSTED TO PUBLIC WEBSITES ARE INCREASINGLY USED BY MILITARY PERSONNEL AS PERSONAL JOURNALS. COMMANDERS SHALL ENSURE SUBORDINATES ARE AWARE THAT, ….. PERSONAL BLOGS (I.E., THOSE NOT HAVING DOD SPONSORSHIP AND PURPOSE) MAY NOT BE CREATED/MAINTAINED DURING NORMAL DUTY HOURS AND MAY NOT CONTAIN INFORMATION ON MILITARY ACTIVITIES THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. SUCH INFORMATION INCLUDES COMMENTS ON DAILY MILITARY ACTIVITIES AND OPERATIONS, UNIT MORALE, RESULTS OF OPERATIONS, STATUS OF EQUIPMENT, AND OTHER INFORMATION THAT MAY BE BENEFICIAL TO ADVERSARIES.
The rule was developed to enable commander’s to restrict Blogs and websites in the interests of operations security. The instantaneous nature of the internet can cause current operations to be potentially compromised by Blogger content. In those cases where such conditions exist – it makes absolute sense to shut the Blogger down or curb the questionable content.
What is disturbing to me is the sense that opinion, comments on subjective matters such as unit morale, comments regarding the Iraq War in general and other individual opinion topics may be subject to censure. My Fellow Mil-Bloggers all have different views and opinions – the sum of which would paint a pretty accurate picture of soldier and Military oriented public opinion. We all remember that suppression or denying freedom of expression is not in keeping with this countries constitution. There are already too many Freedoms given up by soldiers when they put on the uniform for sake of “Military discipline” They are fighting for the rights of all Americans in Iraq. We should allow them the right to voice opinion and comment with the caveat that the views expressed are their own on matters of their own choosing when security is not compromised. Commanders should insure that local PAO efforts do not sanitize information within this policy to the point of being the "party line" merely for the sake of conformity to Senior Leadership views. I think we would find that credibility of the Military establishment as a whole will be supported by a free exchange of comment from the soul of its inner workings.
As Bloggers we must remain diligent to government censure – thus- two quotes in closing:
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
Thomas Jefferson - 3rd President of the United States (1801-1809)
"Information voids will be filled by rumors and speculation unless they are preempted by open, credible and trustworthy communication."