Speak only when spoken to

Jay Rosen sends a link to Wired’s report that the military has clamped down on blogs with new rules that essentially silence them, requiring approval before posting. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. I was amazed that the military allowed blogs in the first place. Oh, it seemed to make sense: We heard the voice of the soldier at the front line telling us his own story, giving us that other side of the war. But now that there isn’t an other side, things have changed. They have reverted to their natural state: The military is the ultimate control structure and open communication always challenges control.

At Milblogging, a commenter, Rachel, says: “This would have have a negative effect not only on our soldiers’ morale, but on their loved ones as well. Just the possibility of “this silence”is so saddening.”

: THURSDAY UPDATE: Now Wired says the military says it won’t enforce the rules.

  • Jeff,

    I often agree with you – not this time. I almost always agree that more information is better then less. But there are limits. Phrases like “Operational Security” and “Need to know” aren’t Military double-speak. It’s important to control the information that may help those who desire to cause us, or our interests, harm.

    If you can agree with that, and if you actually dig a little deeper into this, what has “changed” isn’t really a change at all – it’s a clarification – if you are posting anything that has anything to do with who you are stationed with, where you are stationed, or what you are doing, it needs cleared. That is not new.

    And I don’t buy the censoring soldier’s argument – we have never had the type of communication between soldier’s and families as we have now. A thousand miles at sea? No problem – you can have a video chat. In a forward post in Iraq? You still have access to snail mail AND the Internet. Emails can be sent, video chats can occur.

    I think you called this one wrong. There are damned good reasons to set limits on what soldier’s can and cannot share with the world. If you don’t understand that, then you’ve never been in a position where your very life depends on people keeping their mouths shut!

    I think this is an example of irresponsible journalism – you are making it sound as if there is a goal to silence our troops – yet you make no argument to support that at all. You make it sound as if all communications with loved ones have to be approved by some commander, and that is absolutely untrue.

    You dropped the ball on this one – you didn’t do your homework. And it shows.

  • I’m all for emerging media, but when you get right down to it, the military isn’t about self-expression OR morale-building. It’s about blowing up shit and killing people. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • We also have a post on this yesterday at Politics 2.0.

    BTW, Jay Rosen is really amazing and I have a lot of respect for him (Jeff is of course also a leader in our field).

  • For Rob La Gesse:

    I agree with you, Rob, to the point at which a soldier’s location and duty become involved – in that instance, I think even email should be censored. It’s too easy for a skilled hacker to get access to someone’s email account.

    However, in instances where we have clear obfuscation and coverup (read: the U.S. military) it becomes necessary to allow whistleblowers and watchdogs a venue…even if they’re in uniform.

    It has been brought home to us that the ‘chain of command’ concept does not apply, here. Officers AND Brass were involved in the Pat Tillman affair – and that has called the entire military apparatus into question as regards honesty. Let’s see…then we have Abu Ghraib, Walter REED, Jessica Lynch… rapes and murders, oh, those rambunctious LADS and GALS (ref: Loser Lynndie England) in our armed forces…tisk, tisk, tisk…

    The culture of stonewalling fostered by this moronic administration has spread it’s cancer throughout the ranks of the military. If you can’t trust the brass to tell the truth, then it falls to those with the moral conscience and courage to find what methods they can to get the truth out. They should probably think twice about whether or not to publish the fact that they lack adequate ARMOR PLATING on their vehicles to resist I.E.D.s, but word has to get out somewhere…

    Give me a BREAK, La Gesse. You want ‘responsible journalism?’ Try coming up with a responsible MILITARY first…

  • Army Lawyer, a JAG officer, had a really nice take on this.


    Basically, nothing about the regulation changed, except adding a provision that specifically mentions blogs. The rules are the same as always.