Milblogs. Iraq’s Latest Casualty
Posted by Exile on May 3, 2007
I couldn’t believe this when I saw it in the news. The US army is practising censorship on its milbloggers. They are no longer allowed to blog freely about life (and death) in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least, not before they have cleared it with the C.O. I thought they were fighting for freedom of speech and expression amongst other things. I must have misunderstood something. This from Wired News:
The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.
Military officials have been wrestling for years with how to handle troops who publish blogs. Officers have weighed the need for wartime discretion against the opportunities for the public to personally connect with some of the most effective advocates for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq — the troops themselves. The secret-keepers have generally won the argument, and the once-permissive atmosphere has slowly grown more tightly regulated. Soldier-bloggers have dropped offline as a result.
The new rules, obtained by Wired News, require a commander be consulted before every blog update.
“This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging,” said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. “No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has — it’s most honest voice out of the war zone. And it’s being silenced.”
Active-duty troops aren’t the only ones affected by the new guidelines. Civilians working for the military, Army contractors — even soldiers’ families — are all subject to the directive as well.
What a damn shame.
And shame on the US Army commanders.