From FOXNews.com comes this story about regulating e-mail and blogging within the military. I understand, and don’t disagree, that there is certain information that our armed forces should not be disseminating to the general public, or even to family members. Therefore, some regulation is necessary. Here’s the story from FOXnews:
Army Issues Stringent New Regulations on E-Mail, Blogs
Thursday, May 03, 2007
The Army is cracking down on soldiers who blog about their experiences on the battlefield or want to send a quick e-mail home. New regulations require troops to clear the contents of blog posts and e-mails with a superior officer before sending them out, Wired magazine reported.
The Pentagon has quietly updated its code of conduct regarding acceptable forms of communication on its limited-access Army Knowledge Online intranet. And the regulations aren’t just for GIs serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, either. Contractors, civilians who work for the military and even the families of soldiers are subject to the strict limitations. (emphasis mine)
Soldiers who serve in warzones are already required to register their blogs with the government, but some writers are afraid the new regulations will effectively end the culture of “milblogs.”
According to the regulations, failure to comply could subject a soldier to “administrative, disciplinary, contractual, or criminal action” — or even a court-martial.
What disturbs me is the statement in the story about regulating the families of soldiers and what they can put on the internet.
There was an incident last spring regarding my blog. My daughter (who is in the Army) was called on the carpet and asked to request that I remove some information about her training from my blog. The operative word here is REQUEST. I was unaware that the information was sensitive in nature; as soon as I was asked to remove it, I did. OF MY OWN FREE WILL. I would have hollered “censorship” if I had been forced to remove it, unless I was convinced that this was somehow putting our military in danger. I would never deliberately post something that would compromise our military. Criticize, yes. Compromise – NEVER.
To make it worse, even though civilians and families are included in the restrictions, we don’t have access to the regulations so I can learn what is, and is not, acceptable. From the Wired report linked above:
But, while the regulations may apply to a broad swath of people, not everybody affected can actually read them. In a Kafka-esque turn, the guidelines are kept on the military’s restricted Army Knowledge Online intranet. Many Army contractors — and many family members — don’t have access to the site. Even those able to get in are finding their access is blocked to that particular file.
Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? What’s a mother to do? If I break these rules (that I’m not even allowed to see), who gets in trouble? Me? Or my daughter?
And apparently, the scope is very broad. Also from the Wired article:
The new regulations (and their author) take an unusually expansive view of what kind of unclassified information a foe might find useful. In an article published by the official Army News Service, Maj. Ceralde “described how the Pentagon parking lot had more parked cars than usual on the evening of Jan. 16, 1991, and how pizza parlors noticed a significant increase of pizza to the Pentagon…. These observations are indicators, unclassified information available to all … that Operation Desert Storm (was about to) beg(i)n.”
So information on pizza orders is out. Check. What else am I not allowed to blog about?
I want more information. I want to know what is, and what is not, allowed under these regs. I want to know who will get into trouble if I “break” a rule that I don’t know about. I’m sorry, but ignorance IS an excuse if I am prohibited from reading the regulation.
I don’t want to jeopardize our national security, but I fail to see how my talking about the length of time a soldier is stationed at a certain location for AIT does that.
H/T to Frank for sending me this link!