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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Clarification on milbloggers from Tony Snow; UPDATE: Hugh has more!

Tony Snow is back at the White House after his hiatus to deal with his cancer. On the heels of yesterday's dust-up over the new Pentagon regulations on milbloggers. Today, Captain Ed picks up where that controversy left off. Jon Ward, who will be joining Captain Ed today on his Blog Talk Radio program, will be addressing this issue. Mr. Ward had an exchnge with Mr. Snow about this during the WH press briefing this morning. Here's the exchange:

Q: A follow-up, a second question would be, the Pentagon has required all military bloggers to seek approval for their blogging and their -- I think also their e-mail. Some bloggers and military and conservative commentators have said the government is shutting down --

MR. SNOW: Well, that's -- from what we -- from what we understand, that is being overreported a little bit in the following sense.

First, I'm not sure that that is operational, that request. No. 2, to the extent that they have asked -- and I would refer you to the Pentagon for full comment on this, but my understanding is that they're concerned about matters of operational security -- certainly people giving their opinions about what's going on -- as long as they do not disclose information that is going to jeopardize operations ongoing or in the future or in some way give away information that will make it easier for the enemy to kill Americans or Iraqis, and that's normal in a time of war. There is always censorship in a time of war mainly to protect the people who are doing the fighting, similarly with e-mails, but there is no wholesale shutdown.

Again, I'm just giving you what I know, and I would encourage you to talk to the Pentagon for further detail. But my understanding is there's no wholesale shutting down of blogs or of e-mail. But on the other hand, there is sensitivity to the fact that you have to be careful when you're doing these things not jeopardize yourself, your colleagues, the operations, the Iraqis and the overall mission.

Obviously no active-duty milblogger is going to divulge sensitive information. Their goals are simple: Communicate to the general public how things are going in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to communicate with their families and friends. No one brought up the idea of "real-time" reporting. There's no way in Hell that soldiers are going to be blogging while fighting, so that straw man point carries no weight in the argument.

Our gripe -- mine and Marcie's -- is the idea that these reports might be sanitized; that being that the CO's would vet their pieces before they went up. Now, if they want to redact something -- something like names, places, tactics, etc. -- that's fine. We get that. We're not expecting to dig up information like that from a milblogger. We want the information about what it's like on the ground, the progress of the Iraqis, how things are being secured, etc.

What the Pentagon, I hope, understands is that they are losing the Information War, and it's due, in no small part, to the MSM's blatant refusal to report the good news in Iraq. There are plenty of bloggers and correspondants that are covering the good things. Those are people like Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Michael Totten, and even correspondants for Pajamas Media. The media won't do it. They refuse to do it. And when they're made to, they sound so somber, so depressed that they have to report good news.

When we pulled Saddam out of the spider hole, there were no smiles on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, or CNN. When we finally sent Zarqawi to Allah, the same thing occurred again in the media. They don't want to give the public the FULL STORY of Iraq. They want their own little worldview pushed onto the public. Bloggers change that. They do an excellent job of destroying the myths perpetuated by agenda journalism today, and that's why there are still so many people across the nation that are supporting the troops and the mission.

Look, no one likes war. No one WE know of will sit there and say that we need to bomb these guys or that nation. (And if they do, we haven't heard it, and they'd be facing a firestorm from both of us. People who say such things are nutters, and have no concept of war, or how the military shoul dbe utilized.) But with the Left's hostility towards the men and women in the field and their mission (and of course their commander in chief) milbloggers can accomplish what the guys in the Pentagon are seemingly unable to accomplish.

Publius II

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has the Army's clarification. Oddly, this seems to be "business as usual," and someone at Wired (the guys who originally published the story yesterday) jumped the gun and played Chicken Little. Here are the two relevant sections from their clarification, courtesy of Hugh Hewitt:

In no way will every blog post/update a Soldier makes on his or her blog need to be monitored or first approved by an immediate supervisor and Operations Security (OPSEC) officer. After receiving guidance and awareness training from the appointed OPSEC officer, that Soldier blogger is entrusted to practice OPSEC when posting in a public forum.

Army Regulation 350-1, “Operations Security,” was updated April 17, 2007 – but the wording and policies on blogging remain the same from the July 2005 guidance first put out by the U.S. Army in Iraq for battlefield blogging. Since not every post/update in a public forum can be monitored, this regulation places trust in the Soldier, Civilian Employee, Family Member and contractor that they will use proper judgment to ensure OPSEC.

Soldiers do not have to seek permission from a supervisor tosend personal E-mails. Personal E-mails are considered privatecommunication. However, AR 530-1 does mention if someone later posts an E-mail in a public forum containing information sensitive to OPSECconsiderations, an issue may then arise.

Just as in 2005 and 2006, a Soldier should inform his or herOPSEC officer and immediate supervisor when establishing a blog for twoprimary reasons: 1. To provide the command situational awareness. 2. To allow the OPSEC officer an opportunity to explain to theSoldier matters to be aware of when posting military-related content ina public, global forum.

Now, when my wife gets home, I can show her this, and she might calm down a bit. (I hope so because I'm not in the mood to throw out our new column in favor of a hastily constructed, emotional one on this issue.) Not that I wouldn't do a lot for the wife, but there's a difference in raising a concern, and going off half-cocked, and last night wasn't pleasant with her being in the mood she was in, especially when she started her finals today.

But as far as I can see, there's nothing wrong with this policy. It takes into account the need of the soldiers to maintain a blog, and emphasizes the OPSEC questions. In addition, the troops will be instructed on OPSEC guidelines. Notice the key word up there is "trust." Once trained properly, the troops will be entrusted to police themselves.

Well, this is typical of the military in a time of war. FDR ordered that all soldier's mail was to be read before it was passed onto those it was addressed to. Security is essential in a war, and in the age of the 'Net, there are even more concerns now. I, personally, have no problem with this policy.

I'd like to add that while I do respect Patterico a great deal I don't think that the alarm raised yesterday was "overblown." We responded with information in hand, and the Pentagon wasn't exactly being forthcoming yesterday. Additionally, the question is now whether WIRED screwed up the story in the first place.

The story made it sound like the blogs were going to be shut down. We reacted. Call it reacting badly if you want, but this is one aspect of the war that has to be kept up. Information is key in a war, and not just for propoganda purposes. As I stated above the media isn't doing their job. It falls to others to take up that slack, and the milbloggers are doing just that.

Captain Ed raises the same question about WIRED that I did:

What does this mean? It means that bloggers will get trained in OpSec rules and regulations, and then allowed to police their own conduct. The key word here is "trust". The Army got this right today.

Now, the question is whether Wired got it wrong in the first place.

Publius II


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