Putting the "War" in Warblogging

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Here's a pretty interesting Wired magazine round-up on military webloggers serving in Iraq. One detail I did not know:

For now, the Pentagon officially tolerates this free-form online journalism and in-house peanut gallery, even as the brass takes cautious steps to control it. A new policy instituted this spring requires all military bloggers inside Iraq to register with their units. It directs commanders to conduct quarterly reviews to make sure bloggers aren't giving out casualty information or violating operational security or privacy rules. Commanding officers shut down a blog that reported on the medical response to a suicide bombing late last year in Mosul. The Army has also created the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell to monitor compliance. And Wired has learned that a Pentagon review is under way to better understand the overall implications of blogging and other Internet communications in combat zones.

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  1. Sounds a hell of a lot more rational than many companies.

  2. I can see the potential for abuse here, as commanders could selectively censor blogs for political reasons, but I don’t really see a way around that problem. The military needs to be able to censor information being disseminated by people in the theater.

  3. This is a tough situation for the military. I believe military blogs have an overall positive impact on how people view soldiers and their mission, but certain information just can’t be put out their for public consumption without great risk.

    I would say as long as it’s left mainly in the hands of the CO’s to do the censoring things should be alright. Sure, some will censor for ulterior motives, but I think that’s still better than a top down one-size-fits-all directive.

  4. their -> there

  5. I think that material should be embargoed instead of censored. One year should do it. There is no problem with knowing troop movements that long after the fact. There is no problem with knowing body counts, EVER.

    My solution here addresses Joe’s valid, countervailing concerns about military secrecy and partisan politics.

  6. Btw, I am not sure whether all warzone blog material should be embargoed or just the sensitive stuf. At least the sensitive stuf, but maybe all would be easier regime and less subject to corruption in the embargo selection process.

  7. Does this affect comments as well or just bloggers? I think it’s a prudent policy, there needs to besome control of the info that leaves the field. Letters from the front lines are censored for this kind of info, I don’t see why blogs should be any different. We don’t want a situation where a blogger accidentally pulls a Geraldo in Afghanistan.

  8. I agree with the first commenter. This is far more sensible that most companies. I think the military is showing a degree of trust in mil bloggers. And lets face it if anyone appreciates what can happen if they do something stupid its military bloggers.

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