Army Cracks Down on Milblogs, Shoots Self in Foot

Blackfive’s Matt Burden reports that an overzealous attention to operational security is causing a greater crackdown on milblogs in Iraq and elsewhere. The negative consequences, not surprisingly, far outweigh the good.

Warning bloggers of possible violations is a good thing. But mindlessly cracking down on them without considering the consequences to the positive information flow will only create a cadre of negative military bloggers flying under the radar that will become the anti-military poster children for the New York Times and CNN.

And, as Noah Shachtman points out,

In an age when so many troops have access to the Internet — and “open source intelligence” is becoming so critical — it’s only natural that military higher-ups have grown concerned about what’s posted online. But OPSEC isn’t the only dimension to the counter-terror fight. This is, as the cliche goes, a battle of hearts and minds, after all. That battle largely takes place in the press, broadly defined. And, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed earlier this year, “our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but… our country has not adapted.” Just the other day, the New York Times shrieked about Iraqi insurgents using YouTube to spread fear.

So you would think that the Defense Department would be doing everything it could to encourage positive coverage of the war —- to bring stories of brave American troops, risking their lives for Mideast democracy, to the Internet browsers everywhere. But Rumsfeld’s penchant for secrecy — and the military’s fear that even the smallest, most innocuous detail about American operations could give insurgents the upper hand —- has scuttled this crucial media mission.

Damned shortsighted.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.