Military Bans Blogs (Part IV)

Wonkette gets a letter from a marine in Iraq, complaining about the military blocking internet sites:

Unfortunately anonomizers don’t work out here (never have). Anyway, I had a few minutes today and thought I’d look and see what else was banned on the Marine web here. I think the results speak for themselves:

  • Wonkette – Forbidden, this page is categorized as: Forum/Bulletin Boards, Politics/Opinion
  • Bill O’Reilly – OK
  • Air America – Forbidden, this page is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion
  • Rush Limbaugh – OK
  • ABC News “The Note” – OK
  • Website of the Al Franken Show – Forbidden, this page is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion
  • G. Gordon Liddy Show – OK
  • Don & Mike Show – Forbidden, this page is categorized as: Profanity, Entertainment/Recreation/Hobbies

Hmmm. I blogged about this almost two years ago, here and here. At the time I was working on an Air Force base in Arizona, nowhere near a combat zone. The sites I reviewed were:

  • Talking Points Memo – blocked
  • Boing Boing – blocked
  • This Modern World – blocked
  • Eschaton – blocked
  • Daily Kos – blocked
  • The Agitator – blocked
  • Kim DuToit – OK
  • Daily Dish – OK
  • Daily Pundit – OK

In addition, I noted that while Molly Ivins’ editorials were blocked, Rush Limbaugh’s web site came right up.

This kind of censorship even extends to what’s displayed on military TV sets. There’s a USAF regulation that says public area TVs must be tuned to CNN. But walk into any USAF waiting area today and the TVs will probably be tuned to Fox News. I have no idea what’s going on in the other services, but I bet it’s the same.

As Wonkette’s correspondent remarks, the results speak for themselves. This is, quite simply, political censorship. Heavy-handed and wrong, unconstitutionally so. It’s un-American, and it’s high time bloggers and the press start talking about it. Oh, by the way, my other blog is is one of those banned by the military. So, you see, I have a dog in this fight. But whether you blog or not, so do you.

© 2006 – 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


5 comments to Military Bans Blogs (Part IV)

  • Dick 03/15/06 4:25 AM

    Paul, I didn’t know you were banned! This is a first for me. I’ve never known anyone who has been banned. I have always found your stuff fun to read and certainly well within all bounds. Is this anything like making Nixon’s Enemies List? Are congratulations in order?

    I suppose the government has the right to control what is available on its TVs, computers, and radios that are on its property, much like parents can control what is available in their home. Okay, don’t give me any static about we’re not children and it is taxpayer’s money, the principle is the same. The person in charge has the right, and duty, to exercise reasonable control over areas under his/her responsibility. For example, the government, or a business, can deny employees access to porn sites using its computers and internet lines. It only becomes censureship when the site itself is banned. No individual, or organization, is obligated to provide access to every venue an individual may be interested in. Another example would be that BX’s are under no obligation to stock my books just because I want them to.

    Still, having said that, have you asked for an explanation? There are issues of reasonable accountabilty involved here. Now that might really make for interesting reading, not to mention discussion. Maybe there is a very simple explanation, like some 0-6 got pissed off at the Hash. I like that one and would have no trouble believing it.

  • Paul Woodford 03/15/06 9:49 AM

    Dick, I should have said “blocked,” as in blocked by government/military internet content filters. I believe we owe our blockage to the Half-Mind Catalog, which shares the domain (and which contains a mega-filthy collection of bawdy songs). So it isn’t my politics – or yours – that’s activating military and government filters – it’s those damn dirty songs we used to sing in the bar at Soesterberg!

    But my political point is that left-of-center political sites are, in fact, being systematically filtered by some military authorities, while right-of-center sites are not. I don’t know if political blocking is consistent across the military, but I do know that it is being done by the USMC in Iraq and by the USAF here, and I think it’s safe to assume it’s widespread.

    And that is simply wrong. Military authorities, apparantly all on their own, are equating liberal and progressive political discussion with pornography. Rush Limbaugh – not to mention unreconstructed racist fearmongers like Kim DuToit – are okay, while Molly Ivins is not?

    What they are doing is wrong. I agree – the question needs to be asked. So who do I ask?

  • Dick 03/16/06 3:29 AM

    Who to ask? Good question. I’d start with PAM (Public Affairs-media) in the Pentagon. If you don’t get an answer, query your Representative in the House. Now that will get someone’s attention.

    As to the filtering you mentioned, there is a small contingent in the Air Force of Christian evangelists, etc. who could be confusing their beliefs with their duties. It has happened before. Fortunately, the military has survived it all before. I suspect that it will survive again. (Shades of the old Morman Mafia that descended on the bases in Thailand during the unpleasantness over there.)

    One last observation. The military is by nature conservative and authoritarian. It has to be if it is to function effectively. Because it has a command structure, it can get things done when your normal civilian organizations stand around with their thumbs up their you-know-what. Katrina proved that.

  • gwendolyne

    Uncle Paul,

    I sent this out to my professor at the Naval Postgraduate School since we were discussing the new Pentagon story: Pentagon Blocks MySpace and YouTube
    If you have any other insight, please send it my way!

  • Gwendolyne,

    Your comment alerted me to the fact that I never updated the internal links in the military censorship entries. I fixed the links and retitled each entry while I was at it: Military Bans Blogs (Parts I-V). I don’t work on base now, but when I visit the clinic there the TVs are still tuned to Fox rather than CNN.

    Actually, I work for the VA now, and the only blogs/websites filtered there are gambling and shopping sites – and of course obscene ones, like my old Half-Mind Catalog (we ran an article once about some British harriettes posing nude for a calendar to make money for charity – apparently the filter picked up the word “nude” and now it’s a pr0n site for all time).

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