Bloggers on the Army's new military blog restrictions.

Bloggers on the Army's new military blog restrictions.

Bloggers on the Army's new military blog restrictions.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 4 2007 6:46 PM

Johnny, Close Your Laptop

Military bloggers are incensed over the possibility of being censored. And the pundits respond to last night's Republican presidential debate.

Johnny, close your laptop: Military and technology blogger Noah Shachtman reported Wednesday on a new directive that could shut down soldiers' blogs. According to the Army's updated Operations Security, enlisted soldiers will have to "consult with their immediate supervisor" before posting any content to their personal Web site "that might contain sensitive and/or critical information."

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Austin Bay says: "At the minimum this is a media disaster for the Army public affairs office. OPSEC is a concern, no one dispute that, but The War for Modernity is an information and philosophical battle as well as a war of soldiers and bullets." Popular military blog Blackfive thinks the regulation is retrograde and harmful: "The soldiers who will attempt to fly under the radar and post negative items about the military, mission, and commanders will continue to do so under the new regs. The soldiers who've been playing ball the last few years, the vast, VAST, majority will be reduced. In my mind, this reg will accomplish the exact opposite of its intent. The good guys are restricted and the bad continue on. … Fanatic-like adherence to OPSEC will do us little good if we lose the few honest voices that tell the truth about The Long War."

Bush critic Alan Rosenblatt at Moving Targets is characteristically appalled: "If these developments seem hypocritical given our policy of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East and the world, it is because they are. Consistent with its long-standing philosophy of how to save things that are important to us, the Bush Administration feels that they have to destroy freedom in order to save it."

ArmyLawyer at MilBlogs clarifies the Army's new restrictions and points out that enforcement falls to the commanders: "Commanders are as varied as snowflakes. Will some lean too far forward and say 'no blogs'? Yes. but they could have done that before. While a commander may technically say 'No Myspace' 'No Ebay' and 'No AKO forum posting' they are not obligated to do so under the regulation and, truth be told, commanders that ARE so lacking in common sense probably have other concerns within their units."

Iraq war veteran Dadmanly worries about that commander discretion: "While that is always the case for a Commander, particularly in a combat zone or at time of war, it would have been better if this kind of clarification or guidance had been part of the latest update of the Regulation."

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Patriot at A Soldier's Perspective sees the "not military-related" leeway on the new OPSEC regulations ridiculous, as military blogs are, by definition, military-related. Moreover: "Without military bloggers who, to date, have not been constrained by such silly requirements as being forced to ask permission before publishing an opinion, the American people would be clueless about the good our country is doing. We would not get the man on the ground perspective and the media's false portrayal would rule the roost."

Read more about the OPSEC rules for blogging.

Duke one out for the Gipper: Last night the 10 declared Republican candidates for president had their first debate in the Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif. Abortion, stem-cell research, the war, and above all, who was the standard-bearer of Reagan himself? were the key chords struck.

Independent conservative Andrew Sullivan says McCain won: "The good news is that they all understand that the Iraq war has been a disaster in terms of execution. No one defended Bush's handling of it - who can? - but McCain's strong criticism of a 'badly mismanaged' war gave him the edge in my book. McCain was easily the strongest on spending (although, of course, my softest spot on that front was for Ron Paul). He also forthrightly supported evolution which puts him in the ranks of sane Republicans."

The Iowan Krusty Konservative " thought Chris Matthews did a great job, much better than Brian Williams did with the Democrats last week. Maybe Matthews and MSNBC used the days between the two events to improve on the first debate. I'd like to do winners and losers but I don't think anyone walked away with a victory last night." But conservative Mark Levin at the National Review's And Another Thing… givesMatthews low marks: "Chris Matthews is not a professional journalist. He's a political junkie with deep Democrat party roots. Many of his questions weren't intended to elicit a candidate's substantive views but to play gotcha and embarrass. …I never thought I'd say this, but we could have used Brian Williams last night."

Lefty John Judis at the New Republic's The Plank uses before-and-after polls to suss out last night's winner: "In early April, Survey USA asked California Republican primary voters whom they would choose as their nominee. The results were 43 percent for Giuliani, 24 percent for McCain and 7 percent for Romney. Last night, Survey USA asked Republicans who won the debate. 33 percent said Giuliani, 17 percent McCain and 14 percent Romney." But Slate's Mickey Kaus makes an important point: "Survey USA polled only California debate watchers. A mere 45% of whom were Republican. 53% of whom were pro-choice. That's not the national Republican primary electorate. ... Still ..."

Read more debate reactions. In Slate, John Dickerson analyzes the candidates' performances.