Thursday, May 03, 2007

Milblogging Update! AR 530-1 Fact Sheet

Wired which broke this story first, ran this update from the Army!

The End of MilBlogging? NOT!

There is an enormous amount of Sturm und Drang in the blogosphere, particularly among military bloggers aka milbloggers. The Army recently published an updated version of its regulation, AR 530-1 regarding operational security or OPSEC. Operational security refers to the need to deny enemy forces information about the who, what, where and how of our operations. The new regulation specifically mentions blogs. Some among us are portending doom, and calling this the end of milblogging.

The heart of the matter is the line in the regulation mentioning bloggers need to:

Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.

This includes, but is not limited to letters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards or other forms of dissemination or documentation.

The other matter of contention is the application to family members. One blogger claimed soldiers would be court martialed if their family members did not submit their blogs for review.

A little rationality needs to be inserted into the discussion here. For starters the new regulation, as far as I can tell does not really create any new authorities for commanders, or any new responsibilities for soldiers under them. It does clarify OPSEC responsibilities. It makes it clear that no soldier in the future will be allowed to plead he did not know what his commanders OPSEC criteria were.

It holds commanders equally responsible, committing all Army commanders to developing OPSEC policies and procedures. A commander can no longer ignore blogging.
If a soldier blogs an OPSEC violation his commander will be questioned about his policies and safeguards. This is not an entirely bad development.

The mention of blogs brings the policy into line with the modern realities of war. Soldiers Blog. We have taken it as a God given right to spew our opinions and the minutiae of our daily existence in war zones. It is not entirely clear that we have lost anything. At least as far back as WWII, officers were censoring soldiers MAIL for OPSEC violations. This right has always existed, for the commander, he just hasn't exercised it much since the 1960s and Vietnam.

Now for the part that seems so odious today. "Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review." OK it says CONSULT. It doesn't say the consulted MUST read it. It means they may review the material, it means they may want to review their guidelines before OKing the Post. It Also means that commanders will become familiar with those who are regularly posting and develop a sense of who they are and what they write. Those who blog positive, security violation free messages on a regular basis may be given more or less free reign. Those who don't understand OPSEC may be censored every time.

As for the idea that family members must submit to prior restraint, or their soldier will be court martialed, that notion is preposterous. Prior restraint, for civilians is unconstitutional, as is judicial punishment for actions of a third party, even in the Army.

Families are effected. The same way they were under the older less clear policy. If Sergeant Screamer sends Mrs Screamer an email with OPSEC sensitive information (like where he is going to be in Iraq next week.), and she publishes a letter to the editor in the Maybury Magazine, the Army can and may sanction Sgt Screamer for his violation. If Sgt. Screamer emails Mrs. Screamer classified (Isecret, top secret etc.) information (eg. a map of his FOB's defenses) and that ends up in MM then not only is he liable to Army punishment, but she can be prosecuted. Remember dissemination of classified information is a crime. Unless you are the NY Times.

There are some downsides to the new policy. Michelle Malkin has a few words about this.
Essentially the Army has scared its own best propaganda arm into, at least a temporary, silence. We all know that we can find negative stories about the military anywhere in the MSM. There's one a day in the NY Times. But good solid positive stories, about what we are doing in Iraq are best reported by milbloggers. And our audience is mostly pro-military as well. My sense is that the situation will eventually obtain equilibrium.


Monday, April 30, 2007

In an Alternate Universe

I got this in an e-mail.

I tracked it down to RiteOn Blog, where you can read the entire piece.

It's a very caustic and very accurate take on what President Bush might plausibly say to the country, if he was fed up enough. Here are some highlights.

Normally, I start these things out by saying “My Fellow Americans…” Not doing it this time. I don’t know who more than half of you are anymore. I do know something terrible has happened, and that you’re really not fellow Americans any longer. I’ll cut right to the chase here: I quit.

The reason I’m quitting is simple. I’m fed up with you people because you have no understanding of what's really going on in the world. Or of what’s going on in this once-great nation of ours. And the majority of you are too damned lazy to do your homework and figure it out.

You’ve been sold a bill of goods by politicians and the news media. Polls show that the majority of you think the economy is in the tank. Despite record numbers of homeowners including record numbers of MINORITY homeowners. Minority business ownership is at an all-time high. Unemployment is as low as it ever was during the Clinton Administration. Despite the shock to our economy of 9/11, the stock market has rebounded to record levels. Meanwhile, all you can do is whine about gas prices, and are too damn stupid to realize that gas prices are high because there’s increased demand in other parts of the world, and because a small handful of noisy idiots are more worried about polar bears and beachfront property than your economic security.

We face real threats in the world. Don’t give me this "blood for oil” thing. If I was trading blood for oil I would’ve already seized Iraq’s oil fields. Don’t give me this ‘Bush Lied People Died’ crap either. If I was the liar you morons take me for, I could’ve easily had chemical weapons planted in Iraq so they could be ‘discovered.’ Instead, I owned up to the fact that the intelligence was faulty.

Let me remind you that the rest of the world thought Saddam had the goods, same as me, and regime change was US policy before I came into office. Some guy named ‘Clinton’ established that policy. You idiots need to understand that we face a unique enemy. Back during the cold war, there were two competing political and economic models. We won that war, because fundamentally, the Communists wanted to survive, just as we do. We were able to outspend and out-tech them. This time the soldiers of our enemy don’t care if they survive.

They want to die. That'd be fine, if they weren’t also committed to taking as many of you with them as they can. But they are. They want to kill you. And the bastards are all over the globe.

You should be grateful that they haven’t gotten any more of us here in the United States since September 11. But you’re not. Because you’ve no idea how hard a small number of intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security people have worked to make sure of that. When this whole mess started, I warned you that this would be a long and difficult fight. I’m disappointed how many of you people think a long and difficult fight amounts to a single season of ‘Survivor’. You think that wars should last a few months, a few years, tops.

Worse, you actively support those who help the enemy. Every time you buy the New York Times, every time you send a donation to a cut-and-run Democrat’s political campaign, you might just as well Fedex a grenade launcher to a Jihadist. It’s easy enough to find the truth. It’s all over the Internet, not just the pages of the New York Times or NBC News. But even if it were, I doubt you’d be any smarter. Most of you would rather watch American Idol.

I could say more about your expectations that the government will always be there to bail you out, even if you’re too stupid to leave a city that’s below sea level and has a hurricane approaching. I could say more about your insane belief that government, not your own wallet, is where the money comes from. But I’ve come to the conclusion that were I to do so, it would sail right over your heads.

So I quit. I’m going back to Crawford. I’ve got an energy-efficient house down there (Al Gore could only dream) and the capability to be fully self-sufficient. Oh, and by the way, Cheney’s quitting too. That means Pelosi is your new President. You asked for it. Watch what she does carefully, because I still have a glimmer of hope that there’re just enough of you remaining who are smart enough to turn this thing around in 2008.

So that’s it. God bless what’s left of America.

Gotta say it makes a point.

KUDOS to RiteOn Blog