Military blocks websites from troops

By Rori Black

The Pentagon has blocked access to 13 websites citing concerns for security and bandwidth. Among those listed are video and music sharing sites such as and Pandora, social networking sites such as, and the photo sharing site Photobucket. Is the pentagon doing the right thing, or are “security and resources” a red herring for something more interesting.

As for security and bandwidth being the main purported impetus behind the decision, on the one hand, the company you work for probably blocks sites for similar reasons. They do not want to waste resources (bandwidth, your time), and they do not want to open up their networks to vulnerabilities. On the other hand, we are now four years into this war and they are just now becoming money and security conscious? One can argue that with congress threatening to cut the purse strings, the DOD/Pentagon is cutting back on extraneous expenses such as the high price of satellite service. Videos are resource hogs.

Perhaps security is an issue. They certainly wouldn’t want anyone to give away locations and troop movements. Fair enough, but how many other social networking, video sharing, and photo archive sites are there outside of the 13 in question? However, if security was such a huge concern, why not block them all or ban recording devices? In addition, the ban not include the Internet cafes that soldiers in Iraq use that are not connected to the Defense Department’s network. There’s a loophole big enough to drive an unarmored Humvee through.

Consider if you will information flow issues.

The Pentagon was anything but honest and forthcoming regarding their version of reality in Iraq and their handling Pat Tillman’s death. The Defence Department has also played a role in information control in the and the on-again, off-again, on-again saga of Ed Schultz on Armed Forces Radio. Finally, there is Iraq the model, a blog purporting to be an Iraqi’s positive take on the war, but is actually subsidized by Spirit of America, and run by the “Middle East Editors” for Pajamas Media, a network of right-wing blogs.

One might be justified in being skeptical of the DOD/Pentagon/Administration’s motives.

The powers that be cannot staunch the flow of information coming out of Iraq and from the armed forces expressing their morale issues, frustration, anger, and speaking the truth about the situation over there. The timing of this ruling comes between two “surges”, the first of which seemed only to increase sectarian violence, the second, just as half-hearted, promises to be just as ineffectual. The administration, including their favorite water carrier, McCain, love to tell us how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and trying to limit the amount of information the American public receives regarding the escalation of violence and our ever-loosening grip on the Iraqi government. Do they think that by attempting to silence voices such as this one, that they can continue to “propel the propaganda”?

If the restrictions are intended to prevent soldiers from giving or receiving bad news, they could also prevent them from providing positive reports from the field, said Noah Shachtman, who runs a national security blog for Wired Magazine.

“This is as much an information war as it is bombs and bullets,” he said. “And they are muzzling their best voices.”

4 replies »

  1. This one comes a few days after I saw a couple things online from soldier sources, neither of which really made me want to support the war, you know? As I watched those vids I wondered if leadership had any idea.

    Apparently the answer is yes. This seems mostly about trying to control anything coming out of Iraq that would give comfort to those who want to end the occupation…..

  2. It’s fortunate that things like proxy servers don’t exist. Because then soldiers could use covert means to access or provide information.

    Information wants to be free. And it cannot be stopped.

  3. That’s maybe one of the most critical things to understand about the age we live in. It’s not a concept that’s all that hard to grasp, and yet it’s one that SO MANY PEOPLE can’t get their heads around. Obviously this is one arena where that’s more than true. In my business life I see it everywhere I turn, too. It goes back to the world of old one-way gatekeeper media where you CONTROL message and info and access. Very top-down, very hierarchical.

    So yeah, and what I said here….