milblogs on veteran's day 11.11.2005, 2:20 PM
posted by lisa lynch
Thought it would be appropriate today to talk about what's going on with military blogging. Last August, John Hockenberry explored the world of war blogging (or milblogging) at length in a Wired article, The Blogs of War. Hockenberry noted that war bloggers are not just recording events -- rather, "they engage in the 21st-century contact sport called punditry, and like their civilian counterparts, follow few rules of engagement. They mobilize sympathizers to ship body armor to reserve units in combat, raise funds for families of wounded soldiers, deliver shoes to barefoot Afghani kids, and even take aim at media big shots." He also drew a connection between the influence and prominence of milblogs and the few restrictions imposed on them by the military: what's radical about milblogs is that "anyone can publicly post a dispatch, and if the Pentagon reads these accounts at all, it's at the same time as the rest of us." Still, Hockenberry added, even the bloggers themselves were feeling like the freedom they enjoyed wouldn't last.
How right he was. Only a week after the article ran, the Army issued a memo to all personnel saying they were going to crack down on the milbloggers. It's probably not a stretch to imagine that the Wired piece and a similar article in the Washington Post caught the eye of someone in the Public Relations office. According to an NPR story on the topic, some soldiers felt like the crackdown had a less to do with security than with the fact that some military bloggers were becoming increasingly sour about the war. Since the new regulations were released in October, several influential milblogs have been "vanished" from the web by the Army. One notable recent example is Daniel Goetz's All The King's Horses, a eloquently written blog by a patriotic but disenchanted soldier in Iraq. Goetz's final post, on October 22, was a creepily Orwellian retraction (literally, since he titled it Double Plus Ungood) of what he'd been blogging in his final weeks:
"For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq...Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction. I apologize for any misunderstandings that might understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has become restricted."
There's been a great deal of discussion of David's fate in the blogosphere. Daniel's girlfriend, who has been blogging herself in Daniel's absence, posted his entired deleted blog on her own site.
K.G. Schneider on November 11, 2005 6:15 PM:
It is sad but unsurprising. What would be nice is if sympathetic bloggers could front posts for military members. But I suppose those posts would be discredited... the whole point is that the milbloggers are authoritative sources about the realit(ies) of what they see.
kim white on November 13, 2005 7:59 PM:
"All the Kings Horses" is an amazing blog. I followed the link and ended up reading most of it. I love the fact that the web is allowing us to get the story of what it's like in Iraq directly from American soldiers.
As per shutting down millblogs, I realize the Bush administration often uses "security issues" as an excuse to silence their critics, and I completely disagree with that. however there might be legitimate safety issues here. Blogs are informal, unsupervised environments and it seems like a naive or careless blogger could put himself and others in danger.