Friday, June 28, 2013


This is getting a lot of attention, some of it a bit overheated:
The Army admitted Thursday to ... restricting access to The Guardian news website ... Armywide.

Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since The Guardian broke stories on data collection by the National Security Agency.

Gordon Van Vleet, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering "some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks."

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative "network hygiene" measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information....
A couple of responses:

I don't approve of this, but Wa little perspective, please: When they start blocking civilian access to Web sites in America, then we have a Chinese-style Internet policy. People in the military always lose some freedoms the rest of us have -- that's the nature of the military -- and rightly or wrongly, restrictions on media access have often been part of the deal.

In 2010, the Air Force blocked access to sites publishing information from Wikileaks. That's an obvious parallel to what's going on now. But military censorship of the Web has even extended to a military-wide blockage of Olympics sites in 2008. (It's not clear why, but it's possible that it was because the feeds were coming from China and the military feared hacking.)

And, of course, the military blocked access to YouTube,, and similar sites for many years, and blocked sites self-identified as blogs. The military stopped blocking social media sites as of 2010, but continued to "deny access to prohibited content sites (e.g., gambling, pornography, hate-crime related activities)," according to the Department of Defense. Earlier this year, right-wingers freaked out when reports surfaced that the Southern Baptist Convention's site was being blocked, although the DoD said that that was in response to a temporary malware problem on the SBC site, not in response to content on the site.

But content-based censorship in the miltary has a history that predates the Internet, as Jeff Sharlet notes:

Well, I get the feeling that Vietnam GI was, um, rather provocative:

Sharlet's uncle was also named Jeff Sharlet. Read about his career (which ranged from the U.S. Army Security Agency to SDS) and about Vietnam GI at Wikipedia.

My point in bringing all this up is that it may be wrong, but we haven't entered into a new, unprecedented era of fascism. It's nothing new.


Philo Vaihinger said...

And then again it's not wrong, anyway.

Erika Frensley said...

Aren't these the same people that say that business can monitor and block websites on their computers used for work? That's all the military is doing. For awhile Facebook was blocked from all military computers in Afghanistan because of the location feature. Apparently soldiers' movements were being tracked thru Facebook (in some cases, very successfully). And then there's the malware/viruses/trojan problems which would cause major chaos on a military network. Sigh. The stupid, it burns.

Kathy said...

I bet you real money that right-wing talkers are still telling their followers that the malware explanation for blocking the SBC was a lie that godless Kenyan socialist made up when he got caught trying to throw religion out of the public square.

Victor said...

Conservatives, look on the plus side - our military personnel can still listen to your Reich Wing radio propagandists on Armed Forces Radio.
You know - the stations you so successfully kept Air America off, for years.

And if not, they're allowed to access them via the internet.