Information Warfare: U.S. Army Cracks Down on Blogs and Email

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May 4, 2007: On April 19th, the U.S. Army pissed off its most articulate troops, and many overworked junior officers, by issuing new regulations that require troops to get an officers permission before they write anything that might violate OPSEC (Operations Security) in a blog, email, BBS posting, and so on. This means thousands of junior officers have yet another job, that of censoring subordinates Internet activity. Troops who post information without first getting it cleared by their OPSEC officer, can be punished. Exactly how much, is unclear, but apparently it could be as bad as a court-martial, depending on whose feathers you ruffle.

The reality is that troops will continue doing what they have long been doing, posting under an alias, and not identifying themselves. They will just do it more frequently. Back in the 1990s, when word got around that the army was filtering all email sent by .mil accounts, troops began to get civilian email accounts, just to be on the safe side. That trend will continue, and much of the same information will get out there, but very little of it from someone who openly admits they are in the army.

The bad guys will have the same access to what the troops are saying on the Internet. The army will be able to hunt down and identify some troops posting stuff via civilian email accounts. Attempts to punish these troops will cause a major "free speech" furor. Everyone, except the journalists and advertising sales people, will be unhappy. Questions will be raised about who came up with this idea, and the answers will prove interesting. Maybe even interesting. There might even be tears.

And that's exactly what happened. After about a week, the army rushed out some clarifications. Troops don't have to get every message cleared, but they must "consult" with their commanders about their online activity. This seems to imply some kind of telepathy, but the army made reference to establishing "trust." There still might be tears.

What there will be in a greater implied threat of retribution if troops say something the brass don't like. Note that, when you are in the military, you don't have the same constitutional rights as civilians.

 


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