[Vision2020] Troop Blogs Show Increasing Criticism of War

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu Sep 20 15:14:19 PDT 2007

>From the Army Times at:



Troop blogs show increasing criticism of war

By Robert Weller - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Sep 13, 2007 11:53:00 EDT
DENVER - With the world being bombarded by all factions on their side on the
war in Iraq, U.S. soldiers Internet blogs provided the kind of public
relations Madison Avenue would drool over.

Soldiers told of helping Iraqi families, the loss of friends and their
dangerous daily missions.

In the past year, as soldiers and Marines return for the second, third or
even fourth deployments, and the death toll approaches 4,000, some soldiers
began questioning the war.

At the very least they risk administrative punishments, called Article 15s,
though if it has happened it has been kept quiet.

"The toothpaste is out of the tube. And, try as they might, the military's
information nannies are not going to be able to stuff it back in," said Noah
Schatman of Wired Magazine in an e-mail from Taji, Iraq. He said soldiers
will pay $55 a month for a private connection.

The military is so petrified it will lose information control screensavers
were installed on military computers warning blogs could jeopardize
security, said Schatman, who runs Wired's Danger Room blog and has tracked
the unofficial use of the Internet by soldiers.

The campaign has led some soldiers to steer clear of the Internet. Others do
it anyway as confusion reigns because of conflicting signals sent from
Washington, he said.

"President Eisenhower warned of the growing military industrial complex in
his farewell address. Since Dick Cheney can now afford solid gold oil
derricks, it's safe to say we failed Ike miserably. After losing two friends
and over a dozen comrades, I have this to say: Do not wage war unless it is
absolutely, positively the last ditch effort for survival," wrote Spc. Alex
Horton, 22, of the 3rd Stryker Brigade in Army of Dude. "In the future, I
want my children to grow up with the belief that what I did here was wrong,
in a society that doesn't deem that idea unpatriotic," he blogged.

Sgt. Thomas Strickland, 27, of Douglasville, Ga., calling himself the Rev
Wayfarer, was one of the earliest to speak out publicly. Two days before he
drowned in a vehicle accident at Mahmudijah on his second tour he condemned
the leadership in "One Foot in the Grave." He asked what the chain of
command had been doing since his first tour. "We were winning somewhat when
I left. And now we are being pinned down in our own (expletive deleted)
homes. Insurgents are pushing locals out of their homes and taking over my
area at will."

Spc. Eleonai Israel of Bowling Green, Ky., court-martialed and given a less
than honorable discharge last month after refusing to go on combat missions,
said that like Horton he never heard a peep about what he said on his
MySpace site during his year in Iraq.

"The truth will come out, and there is nothing they can do to hide it. The
occupation is a disaster. I'm convinced that every day it continues that it
makes America, and the Iraqis less safe," he said on his MySpace Blog. He
now works for the presidential campaign of Democrat Mike Gravel of Alaska.

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said
a soldier would have to go pretty far before facing any retribution, and
officers would be more vulnerable. "The government never wants to make
someone a martyr," he said.

"It's the first digital war. It's exciting to watch this because it is going
to raise rich issues," said Fidell, who also teaches at Yale, American
University and practices law. Loren Thompson, CEO of the Lexington
Insatiate, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, agreed.

"It's the subversive nature of the Internet. Technology has caught up with
the soldiers, who have always known what was really going on but didn't have
the tools to tell their story," said Thompson.

The Army has said winning the information war is necessary to win the ground
war. Insurgents agree. Tributes to Saddam Hussein are uploaded to YouTube,
along with alleged film showing attacks on convoys. Some caught in the
middle post their travails. The Army also uploads videos. In many cases it
is impossible to verify or even identify who the source is, and it must be
taken with a grain of digital salt.

In April, the Army announced new rules on blogging that required soldiers to
clear them with a superior. Access to MySpace and some other popular Web
sites was blocked. The Army said it was not trying to stop soldiers from
speaking their mind, however. And so far, some of them have been.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho


"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism"

- Thomas Jefferson


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