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May-14-2007 10:36TweetFollow @OregonNews
Op-Ed: Government Bans Soldiers From Internet SitesOp-Ed by: Tim King, Salem-News.com
Soldiers have few if any options for passing the long hours. Staying in touch with family and friends on Myspace was one of them.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Military forces in the war theatre are already banned from alcohol and sex. Porn sites and other less than wholesome locations are screened by the Department of Defense, soldiers readily accept that, but the latest move by the military to remove a soldier's access to Myspace, YOUTUBE, and other sites strikes many as an unnecessary discipline that will only lead to a plunge in morale.
A spokesperson for the DoD says the department's computer systems are being used more often for personal surfing, decreasing Internet availability and presenting security risks. Who is in charge?
I learned earlier this year while covering the war in Afghanistan, that the U.S. government maintains secured and unsecured Internet lines, though they claim that, "This recreational traffic impacts our official network and bandwidth availability, while posing a significant operational security challenge."
"The Department of Defense has a growing concern regarding our unclassified Internet," a department release explained.
There are computer lines in the war that are only operated by people with the highest security clearances. I know this because I asked for permission to use them and was promptly denied. The military is not seeing that type of security threat, if soldiers watched MTV on the secured lines they would quickly be busted.
I have a growing suspicion that the sites being banned are on the hit list because they sport an anti-government position, maybe anti-war? anti-Bush?
The department says it decided to implement the ban after noticing its resources were being tied up by employees listening to music or watching videos. I can tell you for a fact that very few marines, soldiers, sailors or airmen are cruising videos or listening to Internet music when they are on the the clock.
They would be in trouble with their commands if they did that.
The DoD's statement about recreational traffic posing a significant operational security challenge implies that our forces are doing things that compromise national security. That makes little sense since their lives are in the line of danger, in the war zone. I suspect that they have little interest in increasing the hazards in their daily lives.
The government said that sending personal videos, photos and data files can compromise sensitive unclassified information and increase risk of identity theft. I almost laughed aloud at that one, I assume most people recall that the only significant identity theft in the DoD system was committed by one of their own employees under extremely questionable circumstances.
It went something like this: employee takes files of every American serviceman and veteran home, a bad guy "breaks in" and steals the records, the government knows nothing about it, and suddenly the identity of everyone has been compromised.
Besides, how does using YOUTUBE result in ID theft?
But nearly all of the soldiers using sites like Myspace are only staying in touch with people that they know and love and miss, people like their wives, husbands and kids.
The restriction affects nearly 5 million employees from accessing the sites on the department's computers.
I can personally attest to the usefulness of YOUTUBE and Myspace because I have posted many videos from the war there, and they are videos that offer a positive reflection of our involvement in Afghanistan.
Because of this latest move, all of the war coverage on Salem-News.com can not be accessed on DoD computers since we work with YOUTUBE on the video side. I admit that this is personal, but I went to the war so that I could show the better side of our people in uniform, and they media is constantly slammed for not showing their accomplishments. I know that the armed forces long ago focused on Rush Limbaugh and other ultra conservative voices for their extremely biased radio broadcasts. This is a purely political move by the DoD.
It seems their primary goal is to keep people programmed. We learned a few days ago from the Department of Defense, that "only 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect. More than one-third of all soldiers and Marines reported that torture should be allowed to save the life of a fellow soldier or Marine, and less than half of soldiers or Marines said they would report a team member for unethical behavior."
This is the new America, and the nation is not on a good course. Each day the DoD and the Pentagon try to find more ways to spin the story, soaking up MY tax dollars hiring more spinsters to do their dirty work. More access to information is removed, and they have the nerve to say they do it in the name of freedom.
The new restriction will prevent government employees from using 13 sites altogether. Some of the others include mtv.com, photobucket.com, and stupidvideos.com.
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