Concerns of a Clampdown on Milblogs: Overblown? (UPDATE: Probably Not)
This Washington Post article suggests that the military is not conducting a draconian crackdown on milblogs, notwithstanding some previous fretting to the contrary. According to military sources, oldiers are not required to clear each post with a superior, as some had reported. Rather, they must register new blogs and inform superiors, so they can be counseled not to disclose classified or sensitive information:
Army Maj. Ray M. Ceralde, who worked on the new regulations, said Wednesday the intention of the 2007 rule is not to have soldiers clear every public posting with commanders.
“Not only is that impractical, but we are trusting the soldiers to protect critical information,” he said.
He said there is no effort to block soldiers from setting up or posting comments to blogs. “We’re not looking for them to seek approval each time a blog entry is posted,” Ceralde said.
The rules, he said, do not affect personal, private e-mails that soldiers send. “Soldiers have a right to private communications with their families,” he said.
Instead, Ceralde said, soldiers are expected to consult or clear with commanders when they start a blog, in part so they can be warned about information they cannot publish.
If true, this does not seem like an undue restriction, given the importance of protecting such information.
UPDATE: Note: as I say, the concerns are overblown if the military’s clarification of its purpose is true. Glenn Reynolds suspects it’s not, and that the military may simply be covering its posterior with the comments in the Post. The more I read, the more I think Glenn may be right. First, commenter Rick Wilcox cites language in comments that seems inconsistent with the intent stated by Maj. Ceralde:
g. Consult with their immediate supervisor and their OPSEC Officer for an OPSEC review prior to publishing or posting information in a public forum.
(1) This includes, but is not limited to letters, resumes, articles for publication, electronic mail (e-mail), Web site postings, web log (blog) postings, discussion in Internet information forums, discussion in Internet message boards or other forms of dissemination or documentation.
But what about enforcement? Well, Maj. Ceralde is not as clear in a Wired article about blogs being free of the need to consult before posting:
Despite the absolutist language, the guidelines’ author, Major Ray Ceralde, said there is some leeway in enforcement of the rules. “It is not practical to check all communication, especially private communication,” he noted in an e-mail. “Some units may require that soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting.”
I see. So you’re not looking to make them do that — but any commander who doesn’t want to get in trouble for making rules too lax may require that.
OK, maybe the concerns weren’t overblown after all.
UPDATE x2: I think the only way to know for sure is to see how this plays out with our favorite milblogs. I’ll keep an eye on the situation.
UPDATE: Army Lawyer is not too pessimistic.