Freedom Fighters Not So Free

It’s an irony that may be as old as wars and the people who fight them: While supposedly battling for freedom, they’re not as free as the rest of us- to speak out, or to disclose what they’re doing.

The latest limitation for U.S. forces: The Pentagon’s move to ban MySpace and YouTube from military computers. The stated reason- they eat too much bandwidth. But few are swallowing that explanation.

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The decision to block YouTube and MySpace sparked controversy earlier this week — especially coming after a new set of Army regulations on operations security, or OPSEC, which put severe restrictions on soldiers’ blogging and e-mail. Top generals have called the now-banned sites a “significant operational security challenge”; there’s no telling, after all, what sensitive information troops might disclose in those videos or MySpace blog posts. But the Admiral claims that “OPSEC played absolutely no part in the decision” to restrict access to the sites.

Troops will still be able to engage in their “recreational hobbies” by going to YouTube and MySpace, she says. They just can’t do it on official Defense Department computers.

Wired “Danger Room”

Some members of Congress have said they don’t believe the ban is not motivated by security concerns, but it seems unlikely the Pentagon will reverse the decision to ban the popular sites. If every member of the military were free to say how they really feel about the war in Iraq as it stands today, it could be an embarrassment to their leaders. Then, there’s the possibility of another Abu Ghraib-like scandal- documented this time with YouTube video, as well as still pictures.

That disturbing chapter in the war continues to resonate, with Time Magazine reporting just today that the shell-shocked mental state of the prison’s commanding officer may have set the stage for some of what went terribly wrong there. Click on the link to read why he was apparently paralyzed by his personal horror of war, and to see more evidence that- when it comes to any war- there’s so much the military doesn’t want you to know.

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