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The 2007 MilBlog Conference - Flash Report

The 2007 Military Blog Conference was a huge success.  Thanks, Andi and Military.com for putting it together!

With coverage of conference by Fox, CNN, Anna-Marie Cox of Time, Soldiers Magazine, the Army and DoD Public Affairs, hopefully our messages will get some attention.

From what I know at this point (early AM on Sunday), CNN will air a segment this afternoon sometime between 4-6pm EST and Fox & Friends might have two segments tomorrow at 6am EST and 8am EST.

Please visit the bloggers who live-blogged the conference for more info on what was said.

Of course, the new Army OPSEC regulation was the talk in the hallways.

We received thank you's from President Bush (via recorded broadcast - Jim Hoft was quick enough to capture a video of it - check Gateway Pundit - and hopefully we'll get it on YouTube...) and General David H. Petraeus (via email that I read to the audience).

...I wanted to offer my thanks to you for what you've done and also to thank, via you, the bloggers who have worked to provide accurate descriptions of the situation on the ground here in Iraq and elsewhere. Milbloggers have become increasingly important, of course, given the enormous growth in individuals who get their news online in the virtual world instead of through newspapers and television. So please extend my appreciation to them for performing this task -- and, of course, for doing it in ways that does not violate legitimate operational security guidelines. Best from Baghdad -- General Dave Petraeus

And Senators Coleman, Coburn, and DeMint signed a letter supporting military bloggers which I believe had a huge impact on the Army revising it's interpretation of the OPSEC regulation (whether that will work or not is still the subject of debate).

Military_blog_letter_to_secretary_g

And, of all things, I received one letter of support from Senator Kennedy...after the Jump (keep an exorcist handy).

More about the conference to follow...

Update:  If you have just one minute, you must watch this video.  This is, perhaps, the biggest reason we exist as a community...for each other.

Via MHK at Townhall

Update 2:  The WashPo has an article about the conference.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  CONTACT: Laura Capps/Melissa Wagoner
May 4, 2007                                                                                                        (202) 224-2633


KENNEDY URGES ARMY TO RECONSIDER BAN ON MILITARY BLOGS


WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy sent the following letter to the Acting Secretary of the Army Peter Geren urging him to reconsider the recent ban on military blogs on the Internet.  The US Army has recently revised their policy on soldiers' use of the Internet and their freedom to post on military web blogs.

Below is the text of the letter that the Senator has sent to Secretary Geren in response to this policy.  A PDF version is available upon request.




May 4, 2007

The Honorable Peter Geren
Acting Secretary of the Army
1001 Army Pentagon
Room 3E560
Washington DC 20310-0100

Dear Acting Secretary Geren:

It has come to my attention that the Army has recently revised its policy on soldiers' use of the Internet, particularly their ability to post to military web logs, commonly known as blogs.  This policy, Army Regulation 530-1, requires soldiers to clear the proposed content of their messages with a superior officer.   

This policy is a serious mistake that will have a chilling effect on opportunities for the public to connect personally with these brave fighting men and women.  Today's Army is comprised of educated and articulate volunteers, and these dedicated men and women have earned our trust.  With proper training and education, the Army should have faith that our troops are capable of discussing topics relevant to them without disclosing classified or other sensitive information.   

I was pleased to see that the author of the new policy, Major Ray Ceralde, believes there is some leeway in the policy, and that unit commanders can simply have soldiers register their blogs and then review the content for adherence to the policy.   

However, the plain language of the policy does not support such leeway: it is unlikely that commanders, faced with harsh penalties such as court-martial called for by the policy, will apply such a loose reading of the policy.

As it stands, this policy will overburden immediate supervisors and OPSEC officers by requiring them to screen mundane communications.  It will also prohibit soldiers from using internet chat-rooms unless the soldiers' immediate supervisor and OPSEC officer approve each message.  In today's high tech world, such a policy doesn't make sense.

Soldiers, their families, and the public who read blogs and use other public forums will lose valuable insights into the lives of our soldiers if the policy continues to be enforced.  This loss is particularly troubling, since it comes at a time when there is a deep need for Americans to connect with their soldiers.

I fully understand that sensitive information must be safeguarded, and that our nations' adversaries may monitor and use relevant information to their own advantage. However, I believe we can meet that challenge by educating our troops rather than silencing them.  I urge you to consider a common-sense policy that trains our troops so that they can continue to communicate with their families and the public at large. I also ask you to provide a more thorough justification for the policy.  What was the impetus for instituting it?  Have any soldiers been charged with knowingly disseminating sensitive information though media outlets such as blogs and internet chat-rooms?  What efforts has the Army made to address this issue without requiring prior approval of content? What guidelines will be used by officers who review such content?

The Army should address this issue in a way that conveys faith and confidence in our troops.  The current policy indicates a troubling lack of trust and a serious failure to educate and instruct the troops.  I urge the Army to re-evaluate this decision.  At a minimum, the Army should redraft the policy to reflect the interpretation offered by Major Ceralde.  I look forward to hearing your response.


                                                           Sincerely,



Edward M. Kennedy

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