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Aug-17-2008 22:04TweetFollow @OregonNews
Land of the Free Continues to Black Out Popular Websites for U.S. MilitaryPerspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
American troops are asked to fight and die for the freedom of other nations while the government strips them of their own.
(FORT BENNING, Georgia) - We reported on May 16th 2007 that the U.S. government appeared to be on the verge of relaxing its complete blackout of MySpace and YouTube on all U.S. military computers. (see: DoD Will Listen to Internet Companies at Roundtable Discussion Thursday) I can tell you over one year later that it apparently never happened.
As I spend extra days on a military base in Georgia waiting for a flight to the war in Iraq which I will cover for the next several weeks, I am reminded of the frustration this limitation brings to the tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who rely on personal networking sites like MySpace and YouTube to keep in touch with people they care about.
It seems unusual that the Department of Defense would continue this ridiculous information "blackout" at a time that we are asking so much from these brave warriors. In fact, it seems far more like something we would expect from places like Iran and China and North Korea where the same freedoms are removed from the general population. Our troops are being punished without justification.
The newer generation relies on the Internet and various popular sites to send and receive photos and videos of their children and family members and friends. Both MySpace and YouTube were created to ease the problems often encountered when trying to work through the technological maze of delivering media from one point to another.
The DoD said our military forces were using too much bandwidth in the combat theaters and that is what led to this round of big brother intervention. I call foul on that, because I spent time covering the war in Afghanistan and there was plenty of bandwidth. The excuse was never even a valid subject, but was enough to relieve our soldiers' access to this particular freedom, even while in the States.
At Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, the troops' computers are on their own satellite, the satellite is taken care of by Australians, and it is completely separate from the Internet systems used by soldiers during the work day. Other troops have Internet service that they have to buy from an Afghan vendor on the base; it has nothing to do with the base's daily operation and I have confirmed that fact with higher ups in the military who will not be named here.
I think the bandwidth issue might have been the only smart-sounding reason they could come up with, it is a hard call. At the end of the day it is just one more way that our government behaves like the countries it persecutes and attacks.
Come on MySpace and YouTube, get in there and fight for the people who fight for your country. Don't let the Bush administration "dumb them down" by restricting and in this case, eliminating their right to simple things like information.
My own video reports were going to be delivered back to the United States via YouTube and now I know that the process is going to be much longer and more difficult thanks to this embarrassing rule that punishes the wrong people for a crime that they never committed.
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