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May-15-2007 15:59printcomments

YouTube Wants to Meet With U.S. Military Over Web Ban

Feedback from soldiers indicates that they are anything but happy about losing access to the sites, and the list may be longer than the government is admitting.

Tim King and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski in Afghanistan
Tim King and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski in Afghanistan, where Tim reported 30 stories in two months last winter, that were posted on YouTube so people around the world could see them
Photo by: Janet Arencibia

(SALEM, Ore.) - It looks like at least one video service that is being banned from U.S. government computers is going to fight back. MarketWatch in San Francisco says YouTube wants to hold a meeting with the U.S. military over a Web ban that would keep soldiers from not just YouTube, but also MySpace, PhotoBucket and several others.

An article on yesterday, Op-Ed: Government Bans Soldiers From Internet Sites, that was also posted on MySpace, brought a number of interesting comments from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What they say is that the government has already removed access to MySpace at a number of bases. The DoD said that computers in base MWR, Morale, Wellness and Recreation rooms would not be affected by the ban, but soldiers and marines who wrote to say the claim is bogus.

One soldier that I knew in Afghanistan, John Parsons, wrote this, "We lost myspace and several sites including any IM on the MWR computers a while ago. The only access we have to these is on a network that is operated and paid for by us through a local company".

At least that seems to be one option for the soldiers at war that the government hasn't removed yet.

Many people also wrote to, expressing support for the government banning such sites, claiming that the soldiers are spending too much time watching videos and listening to music. One person who described himself as an active duty soldier with the nickname "Blackwolf" says, "The DOD is banning the sites because there are TOO many soldiers doing this during work - I know -I'm one of them - and so are all of my buds!"

The Defense Department says it is an issue of bandwidth and security.

But Jack Idema, a Special Forces soldier, says it isn't even the Department of Defense that is pressing this issue; it comes from an even higher source, "All of which emanate from State Department's actual control of how this war is waged. The last thing they want is a SGT in the 82nd Airborne putting up videos of what really happened and contradicting Rene Boucher on the 6 O'Clock News. And that's just the tip of the iceberg."

It seems the real issue may not be bandwidth and security. If it was a legitimate claim, why would that just be coming up now?

MarketWatch reports that YOUTUBE is chafing at being one of 13 Web sites now off limits on the computer networks used by U.S. military personnel.

A representative of YouTube, the world's most popular Internet video site, owned by Google, says they are looking forward to meeting with the Department of Defense on this issue.

She says a "vast" majority of YouTube videos posted by soldiers or their families and friends are personal messages., a social networking site popular among African-Americans, is also being banned by the government, "but shouldn't be," according to Ben Sun, chief executive officer of Community Connect, the company operating the Internet site.

Sun said his site does get a "significant" amount of traffic from the DOD's network of computers, but certainly not to the degree of YouTube, or the 11 other sites on the hit list.

The majority of soldiers were not in support of the government ban, they see it as an attempt to reduce the flow of information they receive. One soldier who did not seek to be identified, says the government has even clamped down on a popular site that soldiers use to purchase equipment that helps them stay alive in the war, "you can't go onto eBay anymore at some sites across Afghanistan."

The soldier also said, "They want you to fight a war or do a job and you have to spend your own money to buy the equipment you need from eBay of all things to ensure that the job gets done." For him, that availability has ended, and Ebay is no longer an option for this soldier at war, or many others.

"They do not want us to have access to the media. I get better news about the region when I look up stories on yahoo or a generalized search for news on Afghanistan then being here. They treat you like a mushroom- feed you a lot of sh*t and keep you in the dark."

Ebay? Uncle Sam might just need to offer an explanation about that one.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Chris May 28, 2007 7:25 pm (Pacific time)

Idema, a special forces soldier? Don't you think it's a little dishonest not to note that he is a FORMER special forces soldier who's actually now in prison in Afghanistan?

Albert Marnell May 16, 2007 6:26 pm (Pacific time)

Mary, You would find the documentary "Why We Fight" to be very enlightening. I saw it at Blockbuster but got it at my library for free. It is the most recent version maybe a few years old. Also check out Google Videos about 9/11 and another good documentary is the work of Alex Jones called "Terrorstorm". This documentaries are not permitted on main stream media because of government censorship. They do not dare tell the people the truth.

mary May 16, 2007 2:47 pm (Pacific time)

Yes, I am learning more about our country and how it is "run" every day. I can't say that I like it one single bit. Change comes from within and I so hope that more people will realize the plight we are living amongst here and can have the power to change it, one person at a time until we are speaking in unison and no longer under the thumb of the military, industrial, congressional, complex.

Albert Marnell May 16, 2007 11:16 am (Pacific time)

Mary- Your opinions, experiences, ideas, beliefs, feelings, values etc. are very needed and valuable. I hope you learn to be less shy; I know it is not always easy. Thank you for speaking up in support for what I have known for decades.

mary May 16, 2007 10:36 am (Pacific time)

Albert, I was too shy to say it. Thank you. It is a pity that the US keeps invading other countries. We need greed control, not invasion without invitation.

Albert Marnell May 16, 2007 9:46 am (Pacific time)

Mary- with all respect and sympathy. These men never gave their lives for the U.S. I did not know that Vietnam attacked us? We are overseas for the profit of the military, industrial, congressional, complex. I will say this forever because it is the truth.

mary, lost fiance' in Viet Nam War. May 16, 2007 8:37 am (Pacific time)

Let these men give their lives (THEIR LIVES! HELLO!) for the US but take away the only contact most of them have with family and friends - absurd and cruel - that's taking away their freedom of speech. Jeepers, isn't there something somewhere in the US Constitution about Freedom of Speech? I would have loved to keep in touch with my fiance" during the Viet Nam War through videos and e mail. Please re-instate this right for the sake of morale. Or enlist, get on a plane to a foreign country, pick up a rifle, and dig in. Doesn't that sound like fun? And then use snail mail to contact loved ones and friends. Put the shoe on the other foot, in other words.

Tim King May 15, 2007 8:25 pm (Pacific time)

I don't know Marine, what was going on in life 40-60 years ago? Everything was not what it is today. What would those WWII vets think of having their personal body fluids "inspected" to determine of their career would continue? Probably not very much. Still, I fail to see what bearing their opinion would have in today's world. I don't think I am too unique in thinking that MySpace is a valuable thing for young people. People need to accept technology and what it represents.

For people reading this, all MWR computers are already on a timer and when there is a line of people trying to get on, everyone's time gets cut short so the next person can open email.

Also, there is never a time that 200k people are trying to get on at the same time in any given place. I wish that was the case. Again, people state misinformation constantly when they try to explain why it would be OK to not just take away myspace, but Ebay too, give me a break.

I find it interesting that the people rooting for government policy never use their real names when posting something here. The ones willing to speak up about it are more forthright in that respect.

Tim King~ reporter and former U.S. Marine

Marine May 15, 2007 8:12 pm (Pacific time)

Read the military clause for using DoD computers. Assisting in uplifting troop morale (which is an authorized use of DoD computers) doesn't require having access to the Internet Video websites. Get on the computer, send/recieve emails and then get back to work so that one of the other 200K members can have time to get on. What would the WWII, Korea and Vietnam Vets think about this?

Matt Johnson May 15, 2007 7:55 pm (Pacific time)

Oh, that is just swell, taking away access to Ebay, how red white and blue of them.

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