Monday, May 7, 2007

Secrecy News

Secrecy News: "'I have considered your request that we remove Army publications from the Federation of American Scientists web site,' I responded today. 'I have decided not to comply.'"

I love those little poindexters over at the FAS. The Army publishes a For Official Use Only (i.e. limited distribution) document restricting blogging and e-mails and the FAS posts it on the web. Hopefully, I'm not the only one who sees the irony in that.

The regulation is a re-write of Army Regulation 530-1 Operations Security and it severely restricts electronic communication in any form. Both blogging (any) and e-mail (any) require supervisory review.

I know, it sounds impossible to me too. But there's a bigger issue which is the abuses during the Vietnam era. During Vietnam the US Government in general and the US Army in particular undertook a campaign to deceive the American people about the progress of the war. The press smelled a rat and went around the press officers. William Hammond in an official Army history concluded that the press reports were "still often more accurate" than the official releases. (quoted in Karnow, History of Vietnam) The Army does not deserve to be trusted with controlling the flow of information.

The Army is facing a technologically sophisticated enemy and blogs in particular are a goldmine of information. Go here, pick out a few blogs from deployed servicemen and read them from the viewpoint of a hostile intelligence officer. The Army has a point.

Still, their implementation was heavy-handed and wrong. The answer is education. A warrior's primary loyalty is to his or her unit. Not to the country or to any other abstract concept like freedom and democracy. Teach the service members how maintain communications without endangering their unit. They'll do it.

Here's the scary snippet form AR 530-1:

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.
(2) Supervisors will advise personnel to ensure that sensitive and critical information is not to be disclosed. Each unit or organization’s OPSEC Officer will advise supervisors on means to prevent the disclosure of sensitive and critical information.

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