I'm also supposed to get a call this morning from a reporter for the BBC's "Radio 5 Live". My mother would've been proud. (Just heard from the BBC radio reporter. Sounds like it's tonight at around 6:30 pm. Did I mention it was live? Bloody 'ell.)
Hey? Where was all this media attention on Friday, when I reported on the death of yet another blogging U.S. soldier who was against the war in Iraq? Don't you guys want to support the troops for a change?! What do I have to do? Create DeadUSsoldiersAgainstWar.com or something? (After all, the only soldier free to speak his mind is a dead soldier.)
And speaking about actual living soldiers not being free to speak their mind... I just wanted to take this opportunity to leak a recent Army memorandum which makes it clear that soldiers with digital cameras and weblogs are the enemy.
P 231903Z AUG 05
FM DA WASHINGTON DC//DACS-ZA//
ZEN/ADDRESS LISTS @ AL ALARACT(UC)
UNCLAS ALARACT 156/2005
SUBJECT: CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY OPSEC GUIDANCE
PASS TO ALL ARMY LEADERS.
REF//A//MSG/ALARACT/141637Z FEB 05/SUBJ: SENSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHS
1. (U//FOUO) OPSEC IS A CHAIN OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY. IT IS SERIOUS BUSINESS AND WE MUST DO A BETTER JOB ACROSS THE ARMY. THE ENEMY AGGRESSIVELY "READS" OUR OPEN SOURCE AND CONTINUES TO EXPLOIT SUCH INFORMATION FOR USE AGAINST OUR FORCES. SOME SOLDIERS CONTINUE TO POST SENSITIVE INFORMATION TO INTERNET WEBSITES AND BLOGS, E.G., PHOTOS DEPICTING WEAPON SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES AND TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, AND PROCEDURES. SUCH OPSEC VIOLATIONS NEEDLESSLY PLACE LIVES AT RISK AND DEGRADE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF OUR OPERATIONS.
2. (U//FOUO) THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS ISSUE HAS SURFACED.
THE VICE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY PREVIOUSLY ADDRESSED THIS VIA MESSAGE IN FEBRUARY 2005. TAKE A HARD LOOK AT HIS GUIDANCE.
3. (U//FOUO) LEADERS AT ALL LEVELS MUST TAKE CHARGE OF THIS ISSUE AND GET THE MESSAGE DOWN TO THE LOWEST LEVELS. TO ASSIST YOU, THE HQDA
G-2 AND THE OPSEC SUPPORT ELEMENT ARE DEVELOPING A TRAINING MODULE AND ARE FORMING A MOBILE TRAINING TEAM TO ASSIST IN TRAINING YOUR SOLDIERS. DETAILS WILL BE PROVIDED NLT 2 SEPTEMBER 2005. HQDA G-6 (IN COORDINATION WITH G-2) IS DIRECTED TO TRACK AND REPORT, ON A QUARTERLY BASIS, OPEN SOURCE OPSEC VIOLATIONS. AN INTERIM CHANGE TO AR 530-1, OPERATIONS SECURITY, WILL BE PUBLISHED VIA MESSAGE WITHIN 30 DAYS WHICH WILL CONTAIN CLEAR POLICY CONCERNING THE POSTING OF SENSITIVE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET.
4. (U//FOUO) GET THE WORD OUT AND FOCUS ON THIS ISSUE NOW. I EXPECT TO SEE IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT.
5. (U//FOUO) EXPIRATION DATE OF THIS ALARACT IS UNDETERMINED.
PETER J. SCHOOMAKER, GEN, CSA
DTG: 141637Z Feb 05
SUBJECT: (U) SENSITIVE PHOTOS (U//FOUO)
PASS TO ALL ARMY LEADERS O5 (LTC) OR EQUIVALENT AND ABOVE.
1. (U//FOUO) THE ENEMY IS ACTIVELY SEARCHING THE UNCLASSIFIED NETWORKS
FOR INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY SENSITIVE PHOTOS, IN ORDER TO OBTAIN
TARGETING DATA, WEAPONS SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES, AND TTPs FOR USE
AGAINST THE COALITION. A MORE AGGRESSIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD PROTECTING
FRIENDLY INFORMATION IS VITAL TO MISSION SUCCESS. THE ENEMY IS A PRO
AT EXPLOITING OUR OPSEC VULNERABILITIES.
2. (U//FOUO) IT IS CRITICAL TO REMIND OUR PEOPLE THAT THE NEGLIGENT OR
UNAUTHORIZED RELEASE OF SENSITIVE PHOTOS IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO OUR
FORCES. LEADERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO:
2.A. (U//FOUO) REMIND ALL PERSONNEL THAT THE ENEMY WILL EXPLOIT
SENSITIVE PHOTOS SHOWING THE RESULTS OF IED STRIKES, BATTLE SCENES,
CASUALTIES, DESTROYED OR DAMAGED EQUIPMENT, AND ENEMY KIAs AS
PROPAGANDA AND TERRORIST TRAINING TOOLS. FOR EXAMPLE, ANNOTATED
PHOTOS OF AN ABRAMS TANK PENETRATED BY AN RPG ARE EASILY FOUND ON THE
INTERNET. CAPTURED INSURGENT PAMPHLETS CONTAIN HAND DRAWINGS AND
INSTRUCTIONS ON WHAT INSURGENTS BELIEVE ARE VULNERABLE PENETRATION
POINTS ON TANKS, HMMWVS, BRADLEY FIGHTING VEHICLES, AND HELICOPTERS.
RELEASING PHOTOS OUTSIDE OFFICIAL, PROTECTED CHANNELS MAY ALLOW THE
ENEMY MATERIAL FOR HIS INFORMATION OPERATIONS AND TARGETING TTP
AGAINST FRIENDLY FORCES. INSURGENTS ALSO USE WEBSITES TO COMMUNICATE,
TRAIN, AND RECRUIT FOLLOWERS, OFTEN USING PHOTOS/VIDEO OF THEIR
BATTLEFIELD SUCCESSES. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HAVE OUR PHOTOS BECOME
TRAINING AND RECRUITMENT TOOLS FOR THE ENEMY.
2.B. (U//FOUO) INFORM YOUR PERSONNEL THAT WE COULD UNWITTINGLY
MAGNIFY ENEMY CAPABILITIES SIMPLY BY EXCHANGING PHOTOS WITH FRIENDS,
RELATIVES, OR BY PUBLISHING THEM ON THE INTERNET OR OTHER MEDIA. WE
ARE NOT LIMITING AUTHORIZED COMMUNICATION (TO INCLUDE THE APPROPRIATE
USE OF PHOTOS) UNDER EXISTING PUBLIC AFFAIRS GUIDANCE, BUT WE MUST
PROTECT PHOTOS THAT REVEAL TO THE ENEMY OUR BATTLE LOSSES, ONGOING
FRIENDLY OPERATIONS, TTP, EQUIPMENT VULNERABILITIES, OR DISCLOSE
INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION EFFORTS AND METHODS. MOREOVER, WE MUST
PROTECT INFORMATION THAT MAY HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON FOREIGN
RELATIONS WITH COALITION ALLIES OR WORLD OPINION.
3. (U//FOUO) OUR MISSION SUCCESS AND SOLDIERS LIVES DEPEND ON
AGGRESSIVELY DENYING THE ENEMY ANY ADVANTAGE. I NEED YOUR FOCUS ON
THIS CRITICAL ISSUE.
4. (U//FOUO) EXPIRATION DATE OF THIS ALARACT CANNOT BE
RICHARD A. CODY, GEN, VCSA
After all, what better way to prevent another Abu Ghraib incident from taking place -- or embarrassing evidence of U.S. soldiers planting weapons on unarmed Iraqi teens -- than to make such photographs a matter of national security?!
I guess really that this whole rant is aimed at those reporters who stumble upon this, while reporting on the hurricane. Why aren't you doing more serious reporting yourselves? Yes, I know there are big, sometimes insurmountable barriers to getting stories published, but last time I heard, independent media sources and weblogs were usable by most anyone.
You *owe* it to us to provide us more than just a popular consensus version of the truth. Maybe you should. If you need any help getting started, let me know.