American generals in Iraq have handed down their rules for military bloggers. They seem surprisingly fair.It wasn't that long ago that Spc. Colby Buzell was banned from patrols and confined to base for what he wrote on his blog. Today, that might not happen."Personal web sites and web logs produced in a personal capacity and not in connection with official duties need not be cleared in advance," the new rules read. "However, it is the responsbility of MNC-I [Multi-National Corps Iraq] personnel to ensure that any personal web sites and web logs do not contain prohibited information" -- classified and for-official-use-only material, basically.Commanders are supposed to review the blogs on a quarterly basis. "Risk of release of the information must be weighed against the benefits of publishing," the chiefs warn. What's more, "servicemembers in violation of this policy may be subject to adverse administrative action and punishment under the UCMJ [Universal Code of Military Justice]."Phil Carter, who passed on the rules to me (and others) thinks "this policy strikes a pretty good balance, especially to the extent that it refrains from 'prior restraint' [pre-publication review]. However, a lot continues to depend on the willingness of commanders to allow these blogs, and the extent to which they exercise their lawful authority to quash them."(Big ups: Argghhh!)THERE'S MORE: Milblogger CDR Salamander ain't too happy, however.
Having your Chain of Command have complete knowledge and access to your webpage/blog and/or postings on other internet based publishing media will put a damper on primary source reporting, opinion, and information flow we are used to in the quick, honest, unvarnished manner we have become accustomed...Let me tell you what this means to me: If/when I go to the MNC-I AOR [Area of Responsibility], CDR Salamander will go cold iron. That is the only way I can keep CDR Salamander anon and brash as it is and not violate a lawful order. No other option.On a macro scale, simple Freakonomics will tell you that this burden will result in fewer blogs and diluted content.