Our military spends a lot of time defending our rights and our constitution, or so they tell us. Soldiers don’t have freedom of speech because of the code of military conduct, but they used to at least have freedom of the press. There have been reports from veterans of the Iraq Occupation that they had difficult accessing certain (liberal) websites or listening to liberal radio from Iraq, but on Tuesday, the Pentagon made censorship an official and public policy, banning access to YouTube and MySpace among other websites. According to the AP,
Members of the military can still access the sites on their own computers and networks, but Defense Department computers and networks are the only ones available to many soldiers and sailors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The ban does not affect the Internet cafes that soldiers in Iraq use that are not connected to the Defense Department’s network.
If this ban stands, there will be NO VIDEO AT ALL from Iraq shown to the rest of the world because of a reporting/photography ban by the Iraqi government.
A new Iraqi government policy implemented this month bans news photographers and camera operators from filming bombing scenes, meaning video taken by citizens and uploaded to YouTube could become the only imagery the public sees of such devastation.
Today, however, the people who started YouTube are fighting back. They are challenging the military’s contention that the ban reflected a bandwidth issue (rather than censorship of news to or from the occupation zone).
How is this different from the ban on showing flag-draped coffins on TV in the U.S.?
Sometimes it is hard to remember what rights our military is fighting to protect.