Monday, March 03, 2008

They Can Burn All The Books, But They Cannot Burn An Idea. Truth crushed to earth will rise again.

I was greatly disturbed by a story going around concerning the possible censorship of the alternative news; that is, the alternative news as published on internet Blogs. Blocking access to an internet Blog is equivalent to burning a book. It is censorship at its worst. In an enlightened age of rapid transmission of ideas and information, this is tantamount to attempts to extinguish the light of learning during the Dark Ages and to the Nazi book-burnings.

Who's afraid of a lone Blogger sitting at his home desk reducing his thoughts to writing? Can his ideas be so dangerous as to require a Citidel of Learning to take such Draconian Measures as to block access to his writings? I am aware that some in China think so; and many in Russia have always thought so. Even King George, whom we fought a war against to secure our Freedoms of speech and the Press, did not have such determined Mind Police.

It would appear that one man on the side of Truth is a formidable adversary. In the market place of ideas, an opinion cannot be eradicated by making it "off-limits" to a sizeable portion of the population.

"Blogging is the only true content which originates online", said Robert Lichter, president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs. He went on to say, "People will say it is convenient and immediate to get their news via the Internet".

As if to reinforce what Robert Lichter said, a Zogby Interactive poll released 27 February said that "news-hungry Americans are yielding to the siren call of cyberspace. Almost half of us say that the Internet is now our primary source of news and information, trumping television, radio, and newspapers." In the survey of 1,979 adults conducted online February 20 and 21, more than 67 percent of the adults agreed that "journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news".

The survey found that 48 percent of Americans went online for enlightenment. About 29 percent looked to television and 11 percent went to radio. With just 10 percent of the audience, newspapers were in last place. The Majority of those surveyed had praise for their online experience: 86 percent cited the Web as an "important source" of information. Over 77 percent said that so-called citizen journalism has a "vital role" in journalism's future.

With that as a backdrop, I was very dismayed when a reliable source reported that the Air Force Academy has decided to spit into the whirlwind of the public's thirst for information. Sadly, the Air Force academy does not intend to continue to fly high, wide and handsome. It has been said that the Air Force Academy has blocked all Blogs from its internal computer network systems.

On 27 Feb 2008 Noah Schachtman reported that "The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."
Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new "Cyber Command," took over.

I weep at such news. I have always had the upmost respect for the Air Force Academy and the Air Force. Can it be that a once mighty corps of intellectual giants has been replaced by a cadre of sheep?

China built a Great Wall around itself to protect itself from the Mongol hordes, and to keep its innovative discoveries from being seen and stolen by the barbarians. However, while the Chinese were behind that Great Wall the world passed them by. When they finally were brave enough to come out from behind that Great Wall, they discovered something very shocking. They discovered that while they were hiding behind the Wall, the world had passed them by. They were no longer the head, but they had become the tail. They had lost The Mandate of Heaven. They were no longer the Middle Kingdom. They had allowed themselves to become a Third World power.

R. Clark, R. Hauschault, L. Steverson, Air Force cadet, H. Legwinn.

Cadet Kenny Little and Carole.

Ever since 1966 when I spent the entire summer touring with the Air Force Academy under a Coast Guard Academy/Air Force Academy summer Exchange Program. From my first glimpse of the aluminum spires of the Chapel at the Air Force Academy, to the Zero-gravity rides on the KC-135 out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to the T-33 Trainer flight at March Air Force Base, and the Ranger Orientation at Fort Benning, Georgia, I was completely captivated by the Air Force and the cadets that were enrolled at Colorado Springs.

During that summer I truly "Slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the sky on laughter silvered wings". I flew planes; I experienced zero-G rides; I blacked-out at the pull of a 4-G force during a barrell roll in a T-33 executed by a crusty out Fighter Jock with mercury in his veins.

For the first time I began to appreciate what a classified security briefing was. We attended NORAD briefings. We were briefed on Early Warning procedures, B-52 responses, and first strike procedures. All these briefings were done inside super secure briefing rooms with big, burly, Air Police (AP) Security Guards standing guard armed with M-16s.

Air Force cadet Kenneth H. Little at USAFA.(1966)

Air Force Cadets like Cadet Kenneth H. Little were the most gung-ho and highly motivated cadets I had ever met. His esprit de corps was light years beyond anything I had experience before I was exposed to the Air Force cadets.

So far the Coast Guard Academy and Coast Guard access to the Internet has not been blocked, but rumblings inside Coast Guard Headquarters are disturbing. If the Coast Guard were to move toward prior censorship it would be a giant step backwards towards the Dark Ages, because Blogs uncover and report on what has been labeled the “ugly underbelly” of the Coast Guard.

As the Coast Guard tries to come to grips with its new and increased missions since 9/11/2001, along with its increased funding, there is much to report. From the still failing $27 billion acquisition portfolio to upgrading the Coast Guard’s aged and deteriorating fleet of ships and aircraft, to a base infrastructure that is largely made up of base hand-me-downs from the other services. The Coast Guard's $27 billion dollar acquisition portfolio is still being managed by an Admiral with ZERO professional acquisition training, qualifications or certifications.

The Webster Smith court-martial and the publicity generated by CAPT Doug Wisniewski and CWO French gave the world a rare glimpse of the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of the Coast Guard's senior white officer corps.

There was a time when "what happened at the Coast Guard Academy, stayed at the Coast Guard Academy". Those days are gone. The Genie has been let out of the bottle. It will be impossible to get the toothpaste back into the tube. People are now hungry for news of people and events within the Coast Guard. They want the Full Story, the real deal, not some diluted, bleached out, watered down version of a press release written by a warrant officer or an Ensign from the Academy or Officers' Candidate School with less than a year's experience in the service. Those people are still learning how to salute, how to pour the cold drink, and where the bath room is.

But thanks to the world of blogging, these stories are being told by people with the experience and the historical perspective to put the events and the official pronouncements in their proper perspective.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...
The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said ...
AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.
"Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.
As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites -- such as educational databases and some work-related sites -- getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.

9:47 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Air Force recently launched an $81 million marketing campaign to convince lawmakers and average citizens of its relevance in today's fights. By making it harder for troops to blog, an Air Force officer says, the service had undermined "some of their most credible advocates."

9:52 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

One of the blogs banned is "In From the Cold", which examines military, intelligence and political affairs from a largely right-of-center perspective. It's written by "Nathan Hale," the pseudonym for a former journalist and Air Force intelligence officer, who spent more than two decades in the service. He said, "If knowledge and information are power -- and no one disputes that -- then why not trust your people and empower them to explore all sides of issues affecting the service, air power and national security?"

9:54 AM  

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