Marines Say “No” To Battleland…

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Marine readers of Battleland have let us know that as of last week the corps is denying them access to this site from their work computers:

I enjoy your blog and read it at work on my NMCI (Navy Marine Corps Intranet) computer. Then a couple of days after your article “What’s wrong with The Marines?“, the below message came up when attempting to access your site:

“You have attempted to access a site which has been blocked in accordance with Marine Corps and DoN [Department of the Navy] policy governing the appropriate use of government information systems…”

This is troubling on several grounds, so we asked Lieut. Colonel Stew Upton, a straight-shooting Marine public affairs officer, what’s up. “I noticed it was blocked in the last week or so in conjunction with other `blog sites, i.e. CNN’s blog,” he responded.

He said any Marine can request a waiver to read Battleland (the technical term for that, in First Amendment circles, is “chilling effect”), as he has done. “Our network security folks don’t always explain the rational or reason for websites that become blocked from time to time,” he added. “As you know, for most Marines, their mission while on government computers is not to read or post to blogs.”

True enough, but Colonel Upton’s response raises a more pertinent question: why are some blogs (at least Battleland and apparently CNN’s Security Clearance) blocked, while others – the Marine Corps Gazette blog and Tom Ricks’ Best Defense among them – still OK for troops to access from work? More importantly, a Marine asks, why are he and his comrades allowed to access Facebook, YouTube “and countless other timewasters on NMCI computers,” but not Battleland?

Fair question. The Marine adds:

Marines are encouraged to understand the world we serve in, and it comes across as clumsy and heavy-handed censorship when a site is blocked just a few days after an article like “What’s Wrong with the Marines?” is posted.

Late Sunday, Marine Captain Kevin Schultz said: “Never mind.”

“I’ve talked to my contact at HQMC C4 and he looked into why Battlelands [sic] became unaccessible. From everything he found, Battlelands hasn’t been blocked and should be accessible. I don’t know if this was a system glitch or something else…Battlelands shouldn’t be blocked and I’ll check first thing Tuesday when we go back to work and follow-up with you.”

We’re all ears, Captain.