UPDATE (1/5): John Aravosis received another statement from the DoD.
I just received a statement from the Pentagon, in the name of Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, in response to our series of stories over the past day about a number of gay and progressive Web sites – including AMERICAblog, Pam’s House Blend, Towleroad, Good As You, Bilerico, The Advocate, HRC’s blog, and the blog of a co-chair of OutServe-SLDN, Josh Seefried – being censored (blocked) by some DOD computers.
From the statement:
In order to help maintain adequate levels of information security in support of DoD policy, some components employ commercial tools that may allow users to visit “news” sites while disallowing pages categorized as “personal sites and blogs”.
No filter is perfect and some sites may have unnecessarily been blocked. The Department Chief Information Officer will work with relevant components to address these situations.
Back-channel communication about resolving this is occurring with the Pentagon, according to John. Now it remains to be seen what comes of this. The major issue is that if the Pentagon has a policy of banning “blogs” then there is no reason why right wing hate blogs run by the Family Research Council and American Family Association should be accessible to service members, but PHB is not. All or nothing.
Surely the work done here (including reporting from the White House and party conventions) is clearly not just “activism” (as if there’s anything wrong with that). Many of the blogs blocked engage in original reporting as well as commentary, and have been credentialed media at political and government events covered by traditional media. Surely they are worthy of consumption by military personnel since the rantings of Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck are.
This is such a sad, pathetic bit of business that I’d normally laugh it off, but for god’s sake, what is subversive about anything I write here on PHB that the tender souls at the Pentagon need their eyes protected from? Do they think the content will give service members the vapors or make them catch THE GAY? John Aravosis:
(Straight news site DailyKos is blocked as well.) And that other gay news sites, like Towleroad, GoodAsYou, and Bilerico, are being censored by the Pentagon for belong to the offending category “LGBT.”
Apparently PHB is not gay enough to be blocked, just “activist/political” LOLOLOL If it were only about politics, then what about this?
We also noted that anti-LGBT political activist sites, like the American Family Association (which is so anti-LGBT it’s an officially-designated hate group) and NOM are not blocked by the Pentagon. (The Pentagon also does not block Republican political activist blogs like Red State and Breitbart, or Republican political activists like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter (several of whose sites also have blogs).
But seriously, John not only uncovered this censorship — the Department of Defense’s anti-”LGBT” Web filter category is bad enough — he also found this filter can snare gay anti-bullying and suicide prevention sites in its trap.
The Department of Defense released a tone-deaf and contradictory statement on its Facebook page when this blew up:
We’ve received some questions/comment recently about DOD’s web access policies, and wanted to provide this statement:
The Department of Defense does not block LGBT websites. The pages referenced in several recent articles were denied access based on web filters blocking the “Blog/Personal Pages” category, not the specific sites themselves. While individuals on a DoD system may visit portions of the main websites (i.e., www.towleroad.com, www.AMERICAblog.com), certain additional links/pages – to include personal blogs – are blocked. Personal pages and blogs are blocked in accordance with DoD policy allowing military commanders the option to restrict access to personal pages for operational security reasons.
As John noted, this doesn’t even pass the smell test.
First off, how can some portions of Towleroad and AMERICAblog be visitable, while the “personal blog” portions of those sites are not visitable by military personnel? We don’t have different parts of our site and neither does Towleroad. So what is DOD even talking about?
Second, if the Pentagon doesn’t ban LGBT content, but rather “blogs,” then why did US sailors today discover that the gay newsmagazine, the Advocate – which is not a blog – is banned on military computers found on board the ship the USS John C Stennis (CVN-74), and has been for over a year?
And for that matter, if we are to believe the Pentagon today that AMERICAblog, for example, is simply being blocked for being a blog, then why is the prominent Republican blog, Red State, not blocked on the same Air Force computers that block AMERICAblog? One is gay and progressive, the other is straight and Republican.
Bzzt. Pentagon #FAIL.
I will say, this situation better “self-correct” in terms a filter adjustment. I don’t have a lot of faith that a DOD led by Chuck Hagel will do a damn thing about this problem.