DOD says it’s banning gay blogs for national security reasons – doesn’t ban FRC’s blog, Red State

The Pentagon has just issued an official statement, on its Facebook page, about the growing controversy over it censorship of gay blogs and other progressive political content on its computers, while not censoring certain anti-gay and Republican political content.

In addition to being incredibly tone-deaf – the Pentagon statement shows that DOD has no intention of rectifying the problem – the statement is flat-out contradicted by the facts.

First, DOD’s statement, then an in-depth walk-through of the Defense Department’s odd, contradictory, statement.

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.

Here’s an imagine of DOD’s response on their main Facebook page (lower left):

dod statement on censoring gay blogs

They don’t block LGBT, but their ban page labels us “LGBT”

Let’s start with this claim by DOD:

The Department of Defense does not block LGBT websites.

Really, then why does the Defense Department categorize banned domestic American political content as “LGBT” on the Pentagon page that notifies the Web surfer about the ban?

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 1.39.55 PM

Why is there if it’s not a category they’re banning?  And why is the Pentagon classifying content as “LGBT” at all?  I don’t see the Pentagon classifying content as “Jewish” or “black” or “Latino.”  So what is doing classifying Web content as “LGBT”? It’s creepy as hell for a government entity that claims it’s not discriminating, to then put us into a discriminatory category that others are not placed into, which is by its very nature “discriminatory.”

They block “blogs,” but Red State blog and Breitbart blog aren’t blocked

We’re to believe, per the Pentagon, that our sites are being blocked, not because they’re “LGBT,” but because they’re “blogs.”  More from the DOD statement:

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.

A few problems.  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. Here’s a screen shot of Red State taken from an Air Force computer in the last day:

Conservative blog RedState is not banned.

Conservative blog RedState is not banned.

Breitbart blog isn’t blocked either:

breit

 

HRC’s blog is blocked, but not FRC’s blog

The DOD computers also blocks the blog of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group, but not the blog for the Family Research Council, which basically is the anti-HRC, and also an officially-designated hate group.  As Josh Seefried, founder of OutServe, and co-chair of OutServe-SLDN, the lead “gays in the military” group noted today, referencing the Blue Coat Internet filter the Pentagon is using:

“The Blue Coat system should not be filtering LGBT period. Nor allowing hate sites such as FRC and NOM.”

But alas it does permit hate sites like FRC’s. Here is FRC’s blog, accessed just moments ago:

frc-blog

DOD blocks personal pages, but not Ann Coulter’s personal page which is also a blog

And the Pentagon tells us that they block “personal pages”:

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

But somehow Ann Coulter’s personal page – which is also a blog – a two-fer in the Pentagon ban filter – slipped through unscathed:

Ann Coulter's Web site is not banned by the Pentagon

Ann Coulter’s personal blog is not banned by the Pentagon

Reading AMERICAblog would risk national security

Possibly the most incredible thing in the entire Pentagon statement is the following:

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.

Really?   That’s the excuse – you banned us for national security reasons.  But Red State is fine, it doesn’t jeopardize US national security.

How exactly does it compromise operational security to let US service members read AMERICAblog and Pam’s House Blend and Towleroad, but it doesn’t jeopardize operational security for them to read Red State?  You can only add content to my blog by commenting.  And you can comment on Red State as well.  So why is the Pentagon now claiming that reading AMERICAblog and other gay blogs (and some straight ones as well, such as Daily Kos) is now a threat to national security?

Dan Savage had perhaps the most appropriate response to the Pentagon’s bizarre statement that AMERICAblog, Towleroad, Pam’s House Blend, Good as You, Bilerico, and HRC’s blog are a threat to the operational security of the US armed forces:

“Makes sense. I understand they hide the nuclear football in the *ss of a pass-around party bottom at the White Party. Wouldn’t want the ruskies to find out about the location of the party.”

What’s really going on

I fear that what’s really going on is two things. One, yes, it’s confusing the entire network of censorship filters the Pentagon has up around the world.  They don’t use a unified system, they have different censorship rules in different services and even different geographic locations in the same service, so it’s difficult for the right hand to know what the left hand is doing.

Well too bad.  You’ve been informed that you’re discriminating against gay content and Democratic content and your answer was to blow us off.

Second, there’s some homophobia and anti-Democratic bias going on here.  It’s the only explanation that makes sense as to why Red State isn’t banned.  Why the Family Research Council’s blog is fine, but the Human Rights Campaign’s blog is a threat to national security.  It’s because we’re all progressives, we’re all Democrats (at heart), and a lot of us are gay.  And any time you tell the commanders that they can ban whatever they want in the name of “operational security,” the weakest among us – and in DOD circles, that’s gay and Democrats – are going to be the first to suffer.

 


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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