Pentagon Cracks Down on Web Access, Blogs

The Pentagon has begun restricting U.S. military personnel's access to networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube, and imposing stricter rules on military bloggers. For many troops stationed overseas, these networking sites and blogs help them keep in touch with family back home.

The Department of Defense says it doesn't have the bandwidth to support the extra traffic these sites bring. It has also cited security concerns.

Military bloggers — or "milbloggers," as they're known — include troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as civilians working in the Pentagon and family members of those serving in the military.

"These are the most authentic, most honest voices out there," says Noah Shachtman, who writes Danger Room, a national-security blog for Wired. "They're some of the best sources you'll find on how progress on the ground is really developing."

By reading blogs like BlackFive.net, compiled by Mathew Burden, a former paratrooper, "you'll learn all kinds of stuff that will only show up in the papers days and weeks later," Shachtman tells Steve Inskeep.

The Army has issued a regulation requiring troops to get their superior officers to approve any blog postings or even e-mails. While that's not practical on a daily basis, Shachtman says, the rule hangs over a soldier's head, "telling him in effect, 'Watch what you say.'"

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