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Muzzling Soldiers Is Nothing New

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    Muzzling Soldiers Is Nothing New By David H. Hackworth 10-11-2004 Soldiers For the Truth: sftt.com Politicians and military commanders were lying about how
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 14, 2004
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      Muzzling Soldiers Is Nothing New
      By David H. Hackworth
      10-11-2004
      Soldiers For the Truth: sftt.com


      Politicians and military commanders were lying about how wars were
      progressing long before the sword and the shield first clashed. And
      the long distances and delayed communications made censoring what was
      reported to citizens no big stretch.



      After all, from the Greek Wars to Gettysburg, it took months for
      letters and casualty lists to travel by runner, boat, pony and
      finally, rail. By the time the bad news arrived from the front, the
      dead were buried and the battle long over.



      But as war morphed from cannonballs to aircraft to missiles,
      communications also zoomed along – from printing press, telegraph,
      radio, TV and satellites to the Net.



      Even so, the Thought Police headquartered in space-age offices in
      Washington, D.C., are still trying to bend any and all information
      about military campaigns. Our leaders know that in democratic
      America, they must have popular support for their wars, and they
      won't keep it if folks start to think we're losing and being lied to.



      The propagandists' mantra seems to be the ancient Greek proverb, "In
      the land of the blind, the one-eyed Cyclops rules the land." It's
      become standard drill to keep the truth for the leaders' eyes only.
      Especially when the real story is a downer.



      During the Vietnam War, the Eddie Adams's, Kevin Buckleys, Joe
      Galloways and hundreds of other daring young reporters brought us a
      blow-by-blow about what was going on.



      But after dealing with the fallout, Washington vowed that never again
      would the press have so much access and freedom. And from Grenada to
      Panama to Kuwait to the reporters embedded last year in Iraq, the
      Pentagon has been into keeping the American people in the dark. For
      example, caskets are no longer allowed to be photographed, the number
      of evacuees from war zones and the causes behind any evacuations are
      now covered up, and reporters in general are ever more carefully
      controlled.



      But one thing no one can control is the Net. Today there's a laptop
      in almost every bunker, manned by grunts who are a whole lot smarter
      and faster than their watchdogs. Which means that despite a hogtied
      press corps, we're getting the unspun word from Iraq – and the news
      ain't good.



      The brass are going nuts trying to stop this electronic tsunami of
      truth that's washing over the land courtesy of a generation of sharp
      kids who've been armed with computers since age 4. Kids who glory in
      staying three irrepressible steps ahead of their minders via blogs,
      dummy ISP addresses and cute tricks like sending e-mails to cutouts
      for forwarding to guys like me.



      So the brass have reverted to the weapon they've used to silence
      warriors since long before Caesar was running Rome: intimidation. The
      troops are being warned: Shut up; and if you don't button it, you'll
      be drummed out of the service.



      Sgt. Al Lorentz wrote a piece from Iraq (See "A Sergeant Speaks the
      Hard Truth," Special Reports, Sept. 30, 2004, SFTT.org). He now faces
      disciplinary action for "disloyalty" and "insubordination." He could
      end up with 20 years in the slammer if found guilty.



      An officer in Iraq who has asked to remain anonymous says: "The
      establishment here wants to present the picture that everything is A-
      OK when it's too often not the case. Soldiers shouldn't be punished
      or made to feel like they're disloyal, not part of the team,
      troublemakers, whiners, dissenters, malcontents, etc., etc., just
      because they give somebody a true sitrep on certain things going on
      over here. But sadly this is the case."



      Then there's the personal attack on anyone with a point of view
      that's different from the party line: You're un-American; or you're
      supporting the enemy or not supporting the troops. The latest tactic
      is to say you're sending out mixed messages that hurt troop morale.



      But according to our soldiers in Iraq, this is just not true. They
      say their morale is in the toilet because of how badly the war's been
      handled, not because of what's being reported or debated by
      politicians.



      "I resent the fascist-style approach that tries to paint any
      objection of current policy as traitorous," says Ken Druhut. "I am a
      proud vet and gratefully enjoy the freedoms that our military has
      provided. But this Gestapo stuff has to stop."


      Amen.



      --Eilhys England contributed to this column.



      Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.) is SFTT.org co-founder and Senior
      Military Columnist for DefenseWatch magazine. For information on his
      many books, go to his home page at Hackworth.com, where you can sign
      in for his free weekly Defending America. Send mail to P.O. Box
      11179, Greenwich, CT 06831. His newest book is "Steel My Soldiers'
      Hearts." © 2004 David H. Hackworth.

      Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@....

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