US Military Thought about Recruiting — or Hiring — Bloggers
I’m looking at you, McGuinness:
A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested “clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers.”
Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.
This 2006 report for the Joint Special Operations University, “Blogs and Military Information Strategy,” offers a third approach — co-opting bloggers, or even putting them on the payroll.
It’s a remarkably cynical document, concerned solely with getting the military’s message across at any cost. Here’s a taste:
Information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence… to pass the U.S. message. In this way, the U.S. can overleap the entrenched inequalities and make use of preexisting intellectual and social capital. Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering. On the other hand, such operations can have a blowback effect, as witnessed by the public reaction following revelations that the U.S. military had paid journalists to publish stories in the Iraqi press under their own names. People do not like to be deceived, and the price of being exposed is lost credibility and trust.
I hereby pledge that, as a blogger, I have not been recruited, purchased, or “made” by the US military (or the mafia, for that matter). Who will join me?