Thursday, July 14, 2005

Military Blogger Gets Smacked

You'll recall the new rule about military bloggers having to register their blogs -- for security reasons only, of course! Just to watch out for possible problems with security leaks! And maybe revealing names of injured or KIA soldiers!


Guardsman faces probe
over blog comments

By Billy HouseThe Arizona Republic

An Arizona Army National Guardsman whose Web log comments have criticized the Iraq war and who has filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jon Kyl, is the subject of a military investigation in Iraq, the Army said Tuesday.

What exactly Leonard A. Clark is being investigated for is unclear. Clark, 40, of Glendale, is a kindergarten teacher, activist and perennial candidate for public office, and holds the rank of specialist in Arizona's 86th Military Police Company.

Specialist Clark is under investigation, but not under arrest, confirmed Army Capt. Patricia Brewer, a spokeswoman with the military's combined press information office in Baghdad. She said no other details were available regarding Clark from the 42nd Military Police Brigade's Judge Advocate General's office.

Campaigning for public office without permission from the secretary of defense while on active duty in the Armed Forces is a violation of Defense Department regulations.

Clark and others in the 860th MP Company have been deployed in Iraq since March, and are not expected to return to the state until next March.

Even so, on April 7, the Federal Election Commission officially received Clark's statement of candidacy to run next year for the Senate seat now held by Republican Kyl. In that filing by mail, Clark designates his principal campaign committee as Arizonans for Leonard Clark.

Clark's case also illustrates how the military is wrestling with an explosion of opinionated soldier Web logs or blogs, and their content at a time when polls show rising public opposition to the war.

A blog is a Web page maintained as a journal for personal comments. The military recently has adopted a rule requiring soldiers to register their blogs with their chain of command, and subject these sites to regular review. Clark has been critical in his posted blog comments of the Bush administration, saying he believes U.S. soldiers are being killed needlessly.

Fight non-violently for the just and righteous cause of Not One More American Soldier's Life Being Lost. N.O. M.A.S.! he urged in a June 30 e-mail posting.

Maj. Eileen Bienz, a spokeswoman with the state Army National Guard, said guard officials in Arizona have been advised that Clark is under investigation, but that no formal charges have been filed.

However, Bienz noted that about one week ago she received inquiries from outside of Arizona about Clark's blog postings critical of the war.

"His blogging activities were brought to my attention. So I made some inquiries asking, so what is the policy?" Bienz said. "I was told then that it (Clark's blogging) had been brought to the attention of his commander (in Iraq)."

Bienz said she could not say whether the investigation in Iraq focuses on Clark's blogging or issues related to running for political office.

Whatever the specific focus of the Army's investigation and regardless of whether Clark intentionally may have instigated this controversy to gain more attention for himself, the intensity of the Internet chatter about his situation is giving him some national notice.

For instance, the online magazine Daily Kos has been providing updates.

Clark previously has run for the Arizona House of Representatives in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and for the state Senate in 2000.

Clark, who since March has twice telephoned The Arizona Republic from Iraq to talk about his plans to run as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, could not be reached through his e-mail address this week. District 12 Democrats in Arizona, on their way into a meeting in Litchfield Park on Monday evening, declined to discuss Clark.

Clark's wife, Marisela, said her husband called her Tuesday morning to say he "was not arrested anymore" and told her not to worry about him.
"He sounded very different and very sad, but he said, "I'm OK,"" she said. "But I am really afraid for him."

She said he told her he was arrested for "having a big mouth about his politics."

Kevin Spidel of Litchfield Park, who says he is Clark's friend and who also is the national political director for Progressive Democrats of America, said he was abruptly advised by Clark in an e-mail on Monday that he'd been ordered by his commander not to publish any more comments on the Web.

Spidel said Clark's blog never revealed information that would jeopardize himself or his fellow soldiers.

Sent to me by the Iraqi Vet.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

Ouch, military people are not allowed free speech, hmmmm. In the sixties when people opposed the Vietnam war, they, too, were not allowed to oppose the war or the president. This is just another example of the present administration taking giant leaps back in time. It is also another example of how important it is to pick your career wisely.