Skip to comments.U.S. Military Report on Use of Blogs in Warfare Credits Free Republic
Posted on 04/01/2008 7:04:03 PM PDT by kristinn
An unclassified 2006 report by the Strategic Studies Department of the U.S. military's Joint Special Operations University relates the story of how Freepers, followed by others in the blogosphere, took down Dan Rather over the forged Killian memos as a way to demonstrate the growing ability of individuals using the Internet to influence the world at large.
The report also discusses the feasibility of "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers" for information warfare and of the reticence the military has toward using the Internet for disinformation campaigns.
The report was authored by Maj. James Kinniburgh and Dr. Dorothy Denning. The authors demonstrate an incomplete knowledge of the facts in some areas of the report (to put it gently), but they are reasonably accurate in the telling of how Free Republic exposed Rathergate.
Link to PDF file of 50 page report at City Pages.
If you prefer to download it from a DOD server, that can be done here.
Link to City Pages article on report.
Link to Wired.com article on report.
The first mention of this report was found on Blogger News Network last Friday. Curiously, that article has been pulled. However, it can be found in Google cache.
The moonbats are starting to howl, of course.
Wired.com's Danger Room is faslely getting credited with breaking this story. Blogger News Network's pulled story appeared three days before Wired noticed it. (Note: I saw the Blogger News network story the day it came out. Computer problems prevented me from posting about it then.)
The introduction to the report:
September, 2004: The 2004 presidential campaign is in full swing and the producers of the television news show 60 Minutes Wednesday, at CBS, have received a memo purporting to show that the sitting President, George W. Bush, had used his family connections to avoid his service obligations. The story, given the controversy and ratings it will generate, is just too good not to run. On cursory inspection, the documents and their source appear legitimate. On September 8th, 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes and anchorman Dan Rather decide to air it
Within minutes of airtime, posted discussion participants at the conservative Web site FreeRepublic.com posited that the documents were faked. Bloggers at Power Line1 and Little Green Footballs (littlegreenfootballs.com) picked up these comments and posted them and their associated hyperlinks on their own blogs. The clues to the now infamous Killian memo forgeries, the bloggers pointed out, were the superscript th and the Times New Roman font; both indicated the use of modern word-processing programs rather than a 1972-era typewriter. The signatures on at least two of the documents appeared to have been forged, and some with experience called into question the very format of the memo, purported to show orders issued to then-Lieutenant Bush. The story was given even greater attention after noted pundit, Matt Drudge, posted a link to the Free Republic thread on his own Web site, The Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com).,
What followed initially was what is known as a blogswarm, where the story was carried on multiple blogs, and then later a mediaswarm. As a result of these phenomena and CBS inability to authenticate the documents, several CBS employees, including producer Mary Mapes, were asked to resign. Within a month, Dan Rather announced his own retirement.
What garnered considerable interest afterward was how a group of nonprofessional journalists was able to outperform and bring down two icons of the traditional media, CBS and Dan Rather. CBS executive Jonathan Klein said of the bloggers, You couldnt have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances (at 60 Minutes) and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing. 2
Some columnists, like Corey Pein at the Colombia Journalism Review, explained the spread of the story (a.k.a., Memogate, or Rathergate) as the result of journalistic haste and the rapid coalescence of popular opinion, supported and enhanced by a blogging network of Republican story spinners.3
CBS offered its own explanations for the problems surrounding the story in its final report on the matter. The CBS reviewers found four major factors that contributed to the incident: weak or cursory efforts to establish the documents source and credibility, failed efforts to determine the documents authenticity, nominal efforts at provenance, and excessive competitive zeal (the rush to air).4
Despite the fact that the initial questions about the CBS story were posted on a discussion forum instead of a blog, the partially erroneous attribution of the entire Memogate incident, and other stories that followed, to bloggers likely increased public awareness of blogs and blogging, and their potential power to influence. Governments have noticed this potential, and many authoritarian governments censor blogs believed to threaten their regimes. Iran has imprisoned bloggers who offended the ruling mullahs. At the same time, however, Iranian officials recognized the value of blogs to information strategy, holding the Revolutionary Bloggers Conference to promote pro-regime blogs in February 2006.5
The rise of military bloggers from deployed areas such as Iraq has raised concerns with U.S. Department of Defense officials that information posted in a blog could compromise operations security (OPSEC). Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that caters to the overseas military personnel, quoted a recent memo from the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker:
The enemy aggressively reads our open source and continues to exploit such information for use against our forces, he wrote. Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information to Internet Web sites and blogs. Such OPSEC violations needlessly place lives at risk and degrade the effectiveness of our operations. 6
This paper explores the possibility of incorporating blogs and blogging into military information strategy, primarily as a tool for influence. Towards that end, we examine the value of blogs as targets of and/or platforms for military influence operations and supporting intelligence operations. Influence operations are a subset of information operations (IO) that includes the core capabilities of Psychological Operations (PSYOP) and Military Deception (MILDEC), and the related capabilities of Public Affairs (PA), Military Support to Public Diplomacy (PD) and Civil Affairs/Civil-Military Operations (CA/CMO). To evaluate the IO potential for blogs, we seek answers to two questions:
1. Are blogs truly influential, and if so, in what manner?
2. Does the information environment support blogging as part of an information campaign?
Before addressing these questions, however, we first review the nature and structure of the blogosphere.
Bump for later.
What they fail to mention, however, is that Free Republic is not a "blog". It is a "Forum".
Just like the Roman Forum may have contained thousands of people on a given morning, from Cicero to Julius Caesar to a Vestal Virgin to a centurion to a Greek slave to a street urchin, Free Republic's Forum, on any given day can contain thousands of people with more collective experience that 60 Minutes could ever assembled in one place.
From practicing law to presiding over the Roman Senate to performing religious ceremonies to planning a military campaign to conquer all of Gaul to fighting in the ranks of a Legion to teaching mathematics to cooking a banquet for 50 people to stealing a purse, somebody at the Roman Forum at that particular morning had years of personal experience at it.
Likewise, the experience of the Free Republic Forum is not merely individual but collective.
From writing software to performing surgery to landing an F-14 on the deck of a carrier to writing military memos with 1970's era typewriters, a FReeper in the Free Republic Forum has been there and done that.
The "multiple layers of checks and balances at 60 Minutes" amount to what? A couple of dozen staffers?
Free Republic's multiple layers of checks and balances are composed of thousands of individuals with more decades of collective experience than the entire 60 Minutes research department has years of life.
FREE Republic rocks!
In the days of media monopoly you would call BS and toss something at the TV.
The wife and kids would look at you like you were crazy and the dog would flee the room...and your words fell on deaf ears.
Now with the internet, you call BS and there is another follow who understands and seconds the opinion, and a third.. and the word spreads and soon, thanks to folks like Newsbusters FR,Powerline and Little green footballs, the lie is exposed.
DAVID SHAW: RATHER’s work ‘Sloppy, Slipshod’ not Liberal..?
The recognition is deserved - FR continues to be of tremendous
assistance to many!
The recognition is deserved - FR continues to be of tremendous
assistance to many!
There was that picture of the Iraqi woman holding two fresh cartridges in her hand; the caption claimed that they had penetrated her home and caused whatever sort of havoc.
Bringing down those responsible for the faked National Guard story was fun back in 2004.
I’d say that the *power* of discussion forums is in their feedback loop...lots of people can get involved in a conversation quickly, and they can rapidly adjust to new information as it becomes known to the group.
It’s similar in that “feedback” quality to how capitalism sees markets adjust prices based upon feedback from producers (supply) and consumers (demand).
And anytime you can compare a new paradigm directly to the radical and uber-powerful force of capitalism, you’ve got yourself a new winner.
I’m proud to be part of it.
Dunno what I can contribute, but I’m happy.
So I can read my posts...
I'm still doing it. There's a whole lot of stuff I don't say because it just wouldn't be cool.
So there. Come and get me, copper.
BTW, so far, it's quiet this morning.
Well put. And the MSM doesn’t understand that, and probably is structurally and ideologically incapable of ever understanding that.
Additionally, reputable blogs not only fact-check the lazy or intentional misreporting of the drive-by’s but they fact check each other.
A reputable blog will correct and acknowlege any inaccuracies and provide all substantiating links.
They do mention it. From the reports introduction:
Despite the fact that the initial questions about the CBS story were posted on a discussion forum instead of a blog,
Those two sentences make me smile.
CBS executive Jonathan Klein said of the bloggers, You couldnt have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances (at 60 Minutes) and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing. 2
Pajama Patrol still trumps the [nonexistent] multiple layers of checks and balances at CBS.
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