Monday, July 02, 2007

War Without Secrets

[posted by Callimachus]

Bill at INDC Journal writes:

Marines in Iraq told me to keep hush-hush about a related technology that accomplishes the same task as the Prowlers. I immediately went and googled a report from a tech magazine (a la, but not, Popular Mechanics), that detailed the model and operation of the technology, including exposition of their weak points and counterstrategies, all presented in a tone of dispassionate analysis. I forwarded the article to a Marine who became a proper mix of pissed and horrified. This technology is commonly discussed on the web (in mainstream outlets) to varying degree, in articles several years old. The tactic is widely understood by insurgents, who have moved on to new tricks (some of which are still legitimately classified). The fact that withheld similar information is indeed odd and to their credit, though I suspect it wasn't terribly newsworthy, and therefore less tempting. On the whole, media has but one goal, and that is to reveal information, consequences be damned.

I was also told that I couldn't report on the Explosive Ordinance Disposal robots that grab suspected IEDs and put them in a safe place to be detonated. I thought that was a bit much, but wasn't bothered by complying with the request. But after arriving back in the States, I saw an EOD robot in a stylized Army recruiting commercial broadcast on national television, in addition to seeing them in dozens of other places in various media.