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Volume 72, Issue 51, Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Opinion

Soldiers losing link to life back home 

Reid Midgett
Opinion Columnist

We are a country at war; we are at war against terrorism, a war against all threats to the security of this great nation. Our brothers and our sisters give their lives to this cause, fighting the good fight, sacrificing everything for the sake of protecting the citizens of this country. They must leave home, learn how to kill and change their entire lifestyles in order to become soldiers.

Sometimes the only escape from a hellish life of war and death is communication with loved ones, whether that be with letters and mailed videos, or more recently, online journals and Web logs that give insight into their lives as soldiers and defenders of America. 

Yet this one connection to home may be severed.

We have reached a time in this country's relatively short life when students and teachers can be punished for writing about school topics in their personal blogs, a time when nobody is safe from the scrutiny of a government official lurking on the "free" concept of the Internet, a time when privacy has become a special privilege given only to those who have something to hide.

While the leaders of this government secretly toil away on their own agendas, they quietly watch the people fighting for their cause, making sure that they do not say anything to "compromise the safety" of this country.

An operation in Virginia called the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell has taken it upon itself to monitor the blogs and online journals of American soldiers. Its purpose is to search for any information that may put military operations at risk, such as weapon and contact information and camp entrances or official documents. What once was used only in small instances has been expanded to the public domain.

These measures are understandable, since any confidential information that could cause serious risk to the campaign in Iraq could fall into the wrong hands on the Internet. But this also means soldiers must register their sites with officials, and these sites will be regularly monitored. What was once their only private sanctuary and connection to friends and family at home has been taken away. 

Yes, blogs and Web sites can be publicly viewed by anyone, but we still have a sense of privacy without the watchful eye of the government constantly observing us.

The fact that this is being pressed upon the very people who strive to protect us makes the situation more dangerous. If this connection to the outside world is taken away from soldiers, and they lose the will to fight for a world that they can no longer reach, our country is in much more peril than if a terrorist stumbled across a picture of a soldier smiling for those back home.

We need to completely support our troops even if we do not support the war in Iraq. They give their lives for us; the least we can do for them is show that we need them by not taking away the right of privacy they desperately need.

Midgett, a communication junior, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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