Every month my mother goes to a military base to pick up her prescriptions — a health benefit from my father’s many years in the U.S. Air Force. As much as she appreciates this benefit attached to my father’s service, she has become increasingly more frustrated with each visit. From every corner of the Base Exchange, a television blares with Fox News. Not any other news station nor even ESPN. Just Fox, all Fox, all the time.
And that is what is particularly disturbing about the U.S. Air Force’s decision to block the New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and The Guardian of London, Spain’s El País, France’s Le Monde, and any other news organization that has offered full-text of Wikileaks cables. The Air Force says it is just being consistent because it already has blocked the ever-changing Wikileaks’ site, and it blocks all sites that leak classified information. Sure, work computers should be used for work and not surfing. Yet what the Air Force successfully has done is created a ban on entire information sources while still allowing, and at times appearing to promote, Fox.
That’s scary enough but military users who try to get into a rogue site, also known as the nation’s newspaper of record, face a screen that reads: Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored. They are threatened with punishment for even trying to look at the New York Times. Sure, military personnel can use their home computers … but their supervisors warn they just might get in trouble from that too.
So on the very day the House votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Air Force introduces a new monkey: Don’t Look.