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Scrubbing the Internet of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales



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I can buy the Pentagon’s assertion that they’re trying to protect Bales’ family, but as this article points out, that’s really impossible in the Internet age. McClatchy:

Besides waiting nearly a week before identifying the Army staff sergeant who’s accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers, the U.S. military scrubbed its websites of references to his combat service.

Gone were photographs of the suspect, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, as well as a recounting in his base’s newspaper of a 2007 battle in Iraq involving his unit that quoted him extensively.

But not really.

Given the myriad ways that information remains accessible on the Internet, despite the best efforts to remove it, the material about Bales was still out there and available, such as in cached versions of Web pages. Within minutes of the Pentagon leaking his name Friday evening, news organizations and others found and published his pictures, the account of the battle — which depicts Bales and other soldiers in a glowing light — and excerpts from his wife’s personal blog.

So why did the Pentagon try to scrub Bales from the Internet in the first place?

The military said its intention in removing the material wasn’t to lessen the Army’s embarrassment over the horrific attack — nine of the victims were children — but to protect the privacy of Bales’ family.

“Protecting a military family has to be a priority,” said a military official, who like several interviewed for this story spoke only on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

The rest here.



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