What are we saying and to whom?
September 13, 2001 9:22 PM   Subscribe

What are we saying and to whom? Several of the posts here at MeFi are starting to report fairly detailed information about reserve units who being called up for service and where, as well as movements (Link purposly omitted) of aircraft and tanks and other, potenially damaging information. Before this gets out of hand let me remind everyone that we need to remember that "the world" is watching and could be reading anything posted openly on the Internet. I won't censor my opinions but I am going to actively start reviewing the information in my messages before I hit "POST" I hope others will do the same.
posted by dewelch (17 comments total)
wouldn't you think, though, that anything posted on here will have been already distributed on the internet and through other mass media sources? i doubt that any of what has been posted here is truly classified or possibly damaging, and if it is, i guarantee that "the enemy" knew about it before metafilter did.
posted by surblimity at 9:36 PM on September 13, 2001

Good point, and good timing -- thanks for bringing it up. Discretion is extremely important in situations such as these, and it seems we have many folks in the MeFi population with a healthy background in military service that could offer very useful information for us laypeople, but also potentially useful for the wrong contingents. Rumour has it that Rumsfeld was lambasting Orrin Hatch yesterday for spilling the beans on something or other that he considered relatively classified at the time.

On that note, it'd be nice if the media were a little more discreet as well, though based on the questions I hear from the press corps at the White House, they don't quite understand the meaning of the term. I can hear Brokaw now:

"Vice President Dick Cheney has been moved to a secure location... no, wait, I'm sorry, that's Camp David, located at 123 President Way, Relaxville, Maryland, phone number 456-789-0123, I repeat, 456-789-0123. He will be there for the next 2.5 days, unless something else potentially happens, in which case they will quickly transport him to a secure location in Nevada, no, wait, can we get more detailed information on that? Thanks..."
posted by evixir at 9:41 PM on September 13, 2001

No, in many cases the information gleaned from here would be buried by the mainstream press due to its sensitive nature. I can't imagine Tom Brokaw sharing such information with the nation, especially not right now.

Eyewitness, up to the minute reports of troop and equipment movement, specific to a given area can be very useful, especially to those planning further terrorist strikes within the US.

I think the WWII adage still works admirably well..."Loose lips, sink ships!"
posted by dewelch at 9:41 PM on September 13, 2001

I severely doubt that Vice-President Cheney is actually AT Camp David. Secure location? You bet! Maryland? Maybe. What they are really saying is he is in a safe location a fair distance from the President. I can live with that.
posted by dewelch at 9:44 PM on September 13, 2001

what's been reported in the media is out there already.

but we've shown mefi to be a great ad hoc source of information as thousands of "reporters" post about what they can see.

so, for a change, we need to use a little bit of responsibility. (unlike the kaycee debacle where addresses and the like were being posted.)
posted by rebeccablood at 9:46 PM on September 13, 2001

Yes, dewelch, you know what I meant -- why say anything about his whereabouts? Just say a safe location and leave it at that. So long as I knew the President wasn't sitting duck in the Oval Office when the third plane was doing its dive-and-roll maneuvers around the White House lawn, I didn't need to know exactly where he was, and didn't feel much safer with the media reporting exactly where he was. Keep them secured, shut your mouths, and leave it at that, that's what I say.
posted by evixir at 9:49 PM on September 13, 2001

well, news media always seems to face this charge, and with the growth of Weblogs, I guess it was a matter of time before it was lodged against other sources of information as well.

Most news sources are extremely interested in protecting their reputations, since their credibility is basically their strongest asset. To those ends, information regarding troop movements and the like usually is what's released by the Pentagon. (One presumes that the Pentagon doesn't have any problem with the information getting out if their public information office is releasing it.)

Most news organizations (again -- your mileage may vary) also keep these sorts of security concerns in mind. Without getting too specific, they'll often hold back information if, in their view, the public doesn't need to know. I know of two different major news sources that KNEW where the President was on Tuesday...but they didn't report it.
posted by Vidiot at 10:14 PM on September 13, 2001

Here's where you get the goods. Most of it is in the clear. It's interesting listening to say the least. I know I sleep better with the Python and Irish flights above my head.
posted by @homer at 10:31 PM on September 13, 2001

Two major news organizations keeping back the president's whereabouts isn't catering to the 'need to know' mantra, but keeping to the 'lets be smart' ideal.

As for posting sensitive things here and not worrying because 'mainstream' won't pick it up.. uh, who cares about mainstream.. it's the fucking terrorists that outplayed out CIA and FBI, as well as the British, Russian,a nd Chinese intelligence we're worried about.

Not to mention.. anyone lese been contacted by the media about how we seem to keep in touch over the net?
posted by rich at 10:35 PM on September 13, 2001

Not to mention.. anyone lese been contacted by the media about how we seem to keep in touch over the net?

posted by rebeccablood at 10:52 PM on September 13, 2001

I heard that MeFi was included on a segment on the ZD TechTV network.
posted by dewelch at 10:55 PM on September 13, 2001

oh, sure, now the mainstream media wants in....
posted by rebeccablood at 10:57 PM on September 13, 2001

my husband is in military intelligence. his security clearance, on a good day, makes our average "so, honey, how was your day?" dinner conversation pretty pointless. but he still tells me bits and pieces of information, that, compartmentalized as they are, makes them unclassified.

my point is: you get this many people on the web, sharing a detail here and a detail there, and pretty soon you have a security breach. there are people out there who know what they're looking for, and how to put the pieces together.

i'm not saying i advocate any form of aggression by our government right now -- that's another topic for another thread -- but if there are plans afoot for anything, let's at least do our best to keep our servicemembers safe. even if you're a pacifist (as am i) and/or have strong negative feelings about our military, respect that members of the american military are also parents and spouses and children of innocent people, just like those who were killed on tuesday.
posted by damn yankee at 11:22 PM on September 13, 2001

While I agree that we must be cautious (especially if we have any numbers of any sort), it should be remembered that others do not have the care we have, or the desire to keep U.S. interests safe, and will most likely post anyway.

dewelch has the right idea about loose lips.
posted by j.edwards at 11:43 PM on September 13, 2001

If it's on Metafilter, it's already in the mainstream media?

Need I remind you of the power of the collective??
posted by fooljay at 1:12 AM on September 14, 2001

I am smiling-what makes you think anything released to the media is going to be accurate? hehe........
posted by bunnyfire at 3:55 AM on September 14, 2001

Loose lips sink ships.
posted by entropy at 9:25 AM on September 14, 2001

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