Writing about IEDs
Really good article by a reporter who has been covering improvised explosive devices in Iraq:
Last summer, a U.S. Colonel in Baghdad told me that I was America’s enemy, or very close to it. For months, I had been covering the U.S. military’s efforts to deal with the threat of IEDs, improvised explosive devices. And my writing, he told me, was going too far—especially this January 2005 Wired News story, in which I described some of the Pentagon’s more exotic attempts to counter these bombs.
None of the material in the story—the stuff about microwave blasters or radio frequency jammers—was classified, he admitted. Most of it had been taken from open source materials. And many of the systems were years and years from being fielded. But by bundling it all together, I was doing a “world class job of doing the enemy’s research for him, for free.” So watch your step, he said, as I went back to my ride-alongs with the Baghdad Bomb Squad—the American soldiers defusing IEDs in the area.
Today, I hear that the President and the Pentagon’s higher-ups are trotting out the same argument. “News coverage of this topic has provided a rich source of information for the enemy, and we inadvertently contribute to our enemies’ collection efforts through our responses to media interest,” states a draft Defense Department memo, obtained by Inside Defense. “Individual pieces of information, though possibly insignificant taken alone, when aggregated provide robust information about our capabilities and weaknesses.”
In other words, Al Qaeda hasn’t discovered how to Google, yet. Don’t help ’em out.