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Another Military Blogger Silenced

Matt, The Tattered Coat

October 24, 2005

Months ago, in response to a post I wrote about the military blogger Colby Buzzell, Kate of Broken Windows told me to pay attention to Daniel Goetz, a soldier writing a blog called All the King’s Horses.

Regrettably, I never followed her advice. And now, as Lizzy, Fred, and Navyswan tell us, it is too late.

It is too late because Daniel has been silenced, against his will. And not only has he been silenced — he has been forced to publicly declare himself "a supporter of the administration and of her policies."

A stop-lossed soldier angry that he is still serving in Iraq, seven months beyond his original enlistment agreement, Daniel is no longer free to post on his blog. Though he had taken care to adhere to the code of conduct to which he is bound, it is likely that a post of his on the Operation Truth website brought his views to the attention of military officials.

Daniel’s final post is heart-breaking; the single most chilling thing about it, if you know your Orwell, is its title: Double Plus Ungood.

I thank all of you who have been so supportive recently. I have never before received so much positive feedback, and it was very heart-warming to know that so many people out there care. Having said that, it breaks my heart to say that this will be my last post on this blog. I wish I could just stop there, but I can not. The following also needs to be said:

For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission, and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction.

I apologize for any misunderstandings that might understandably arise from this. Should you continue to have questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail. I promise to respond personally to each, but it may take some time; my internet access has become restricted.

posted by Daniel at Saturday, October 22, 2005

Daniel remembers now: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

It’s one thing when a civilian blogger like me uses Orwellian language to describe the current administration and its policies. It’s something else, entirely, when someone feeling the brunt force of authoritarian rule pulls out his copy of 1984.

If you want to know what Daniel sounded like before, and observe the brilliance and care with which he suggested his views, read this post:

S.O.S.

We - the forlorn Atlas, who bears the burden of lofty decisions - salute you, the free. May this day be a blessing to you and yours as you celebrate your freedom from the clutches of tyranny and strife. May your beer be as cold as the hearts of your enemies and your fireworks carry the zeal of your patriotism.

On this day, may you not be napalmed by an invading Army. May you not be tortured for a parking violation. Today, may your hometown not be bombed. When you sit down to eat tonight, may armed men not barge into your house and search your wife’s underwear drawer. May you not be zip-tied, marched outside, beaten and shot in the face.

God Save America.

God, save America.

Daniel wrote "S.O.S." on July 04, 2005, in the rockets’ red glare.

Update: Others who have written about Daniel’s post include: The Poor Man, Suburban Guerrilla, Crooks and Liars, Robot Wisdom, Sivacracy, Antiwar.com, Corrente, Shakespeare’s Sister, Fact-Esque, Feministe, Rubber Hose, All-Spin Zone, Buzzflash, Metafilter, SusanG at Daily Kos, AlterNet, Democratic Underground, War and Piece, Kung Fu Monkey, and WhatReallyHappened.com.

Michael Farrell, a retired soldier writing on The Defeatists, considered Daniel’s final post and reflected on the limits of a soldier’s duty:

I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and obey the officers appointed over me; I didn’t swear to uphold the officeholders appointed or elected over me. So, forbid blogging; forbid email; forbid streaming videos; forbid the whole digital world and while I think you’re fucking idiots, I could salute and support it. But, hit those who are critical of policy and threaten them with punishment — surprising how many articles of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice list as death maximum punishment, which can get your attention — and we got a beef.

In his second-to-last post, Daniel wrote about the importance of speaking out:

Operation Truth has published my story as their Veteran of the Week profile. I am excited and nervous for the extra attention this will attract. Excited because the army is trying very hard to muffle the cries of battered soldiers, abused by the system they are sworn to protect. Each time our story is heard by someone new, the country comes that much closer to understanding what is happening to us in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Update #2: Kate writes:

I understand the need to keep "sensitive" information off the web. And perhaps these commanders have read "critical" wrong, thinking it applies to writing that criticizes the administration rather than information essential to military operations. (It wouldn’t suprise me given the misuse of words and the bleeding of meaning that have been trademarks of the past five years.) But having read everything Daniel has written this year, including Club Fed and Remember Petey, two highly amusing works of expert satire, I can say (and swear on the Bible, y’all!) that he did not once, not ever, give away any information about where he was, what his unit was up to, or how they did what they did. Nothing at all.

Update #3: Navyswan was the first blogger to bring attention to Daniel’s post. A commenter there explains the Newspeak meaning of "doubleplusungood" for those unfamiliar with 1984

From the Newspeak Dictionary:

double plus - A Prefix used to create the superlative form of an adjective or adverb. (i.e. - pluscold and doublepluscold meant, respectively, 'very cold’ and ’superlatively cold’.

ungood - Bad. One of the rules of newspeak is that any word can be turned into its antonym by adding the prefix "un-". This allowed the removal of repetitive words such as horrible, terrible, great, fantastic, and fabulous from the language.

Update #4: As a graduate student in English, one of the things that interests me about this case is that any reading of it involves significant questions of literary and rhetorical interpretation. Can implied, ironic meaning be construed as a straightforward expression of a particular position?


:: Article nr. 17128 sent on 25-oct-2005 03:21 ECT

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