General Encourages Weblogging; Weblog Causes Trouble in Yemen

by Sean Hackbarth

A couple stories on weblogs came across my radar the last few days. First, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, head of the Combined Arms Center [CAC] and Ft. Leavenworth has assigned his faculty and students to weblog:

Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, who heads the Combined Arms Center [CAC] and Ft. Leavenworth, told his soldiers in a recent memo that “faculty and students will begin blogging as part of their curriculum and writing requirements both within the .mil and public environments. In addition CAC subordinate organizations will begin to engage in the blogosphere in an effort to communicate the myriad of activities that CAC is accomplishing and help assist telling the Army’s story to a wide and diverse audience.”

Noah Shachtman notes this is a quite different stance than other parts of the military. Lt. Gen. Caldwell realizes the blogosphere isn’t going away. The military is better off engaging it and taking part instead of constantly reacting.

Second, a New York-native living in New Jersey has become a thorn in the side of the Yemen government for promoting free speech and freedom of the press:

Jane Novak, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in New Jersey, has never been to Yemen. She speaks no Arabic, and freely admits that until a few years ago, she knew nothing about that strife-torn south Arabian country.

And yet Ms. Novak has become so well known in Yemen that newspaper editors say they sell more copies if her photograph — blond and smiling — is on the cover. Her blog, an outspoken news bulletin on Yemeni affairs, is banned there. The government’s allies routinely vilify her in print as an American agent, a Shiite monarchist, a member of Al Qaeda, or “the Zionist Novak.”

The worst of her many offenses is her dogged campaign on behalf of a Yemeni journalist, Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani, who incurred his government’s wrath by writing about a bloody rebellion in the far north of the country. He is on trial on sedition charges that could bring the death penalty, with a verdict expected Wednesday.

Ms. Novak, working from a laptop in her Monmouth County living room “while the kids are at school,” has started an Internet petition to free Mr. Khaiwani. She has enlisted Yemeni politicians, journalists, human rights activists and others around the globe. Her blog goes well beyond the Khaiwani case and has become a crucial outlet for opposition journalists and political figures, who feed her tips on Yemeni political intrigue by e-mail or text message.

She says her campaign is a matter of basic principle. “This is a country that lets Al Qaeda people go free, and they’re putting a journalist on trial for doing his job?” she said. “It’s just completely crazy.”

With the barriers to entry reduced it’s become easier and easier for anyone to quickly take part in the online conversation or stand up to an oppressive government. Weblogs probably may not become the dominant media format but they will continue to be more influential.

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7 Responses to “General Encourages Weblogging; Weblog Causes Trouble in Yemen”

1

Thanks for linking to the NYT – Yemen thing, Sean. Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani is due for sentencing tomorrow, and every signature on the letter protesting his arrest and imprisonment (and especially the potential for execution!) puts the vile Yemeni gov’t on notice that Americans are paying attention. There is actually a good chance we can make a difference here!

2

BTW, here’s the link to that letter:
http://campaigns.aicongress.org/yemen/

(Yeah, I’m shilling it to anyone who will listen.) ;)

3

[...] The American Mind (Sean Hackbarth) [...]

4

[...] Blogger and former Fred Thompson for President eCampaign Director Sean Hackbarth brought up an interesting set of observations today regarding the military and its policy towards soldier-blogging.  As the late military blogger Andrew Olmstead noted (along with a number of other tech blogs and news sources), many of the members of the military had been blogging in violation of Defense Department directives. [...]

5

[...] Blogger and former Fred Thompson for President eCampaign Director Sean Hackbarth brought up an interesting set of observations today regarding the military and its policy towards soldier-blogging.  As the late military blogger Andrew Olmstead noted (along with a number of other tech blogs and news sources), many of the members of the military had been blogging in violation of Defense Department directives. [...]

6

[...] The American Mind (Sean Hackbarth) [...]

7

[...] The American Mind (Sean Hackbarth) [...]

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