19. January 2005 · Comments Off on Memo: Throwing Stones at Frogs · Categories: General, Media Matters Not

To: Ms Boxer @NY Times, and other Major Media Players
From: Sgt Mom
Re: OpSec

Here at the Daily Brief, a collective blog of present and past members of the various military services, one of the very few general guidelines I have established concerns the practice of OpSec. OpSec, or Operations Security, can be boiled down to one simple concept; never give away anything you know that someone might use to kill you or someone else. Mind you, a determined and lucky spy can eventually find out whatever they want to know, but as a military broadcaster I considered it a point of honor to make them work as hard as possible. All the imps in hell would have to be fitted out with long winter underwear before I would thoughtlessly spill something on the air, or in print about a scheduled operation, or the specific location of a high-ranking officer, vulnerabilities in our base structure or security… any number of items which might be considered valuable bits of essential information to a hostile power.

Because, you see, if I did… people might die.

Let me repeat that again: people might die.

People I knew, or didn’t know, people who wore the same uniform, or no uniform at all. They would be painfully, messily, permanently dead, because of my story, a story which would be so much archived wastepaper, or magnetized tape by the next day.

I couldn’t cope with knowing that I had lightly and thoughtlessly handed over information to an enemy which resulted in those deaths.
I realize of course, that you may be unused to consider this; in certain rarified worlds, speculation that someone is a CIA agent may just get one snubbed at trendy cocktail parties, or not invited in the first place. There is no harm, no foul there, in passing on airy speculation about who works for whom. Unfortunately, carelessly repeating speculation, without analysis or even going to the extent of a debunking has the unfortunate result of validating it. In the real world, this often has fatal results, and in this current instance has put you into the position of appearing to paint a big fat “x” on the forehead of an Iraqi blogger for the sake of a jazzy headline with your name under it.

I prefer to attribute this lack of care on your part to ignorance, rather than malice. I beg you, in this time of war, to carefully consider how certain elements in your future stories may be used by those of hostile intent
As the poet, Bion of Smyrna observed “Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest.”

Sgt Mom

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