Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Should Bloggers Keep Their Mouth's Shut?

Since this is already all over the blogosphere, I don't feel posting will cause any damage.

Yesterday, a story broke on a blog entitled EXCLUSIVE: Mullah Omar Captured

Here is the problem: Mullah Omar is the Taliban leader, is extremely close to Osama Bin Laden and his #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and probably has a very good idea where both are hiding.  It would behoove us to extract information from Mullah Omar before  Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri find out so that we have a reasonable chance of catching them.  If they find out, they might quickly flee.

Therefore: when this type of information leaks out to bloggers, should they be willing to keep their mouths shut so as to give US forces time to do their thing before the wrong people "find out"?

However, to me asking bloggers not to report sensitive material is like asking that nobody on the internet to download music they didn't pay for. Pie in the sky.  I have mixed feelings about this but on a practical level I would think it would be easier to stops leakers than to stop bloggers.

But I'm interested in what the rest of you think?


  1. I think that anyone who blogs or reports news must be somewhat responsible concerning public safety, etc.
    I would hope that bloggers would give such sensitive information at least 24 hours before posting, so as to give nations the chance to respond to the data before it goes stale.

    I know in the world of viruses/malware/etc., many companies/groups that find holes in software will notify the developer and then give them a certain number of days to review/fix the problem before they post it. This ensures the problem is not ignored, but also prevents wildfires from destroying the Internet, as well.

  2. I think once information reaches the bloggers, the oil is already on the beach, so to speak. The real problem is farther up the line and closer to the source. A little self discipline and forethought would be nice, but yeah, that's a fantasy world.
    Is the recent story about the iPhone and Gizmodo the same kind of thing?

  3. "The real problem is farther up the line and closer to the source." I agree. I think whoever leaks things to bloggers has done the worse thing.

    As for the iPhone, I don't feel bad for Apple one bit. If anything, seeing how they reacted to the situation made me feel even less sorry for them. They make good products but they don't have to be jerks about it. (John Stewart had a good piece on this recently.)

  4. I guess I agree with Stan. If the information is so sensitive, how did the bloggers get it in the first place? I doubt the CIA has an official blogger who writes about "stuff we're doing here that we're telling you about, because we trust you, but please don't tell anyone else. Really." or "The official government intelligence blog that we're posting because we really hope Bin Ladin doesn't know how to use Google and thereby find this stuff." I guess I'm just saying if it's still that sensitive, then it shouldn't be released in the first place. If it's old enough that it's probably not useful anymore anyway, then it makes some good PR for them.


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