• Hey Alec Ross!

    January 11, 2012

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State

    I saw on your DipNote blog post that you wrote:

    As information networks become more ubiquitous and powerful, new movements and power structures are forming, others are being disrupted, and the speed of communications is making all of this take place at a blistering fast pace. Connection technologies are changing the ecology of politics and government.

    In a speech last February, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Internet Freedom, the necessary backbone for people to be able to exercise their universal rights in an increasingly networked world. In her speech to a global audience, Secretary Clinton said:

    “I urge countries everywhere instead to join us in the bet we have made, a bet that an open internet will lead to stronger, more prosperous countries. At its core, it’s an extension of the bet that the United States has been making for more than 200 years, that open societies give rise to the most lasting progress, that the rule of law is the firmest foundation for justice and peace, and that innovation thrives where ideas of all kinds are aired and explored. This is not a bet on computers or mobile phones. It’s a bet on people.”

    Alec, can you do me a favor and compare that to this or this or this?

    See, I am under written order to preclear my every article, blog post, Facebook update, and Tweet with State. Your Public Affairs Bureau regularly monitors me online and sends daily written reports to my “telework” boss declaring another blog post has slipped through (they aren’t always very good at it and often miss stuff, but I’ll never tell).

    Our Department’s “preclearance” requirements are totally out of date. Originally designed for a 19th-century publishing model, its leisurely 30-day examination period is incompatible with the requirements of online work, blogs, Facebook, and Tweets. But the Department has refused to update its rules for the 21st century, preferring instead to use the 30 days to kill anything of a timely nature. What blog post is of value a month after it is written, never mind a Tweet? Worse yet, the rules are used selectively against blogs that offend, and allowed to silently pass on blogs that do not (list here on your own site).

    In fact, I have been told (off the record, of course) by four Department officials that the “last straw” was a late October blog post that spoke offensively about Secretary Clinton. I guess one is not allowed to say things about the Dear Leader, even though in America free speech covers stuff as offensive as crude criticism of our public figures.

    It is almost as if State is using the tools of its bureaucracy to silence voices it does not like. Sure, no one has pepper sprayed me, but c’mon, isn’t destroying someone’s otherwise pretty standard career after 23 years in retaliation just a leftward spot on the same continuum as those countries who also seek to silence those they find disagreeable? Start the reforms at home, because even if State wants to pretend none of this exists, people are watching.

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