The group ‘Veterans for Bernie’ announced on Sunday evening that they have confirmed with active duty military that the website for Bernie Sanders is currently being blocked on bases and provided the Bipartisan Report with video to prove it.
They further noted that the websites for GOP front runner Donald Trump and Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton appear to work just fine.
A representative for Veterans for Bernie told Bipartisan Report that the lack of access to Sanders’ website has been tried and confirmed by an Air Force captain and army Staff Sgt. at Fort Campbell, as well as by an overseas service member. The group stated that they will be actively looking into the issue.
Veterans for Bernie also took to Twitter to ask others whether or not it is working on other bases, which remains inconclusive.
— Veterans For Bernie Sanders (@vets4bernie) December 21, 2015
The group acknowledges that it may be a glitch or only happening at select bases, but are firm that it must be rectified immediately.
If the military is censoring Sanders’ website, it may be the first time for a presidential candidate, but it would not be the first time in recent memory that they have barred political content.
Following Edward Snowden’s highly controversial disclosures on the mass surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency, the military blocked access to the Guardian’s website for troops in Afghanistan, the Middle East and south Asia. The news site’s ban was later reported to be Army wide. The Pentagon and Army claimed that automated content filters installed on Department of Defense networks to prevent the unauthorized dissemination of classified information had blocked access to “selected aspects” of the Guardian’s website, but it had actually restricted the entire site.
In August of last year, The Intercept reported that their website was also being censored by the military over the Snowden disclosures.
When members of the Army, Navy, or Marines attempted to access the website they reported errors stating that they were “attempting to access a blocked website” that had been barred for “operational reasons” by a Department of Defense filtering system.
“Even though I have a top secret security clearance, I am still forbidden to read anything on the website,” an anonymous source told the Intercept. “I find this very disturbing that they are threatening us and telling us what websites and news publishers we are allowed to read or not.”
While there may arguably be the whole “national security” issue for those, despite the information was already in the public domain, it gets worse.
In 2013, Mother Jones reported that LGBT websites like the Human Rights Campaign blog and OutServe-SLDN, a website that supports gay members of the military co-founded by Air Force officer Josh Seefried, were both blocked despite “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” being overturned by President Barack Obama in September 2011.
Popular progressive websites such as Daily Kos were on the blocked list as well, though all conservative websites of a similar set up seemed to pass though unfiltered.
The Department of Defense issued a statement on Facebook following the allegation and said it “does not block LGBT websites” specifically, but that the sites “were denied access based on web filters blocking the Blog/Personal Pages” category. This would be a semi-reasonable explanation — if Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh’s sites did not pass though their system freely.
In 2007, Think Progress also reported that they were being censored on military bases after being flagged as “Political/Activist Groups; Blogs/Newsgroups.” They noted that the block came shortly after they published an article highly critical of President George Bush’s war policies and which advocated a “responsible and deliberate redeployment from Iraq.”
The American military prides itself on being consciously depoliticized — meaning that all soldiers shed politics and political affiliations when they put on their uniform and are free to hold any political beliefs that they see fit once they take it off. However, through controlling and manipulating the information that soldiers have access to, some may argue that the military is leaning into dangerously Totalitarian territory.
While our military may not have formal requirements of political loyalty that you would see in a Totalitarian state, the outright blocking of certain websites — perhaps including a popular presidential candidate — sure sounds mighty similar.
Featured image via Twitter