Friday, January 06, 2006

Before We Get Started . . .

Assuming that my command will allow me to maintain this web log, it is helpful to establish a few ground rules at the outset.

1. Security First- For obvious reasons, I will have to restrict some content in order to avoid revealing any tactical or classified information that could adversely affect ongoing operations.

2. Time Lags - Because I do not yet know what duty position I'll have in Iraq, I cannot guarantee that I'll have regular computer access, and hence how frequently I'll be able to provide updates. So if I have not posted anything in two weeks, please do not call my wife to make sure I'm okay. It is more likely that I'm being lazy than hurt.

3. No Politics - Okay, so this is probably more akin to a New Year's Resolution than a strict guideline. But if you are reading this blog, then you likely already know my political beliefs. I'm neither egotistical enough to believe that I am right on all issues, nor arrogant enough to believe that I can convince everybody to think as I do. So I will try to do my best to limit this web blog to reporting on what I see and do in Iraq. (Of course, I may occassionally link to articles that I find interesting . . . )

4. Security Last (Anonymity) - I am usually annoyed by bloggers who dodge accountability for their views through anonymous blogging. That being said, I will now explain why I seek to dodge accountability through anonymous blogging.

Because of my proximity to the White House, the Washington Post wanted to do a story about my deployment. The NSC Press Office cleared, and the interview date was set, when the White House Executive Secretary (a former CIA security officer) pointed out that it only takes about 15 seconds to find my home phone number and address online. There has been a problem of NSC officials linked to Iraq policy with public contact information (i.e. academic email addresses) being harassed by anti-war protestors. Although I believe that most anti-war protestors have noble (if, in my opinion, misguided) intentions, it only takes one nut to cross the line and pose a real threat to my wife and newborn son. Moreover, a human interest story in the Post would be the equivalent of taking out a full page ad to any professional thief that my family is home alone while I am deployed. Therefore, I will be blogging under the nom de guerre of "Ben of Mesopotamia" (yes, a somewhat pathetic allusion to T.E. Lawrence) rather than my real name.

Since the purpose of this web blog is to keep my friends and family informed about my activities in Iraq (and to keep my wife from having to answer every email asking how I am doing), I ask anybody who wants to share this web blog with a third-party to please respect my family's privacy in this matter. If I end up saying anything controversial, I will take responsiblity for it at the end of my tour of duty when I can be at home to protect my family.

Thank you.