The Washington Independent: Inside the Pentagon’s Internet “Civil War,” Part Two

04.06.08

Categorie: Cyberspace, Naval, Reporters |

The Coast Guard, like the military in general, appears to be working at cross-purposes with itself when it comes to the Internet, while international jihadists move from strength to strength online. …

[E]vents unfolded that resulted in the Coast Guard publishing a faked first-hand account of an at-sea rescue on its official “Coast Guard Journal” blog.

That particular blog had been a centerpiece of a new Internet campaign by the nation’s fifth military service. In fact, Capt. Jim McPherson, the Coast Guard’s top public affairs officer, cited this blog in February, asserting his service was ahead of the pack when it came to the military services embracing the Internet.

But there were warning signs just weeks later that McPherson’s statements were mostly propaganda. In mid-March, Mike McGrath, a Coast Guard civilian employee, was fired, in part, for contributing in his spare time to The Unofficial Coast Guard blog, a website with no formal connection to the military, but which, nonetheless, strongly supports Coast Guard policy. McGrath had been posting updates on the blog about investigations into a controversial fatal diving accident. …

But the Coast Guard’s Internet problems were just beginning. A few days after McGrath’s firing, the Coast Guard admitted to fabricating a supposedly first-person “true story” on the service’s new official blog.

The story, published on the online Coast Guard Journal under the byline of the rescue diver Karen Voorhees (pictured), described the dramatic Mar. 12 rescue of several mariners from a sinking boat off the New Jersey coast. “As we hovered overhead near the survivors,” her account read in part, “I prepared myself and my gear and was lowered from the helicopter into a challenging nighttime sea, battling 10-foot seas.”

But the words were not Voorhees’s own. “I did not write that blog,” she said on a popular Internet forum a few days after the story bearing her name was posted.

According to emails leaked to The Washington Independent, McPherson had pressured his public affairs staff to come up with something “sensational.” When Voorhees’s actual description of the rescue turned out to be somewhat dull, McPherson told a subordinate to rewrite it, without Voorhees’s consent. One Coast Guard chief, objecting to McPherson’s order, called the rewritten account a “pulp-fiction drama novel.”

When challenged about the faked story, McPherson said the Coast Guard was still figuring out blogging. “We’ll do better,” he said.

Read the whole story at The Washington Independent.

Related:
Part one
Army’s “virtual front porch”
Navy crew’s blog sunk!

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5 Responses to “The Washington Independent: Inside the Pentagon’s Internet “Civil War,” Part Two”

  1. And the Coast Guard is still doing NO BETTER! The Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced last week that will investigate the failed 123 program. A dozen senior Coast Guard Civil Rights employees have faced “constructive discharge” and have left the service. Documents affecting the outcome of Civil Rights complaints have been altered by Coast Guard Officials, and other documents not provided to contract investigators and Coast Guard Attorney’s. We’ll call this “constructive outcome.”

    Failed Deepwater programs have cost the American Tax Payers hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the end may cost over 1 billion but not one single Coast Guard Admiral has been held responsible … not one!

    As David Axe, Peter Stinson and Thomas Jackson (me) have reported, the Coast Guard nor Jim McPherson himself have not found it necessary to apologize for the faked Petty Officer Voorhees story. Later when it was reported that Jim McPherson plagiarized portions of the updated Coast Guard Public Affairs manual, again no apology and no one held accountable by Admiral Allen. Had a Cadet at the Coast Guard Academy been caught plagiarizing they would have been sent home in shame. McPherson gets caught in a very public way and he gets ZIP. That’s the example set by Coast Guard leadership … selective accountability, responsibility and liability.

    We’ll continue to take the hard line at CoastGuardReport.org that Coast Guard Accountability stats at the top and works its way down, because at the end of the day we believe that Transparency Breeds Self Correcting Behavior in those who want course correction. The questing is does Admiral Allen want correction?

  2. Jay Reeder says:

    The US Coast Guard is an “Armed Service”, not a “Military Service.” There are four military services (USA, USAF, USN, USMC), five armed services (4 + USCG), and seven uniformed services (5 + PHS & NOAA).

  3. TR says:

    Actually, the term Military Service is not a recognized term under law. Armed Service is, and you bet-ya the Coast Guard is an Armed Service.

    TITLE 10 > Subtitle A > PART I > CHAPTER 1 > § 101§ 101. Definitions
    (a) In General.— The following definitions apply in this title:
    (1) The term “United States”, in a geographic sense, means the States and the District of Columbia.
    [(2) Repealed. Pub. L. 109–163, div. A, title X, § 1057(a)(1), Jan. 6, 2006, 119 Stat. 3440.]
    (3) The term “possessions” includes the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Guano Islands, so long as they remain possessions, but does not include any Commonwealth.
    (4) The term “armed forces” means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
    (5) The term “uniformed services” means—
    (A) the armed forces;
    (B) the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
    (C) the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

  4. [...] Related: Part one Part two Army’s “virtual front porch” Navy crew’s blog sunk! [...]

  5. [...] Axe published in The Washington Independent: Inside the Pentagon’s Internet “Civil War,” Part Two as well as at his blog WarIsBoring. I left the following comment to his article at WarIsBoring: And [...]

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