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Courage Campaign website blocked by Dept. of Defense computers in Iraq


by Robert Cruickshank

We recently heard from a Californian deployed to Iraq that the Courage Campaign’s Progressive Voter Guide – and in fact, our entire website – is being blocked by Department of Defense computers in Iraq, whereas right-wing sites remained available. Today a reporter for The Hill confirmed the story:

Courage Campaign, a 700,000-member grassroots organization, has demanded in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that access to its site be provided before the Nov. 2 Election Day….

In contrast, the group said a number of web sites that espouse conservative views can be accessed on Defense Department computers.

The Hill independently confirmed that the Tea Party Express site can be accessed on Defense Department computers while the Courage Campaign site cannot be accessed. Courage campaign said it has received information that web sites affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition, California Election Forum and Christian Voter Guide through the Defense Department computers in Iraq.

Courage Campaign acted on a tip from a prospective Californian voter deployed to Iraq.

“It is an enormous problem because the election on California is extremely important,” Rick Jacobs, the founder of Courage Campaign, said in an interview.

Earlier this week Jacobs wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates demanding that access to our website be restored. Courage Campaign has not received a response. The letter was cc’d to President Obama, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and key members of the California Congressional delegation. Here’s the letter:

[scribd id=40498901 key=key-2hcgvamkebvap29us95y mode=list]

The Hill posits a possible explanation for the blockage:

However, there could be other possible explanations for the blocked site, such as an automatic filter that sifts through specific words. The Courage Campaign site uses multiple references to “sex” (as in same-sex marriages) and “gay” (as in anti-gay, or gay rights). The site also contains information and action items on the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members.

However, other sites that also use the words “sex” and “gay” – including the right-wing sites listed above – are not blocked. Hell, if you are going to merely block a site because it has multiple references to “gay” and “sex” you’d be blocking the New York Times, CNN, and Wikipedia, to name just a few.

We at Courage Campaign have been given no explanation for what is going on here. Needless to say, it is extremely troubling. Voters have a right to access our guide, and soldiers and other support personnel in Iraq (or anywhere else, for that matter) have a right to access our site and others like it. If this is a matter of political censorship, it has no place in our armed forces.

With Tuesday’s election looming and our troops filling out ballots in Iraq, we are going to stop at nothing to make the site – and our voter guide – accessible to American soldiers who want to vote.


  • 1. Alan E.  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:30 am

    It's full of teh gayz!

  • 2. Michelle Evans  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Unfortunately, not surprised to hear of this news. Fits the pattern that the right wing zealots don't want people to have equal access to information and facts than they want equal rights for all citizens–only those who think exactly like they do.

  • 3. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Yup. This is really not surprising. There has been more than a few signs that the Religious Right has been trying to turn the military operations in to the next Crusades, and the soldiers into a Christian Militia.

  • 4. Bob  |  October 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm



  • 5. Bob  |  October 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    @Bob, duhhh, you dumbo, I got it, can someone maybe twitter or tweet it to them or send it by private e-mail, I know there's a larger issue here, but I'm thinking about the election

  • 6. rick jacobs  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:43 am

    We cannot let this go. If they are blocking our site, what else are they blocking? Who makes these decisions? Do commanders in the field decide what troops may know and what they may not? Is the Pentagon really okay with that?

    This is very frightening stuff. And it all matters with an election three days away.

  • 7. Sagesse  |  October 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Rick, that's the key question: What else are they blocking… that isn't pornography?

  • 8. Chris in Lathrop  |  October 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Checking the calendar to make sure it's not 1984…

  • 9. grod  |  October 31, 2010 at 2:39 am

    @Chris in Lathrop
    When tomorrow you turn to next month, don't be suprised… except the second was on a Friday.

  • 10. JonT  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:44 am

  • 11. Ann S.  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:55 am

  • 12. StraightForEquality  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:08 am


  • 13. Ronnie  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:59 am

    The Homophobic Christian Reich are trying to silence us….. XO …..Ronnie

  • 14. Bob  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

    agreed rick, we cannot let this go, they are blocking our freedom of speach, and access to information, is there some way we could get around this just for the next few days, like an alternate site with information only about voting.

    How can we best get appropriate info to them during this crucial few days. The issues surrounding control of information to troops may take longer than a few days to argue.

  • 15. Ķĭŗîļĺę&  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Hello from Russia!

    Funny story, earlier today I installed a new version of my antivirus software, it had some addons for my browser to prevent me from opening malicious websites, and when I tried to look what's going on here, on P8TT, I was told that P8TT contains pornography and erotic elements and I should not visit that website (forgot to turn off parental control)…  I was shocked about that — why would they think this website has pornography… but, I guess, these days anything about gays and their same-sex relationships is just porn, 'cause, you know, that's all we care about… aha…

    — ♂K♥F

  • 16. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Wow I thought the filters were better than that now. They were like that about 10 years ago when I was in school. I was trying to do a paper about the women's rights movement in the 60s in the US, and could not get to any helpful websites. Apparently, sites about women, sex, gender were "pornographic" even if they were academic papers!

  • 17. Shannon  |  October 31, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I was at a Sheraton Hotel in southern California a couple weeks ago, and P8TT was blocked from the lobby computers, as was SFGate! I don't think it had anything to do with the hotel management, it was the software they were using. Clearly there are still filters out there that are working against us, whether intentionally or not.

  • 18. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:06 am

    This is outrageous. I'm glad Courage Campaign is taking action on this. Thank you Rick and everyone who is doing something about this!

  • 19. Tim  |  October 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

    This is the kind of thing that goes on in Communist China and Vietnam – not the United States of America. It's shameful. Courage Campaign should escalate this to the mainstream media, like the NY Times, LA Times, etc. Put the pressure on, FAST before it's too late. Otherwise, the DOD will just ignore it for a few days and then say "Oops, sorry, it was a mistake" but the election will have passed.

  • 20. Bob  |  October 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    that's why I suggest seeing if there is an alternate way to get the message to the troops, or wherever you want it, cause it can't wait for a day or two.

  • 21. grod  |  October 31, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Obviously [or perhaps not] this IS the kind of thing that goes on in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as China and Vietnam. Why is the erosion of this right any different than any other civil right, particularly those protecting minorities? I observe that hard fought gains can be easily, if not indifferently, eroded. Oops will be on the lips of those who did not bother to try. Agree Courage Campaign should challenge the mainstream media to bring this abuse to the electorate's attention. We both share a faith that doing so would make a difference.

  • 22. Kate  |  October 31, 2010 at 3:17 am

    And it would be an excellent opportunity to show CA voters the terrific voting guide pdf, which I also used when filling out my ballot. But time is most-assuredly getting short….

  • 23. Santa Barbara Mom  |  October 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Is there any way of getting this out to the main stream media? People really need to know what kind of cr*p goes on behind the scenes.

  • 24. Santa Barbara Mom  |  October 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Guess we are on the same page, Tim 🙂

  • 25. Sagesse  |  October 30, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I wish Pugno the worst karma.

    Calif. Assembly race defined by gay marriage foe

    "But "any suggestion he's one-dimensional on social issues is simply unfair," Stutzman said."


  • 26. Ray in MA  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:05 am

    This election cycle is certainly pouring a lot of money into the economy… we should be THANKED for getting us out of the reccession!!!!

  • 27. Sagesse  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:13 am

    It's a staggering amount of money for one state district, isn't it?

  • 28. Sagesse  |  October 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Coverage from Iowa

    Vander Plaats says Branstad will be pressured to act on gay marriage

  • 29. Richard A. Walter (s  |  October 30, 2010 at 11:59 am

    One more example of the pseudo-religious radicals attempting to turn us into a theocracy.

  • 30. Sagesse  |  October 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Didn't read everything, but this looks like a good resource for bi-national couples.


  • 31. mackenzie  |  October 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Happy Halloween everyone! I love my gay peop7le!

  • 32. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Happy Halloween, mackenzie.

  • 33. Felyx  |  October 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Happy Halloween All! Hope the spookiest thing you ever really see is on this website! (What with the censorship and all.)


  • 34. Chris in Lathrop  |  October 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Happy Halloween, and happy Samhain! <|:)

  • 35. Lesbians Love Boies  |  October 31, 2010 at 12:20 am


  • 36. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Happy Halloween to you too! Have a Fabooolous Day!

  • 37. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Oral Roberts's grandson says "It Gets Better." The whole video is moving, but the last two minutes are joyous.

  • 38. Ray in MA  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:27 am

    WOW. WOW. WOW.

    That was incredible.

    All i can say is EVERYONE SEE for yourself.

  • 39. JonT  |  October 31, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I agree. Well worth seeing.

  • 40. MJFargo  |  November 1, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I put off watching this because I grew up in Oklahoma, and as a child I watched Oral Roberts Sunday morning TV show (it was much more entertaining than the church my parents took me to…all that healing, ya know?).

    But internalizing all of that stuff as a child–it was hate not healing that they actually peddaled–I was lucky enough to purge myself of it and move on.

    This young man's testimony is so powerful. (And, boy, does he look like his grandfather.) And to see that former face, now, peddaling love is its own form of healing.

    Thank you so much for posting this. (It proves 'it gets better ' for us all.)

  • 41. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Oral Roberts as in …Oral Roberts University? The wacko right wing college?

  • 42. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Yep. That Oral Roberts.

  • 43. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Oh. Wow. Guess change can happen in the space of a generation!

    Oh, I have a legal question for you. How important are written dissents at the federal level? I've seen dissents used as a basis for legal arguments in TV. Does that happen or is that just Hollywood being dramatic?

    For anyone who watches Project Runway Tim Gunn has an It Gets Better video too.

  • 44. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Dissents in Supreme Court cases are often cited. They also sometimes become an important part of later decisions when the earlier precedent is overturned. See, for example, the references to Justice Stevens's dissent in Bowers in the majority opinion in Lawrence.

  • 45. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Also, in the Perry case, the plaintiffs' briefs have cited Scalia's dissent in Lawrence.

  • 46. Rhie  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Oh that's really cool. Thanks 🙂 I will have to go back to look at those.

  • 47. Kathleen  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    And here's his blog:

  • 48. yoshi  |  October 30, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I run these filters for our company. The issue is most likely something was reclassified automatically. It happens all the time. There can be the very same website that can be blocked or unblocked depending on which URL you use to access it.

    So sorry can't get fake outraged over this.

  • 49. Ronnie  |  October 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    It's the 13th Day of Halloween… Happy Halloween…. MMMMMUAHAHAHAHAHA… NO TREAT GET A TRICK!!! …


  • 50. Sagesse  |  October 31, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Well said.

    Why do church leaders hate the troops? Many would abandon our troops over DADT repeal.

  • 51. Leo  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:20 am

    If a chaplain preaches against homosexuality, he could conceivably be disciplined as a bigot under the military's nondiscrimination policy, the retired chaplains say.
    Someone enlighten me, please: could a chaplain be disciplined as a bigot today for saying that Jews are going to hell?

  • 52. Steve  |  October 31, 2010 at 9:08 am

    What non-discrimination policy? That part was removed from the original Military Readiness Enhancement Act to make it more palatable to Republicans.

    There are non-discrimination rules for things like race and gender. But not sexual orientation.

  • 53. Sagesse  |  October 31, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Vote as you will, but please VOTE. Food for thought.

    LGBTs: Don't Abandon Obama

  • 54. elliom  |  October 31, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Do we know if they're blocking other "liberal left" (to use their terminology) sites, or just CCI? Are the sites available for HRC, Lambda Legal, etc? If those sites are still available, this might just be a mistake (though a MAJOR mistake). If these sites are also blocked, then we definately need to make a huge stink about this.

  • 55. elliom  |  October 31, 2010 at 1:21 am

    This reminded me that I still hadn't filled out my ballot. *sigh* Now I'll have to deliver it by hand on Tue.

    Thx for the guide CCI!

  • 56. Kathleen  |  October 31, 2010 at 2:51 am

    No surprise here.
    Generation Gap Divides Troops On Gays In Military

  • 57. equalconservative  |  October 31, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Why would the military block pornography? Isn't that the great military cohesiveness builder? Don't ask don't tell promotes pornography. Straight porn that is. Think about it. Straight porn is a great defense against a DADT dismissal. Not having it might raise some suspicion. Maybe our military should stop discriminating and start behaving in a more professional manner. Porn has no place in other places of employment.

  • 58. Rhie  |  October 31, 2010 at 7:05 am

    It is against DOD policy for any DOD computer to have it. That doesn't mean much, though. In reality, it's just "ok, well, don't get caught."

    Personally, I think the DADT policy and the porn block policy and the anti-condom policy is all part of the same insane prudishness of the US. I think that also explains the equation of LGBT with sexual acts, too. We just need to get over it already.

  • 59. equalconservative  |  October 31, 2010 at 4:34 am

    and while im somewhat off topic but on the subject. how horrified mrs cleaver must be to find little wally's copy of playboy and big'uns under his mattress that he lifted from waldens at the mall! Or, is she actually somewhat relieved? At least he isn't gay!

  • 60. Kathleen  |  October 31, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Sadly, we just lost Mrs. Clever this month.

  • 61. equalconservative  |  October 31, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Ok. Getting off my soap box now. And back to my real screen name. 🙂

  • 62. Tim  |  October 31, 2010 at 5:15 am

    I've tried to email a copy of the link to the story on Courage Campaign's website to two different news stations and each time, my connection went down… I've emailed the link to friends and they got it… What the heck???

  • 63. Steve  |  October 31, 2010 at 7:07 am

    *whistles the X-Files theme*

  • 64. Lesbians Love Boies  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Not sure which Iowa event this guy was at…so posting here…

    Um, if this is a taxpayer thing, does that mean that since I have been out the state and government owes me back all the taxes I have paid?

  • 65. Kathleen  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:16 am

    That's Arisha interviewing him.

  • 66. Lesbians Love Boies  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:57 am

    See how much I missed. Wish I had my own 'way back machine!'

  • 67. truthspew  |  October 31, 2010 at 10:47 am

    When I worked for the RI Secretary of State's office we used both Squid proxy and DansGuardian.

    It took about a week but we ended up taking Administration and I.T. out of the DansGuardian group because legitimate web sites were being blocked.

    Some content filters are OVERLY aggressive in traffic they'll block. DansGuardian is one them.

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