Letter From a Military Mom:
Domestic Spying & Incident of Intimidation of Military Families
By Jack Dalton
-- -- It wasn’t that long ago that the military command in Iraq
started pulling computer access to various units. Seems some of the
troops were writing emails home to family, to friends, to various
anti-war groups and the like, and the military was getting a bit
disconcerted by that. After all, can’t have your own troops pretty
much turning the “official news” on its head now can you? So what do
you do? You shut them up and any way that you can. Let them know
they are monitored works pretty good.
But, what about the “moms” back home that are writing on the
internet? Moms like Robin Vaughan, whose letter detailing her recent
experiences with the Department of Defense and the Army is below.
Moms writing back and forth to “sons and daughters” in Iraq, who
might “slip” and tell “mom” what life is really like in Iraq; Can’t
have that now, can we? What if the “moms” start telling others what
their sons and daughters are telling them (at least the ones that
are still able to access a computer). Can’t have that people might
turn against the war ON Iraq. I guess we better threaten and
intimidate the moms so they’ll keep their mouths shut, stay off the
internet and just go home and be a mom. Doesn’t matter to the
military these moms only wanted to do what moms do, especially
military moms, worry and take advantage of the internet to chat with
sons and daughters.
This is pretty much what has happened to Robin Vaughan, the mother
of a young man who was in Iraq. We have a DoD and Pentagon
(military) that has become the foreign policy ‘setter’, and
enforcement arm for the Bush/Cheney cabal--(you know, the guy who
said, with a smirk, that he broke the law then pretty much asked,
what are you going to do about it?)--that is now attempting to
eliminate the rights, the very speech of a group of mothers with
sons and daughters in Iraq.
Read Robin’s letter. Write her. Give her your support—what has been
done to her and the other mothers in her group cannot go unanswered!
This will only get worse the longer we delay in taking this nation
back from the crooks, thugs in whose hands it now is in. Too many
Iraqi’s; too many of our own; just too many, period have been killed
and maimed already! Now moms are being threatened…what next?
(Definitely a rhetorical question)
Robin’s letter came to me thru VAIW (Veterans Against the Iraq War).
I have since exchanged a couple of emails with Robin and phone
calls, and plan on helping her get this story out—read her letter
and join me. –- Jack Dalton
Letter From A Military "Mom": Domestic Spying &
Incident of Intimidation of Military Families
By: Robin Vaughan
I am sending this letter to you in hope of finding a source to hear
my concerns. It is something that has bothered me since the
occurrence, and I know it is not something that should have
happened, and I worry for my family's safety as I step out to speak
During my son's deployment to Iraq, February 2004-February 2005: I
created a small group website on MSN, for families and friends of
our soldiers’ deployed unit. It was a membership only site, and we
were a tight group of mostly "Moms", from all over the United
States, just trying to make it through each day. The support and
help we gave one another is a singular experience of grace, I will
During the first few months of our site, the Army decided to call
every single family on the site, informing them, that the site was
not to be used by any of the families. The Department of Defense
called families in the middle of the night to notify them to not use
the web site. Most of the families were near tears, thinking they
were getting "THE" call telling them their child or loved one had
been killed or injured.
The information received via the phone call was to inform the
families that the base did not condone the site, nor [did] the Army,
and that it was not to be used; the gist was, families were not
allowed to use the site, or they could get into "trouble". Some
members reported their soldier calling from Iraq, telling them to be
careful about using the site as the Army was monitoring it.
As Web Mistress of the site, I needed to respond and qualify this
information, as well as to educate this commanding officer as to the
rights and liberties of a private web site; which I did. I was told
I would have to let a commanding officer on the site to monitor the
messages; I did allow this, but I also informed the officer that
this was a courtesy, as there is no such law, or right of the
military to monitor, shut down or exclude our web site.
I believe we received this order, and treatment for a couple of
Occasionally we would voice our concerns publicly over what our
government was failing to do to help our soldiers, or we would share
or argue political opinion as well. The second reason may be: the
armed services all have a group of their own family type support (FRG);
as we were not local to the base our soldiers deployed from, the
site was a means to provide that support, as best as we could.
The support group at our base, tried to force the site to be given
over to them, which I refused. At this time I was told, I might want
to be careful, as the government was monitoring the site as well.
Soldiers in our unit, while in Iraq, were telling their parents to
stay off of the site, or to be very careful of what they wrote. This
came from a rear detachment officer in charge, and members on the
I reminded the Army I am a private citizen, not on base, with a
private site making no claims to have any affiliation with any
branch of service, but clearly stating we were families and friends
of our unit in support of one another. We were treated to power by
intimidation. It isn't hard to make that work, when you have
someone's child in a war zone.
We were a group of 77 families from all over the country, at the
time of the call. Every single family was phoned and told not to use
the site; and I believe some 150 other families were phoned as well,
as it was an official order from a commanding officer.
I have waited to speak of this situation until my son was home safe
and sound, and also after his transfer to another base. Yes, I was
afraid of repercussions that could have harmed him, one way or
another. I called my local senator's office, 4 months ago, following
up every 10 days to 2 weeks, and still have no answers or support.
I admit I am not comfortable writing this, as required to, as I am
still concerned for my son and the other soldiers and families
involved on the site. We didn't endanger them by means of displaying
their photos with their names, giving up information about their
location and actions. We were very careful to not breach Intel
protocol, learning Ops protocol, as well as respecting and complying
with it. We simply were at times, vocal about our displeasure with
our president and government for how our military was being treated,
or how the presidential election was being handled.
There are literally hundreds of military family, private support
groups on the Internet. I truly believe we were singled out because
of my refusal to hand the site over to the local F.R.G., as well as
[my] outspoken political beliefs.
It's simply amazing that my son and others risk their lives for
”Freedom" in Iraq, when his own mother's civil liberties are
threatened, and families are intimidated into silence, by the very
same Army he is serving. I am hoping after reading this you may
direct me as to where I can at least have this concern heard.
Basically, are the following common practice, and legal?
**The Armed services can order families from communicating in a
**The Armed services can threaten private citizens’ first amendment
I want to make sure this is not happening to other service member's
families. We live in a hell everyday during the deployment of our
loved ones; we don't need the added bullying or stripping away our
means of helping one another.
Any idea or direction you can point me in would be greatly
appreciated. Also, this problem can be corroborated by other
families if need be.
Why did it take so long for me to step forward?
Originally I contacted my Senators office, with no reply for six
months, and have also spoken with the A.C.L.U; (with little hope of
action due to the length of time that has passed) but until now was
not willing to come forward in a public way. It took until September
for my son to be safely stationed at another base, and other
family's service members to either be out of the service all
together, or be transferred as well.
We were afraid for their safety, our own, our relationships with
them and their future in the service, all of these things could have
been affected, and we couldn’t chance one more problem or pressure
being added to the already heavy load the families and soldiers live
with. The intimidation worked. Is this just something silly I should
It doesn't seems trivial to me, but I am learning unless it happens
to someone personally, no one seems to care.
Thank you, for your time
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