Military Mom Reports Government Harassment over Private Internet Presence

Robin Vaughan, the mother of a combat soldier, reports significant military harassment over a private and closed small group website on MSN. The site was established as a support group for “moms” of service members from one unit deployed overseas.

From ICH:

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.

Vaughan goes on:

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 reasons.

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 site.

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.

Even in these days of frequent new reports of domestic spying, it seems this is one group of people the government would have chosen not to harass. Props.

11 Comments
  1. I’m aware of that — which is why I did a mostly cut-and-paste piece, as opposed to providing personal opinion. I could find no other substantiation of the facts, at this time. I’ll let you know if some pass my RSS feeds or inbox, though.

  2. Well… either…

    It will be labeled a hoax and rightfully so. OR

    It will be labeled a hoax and it will be so only due to being swept under the rug… OR

    These families will stick to their guns go public as hell and demand to be treated like citizens and not cattle. (we can hope)

  3. “Even in these days of frequent new reports of domestic spying, it seems this is one group of people the government would have chosen not to harass.”

    I’d have to agree with what Homeland Stupity and Stop Huring America said. There just isn’t enough information given for one to decide if this really happened or is just a hoax. What I’ve been able to find on my own on this raises more questions then answers.

  4. There are many items in the original letter that point to this being a hoax. Two of the strongest are:

    1) the letter writer claims that the phone calls were made by the Army in the middle of the night. It would not happen – think what you want about the Army, they would not upset families by calling them in the middle of the night unless it was an emergency.

    2) the letter writer claims that the ACLU will not take action due to the length of time that has passed. If the ACLU believed there was merit, this would be trumpeted from the front page of the New York Times.

    The letter doesn’t pass the smell test and this is no doubt why it didn’t get as much traction as even the now discredited story of the student who claimed his family was visited by federal agents for checking out Mao’s Little Red Book.

    Just some comments from another military mom…

  5. While i can’t say for sure that this story is a hoax, there are some things about it that make me doubt it.

    Other then blogs and websites, no one is picking up on this story and even those websites that did publish Robin’s letter, it’s falling to the back pages.

    There is a Robin Vaughan who lives in Washington and while I know her exact address and phone number, I’ve made no effort to contact her directly. Robin is also a member of a politcal forum which I also belong to but she hasn’t been there since the 26th.

    Robin has made references in other places to the 66th MP Company and that unit had deployed to Iraq the same time her son Kevin, Robin identified her son’s name in a letter she wrote to Michael Moore, was there so I’m assuming Kevin was for a time attatched to the 66th MP Company. There was a website at MSN groups by the name of “66th MP Company, Fort Lewis, Washington” but it has been deleted.

  6. After reading this letter on a few blogs, I’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to track it down without success. I found very few references to “Robin Vaughan,” except for one or two entries at http://www.democrats.com. In those, there was no mention of a son in Iraq or harrassment by unnamed military hooligans in the middle of the night.

    I’m retired military and absolutely agree that this thing just doesn’t pass the ‘smell’ test. Those who blindly accept it as truth are engaging in wishful thinking, in my opinion.

    I sent an email to “Robin Vaughan” at the address listed in the letter ([email protected]), inviting her to contact me directly. I said that I had a number of specific questions, the answers to which would help me verify her story. I also asked that she have her son “Kevin” contact me for the same reason.

    So far, there’s no response from either “Robin” or “Kevin” and I doubt that there will be. If there is, I will come back here and share it.

    OCO

  7. Sorry, in my early morning stupor I listed myself as Owl Creek ADVISOR. That should be Owl Creek OBSERVER. I wouldn’t want to generate even more conspiracy theories. ;-)

    OCO

  8. I’ve been paying attention to this story since it first came out but it appears to have died and is making it’s way to the back pages of the forums and blogs where it has been posted.

    Robin joined a couple of forums shortly after her e-mail was first published, made a few comments and then stopped posting all together towards the end of December and I haven’t seen her anywhere on the internet since.

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