WorldNetDaily, the leading independent Internet news site, has been blocked from computers on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps bases across the country for an undetermined period of time, and an investigation has been launched into how – and why – that happened.
Members of the two military branches have peppered WND with questions about why their requests to read the latest U.S. and world news, as well as columnists such as Ann Coulter,
Chuck Norris, Pat Boone, and Judge Roy Moore have been denied.
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Thomas Dull, left, Lt. Stella Nealy, center, and Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Eduardo Pallanes study a computer monitor at Naval Network and Space Operations Command in San Diego, Calif. The military is looking into why many Navy and Marine bases have completely blocked access to WND.com
Now, Marine officers in Quantico, Va., confirm they have begun looking into why the hundreds of thousands of members of those two branches of service are being denied the opportunity to read WND.
“I sent (the question) to the appropriate folks. They can research it,” Capt. Teresa Ovalle told WND yesterday. “I don’t know how long it will take.”
WND’s own server statistics show the news site has a huge following among members of the military. Statistics gathered over just a few days show that from computers with an address ending in
“.mil,” indicating a military source, there have been readers coming through almost 1,000 Internet service providers.
But it shows that nearly without exception those are from “army.mil” and “af.mil” sources, with a few from “pentagon.mil” and “centcom.mil.” None have been from Navy or Marine locations.
One Marine at Camp Pendleton was among the many who had contacted WND recently. He said the military Internet service allows access to CNN, FoxNews, DrudgeReport, BBC, NPR, MSNBC “and all manner of off-beat news pages.” But he confirmed that requests for WND were met with a response that the page was forbidden.
When WND contacted officers at Camp Pendleton, a media relations staff member confirmed that her attempts to call up the news site were “forbidden.”
Lt. Esteban Vickers explained the Internet system for the Navy and the Marine Corp is run by a contractor, and those results would be identical at bases all across the country.
Ironically, for the past 10 years WorldNetDaily has been immensely popular among U.S. military personnel, with countless service people both stateside and abroad emailing WND insider news tips, concerns and notes of appreciation. Indeed, from recent stories like the dismissal of Navy Chaplain James Klingenschmitt for unauthorized praying all the way back to one of the defining issues of the 2000 presidential election – the suppression of the military vote and the subsequent court-ordered recount of Florida’s military votes – WND has taken the lead on stories important to the U.S. military.
“If yours is a news site, there should be no reason for it to be blocked,” Vickers confirmed. But when he tried, it was.
“Page cannot be displayed. There is a problem with the page you are trying to reach, and it cannot be displayed,” was the message he got.
Sailors use their free time to check e-mail in the library aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on Feb. 24, 2007. The military is looking into why many Navy and Marine bases have completely blocked access to WND.com
A Marine who contacted WND recently had reported watching the circumstances for some time before alerting the news site. And he suggested an unwelcome implication.
“[I] have observed a blatant censorship of the conservative right over government Internet,” the Marine, who requested anonymity, said. “Initially, my tendency was to think that this was not really the case, but it has recently become clear that it is.”
He said a wide range of other news sites were available, but not WND. “I … found this odd, since it is still possible, although illegal, to view pornography over the Internet. I know this to be the case, because there are Marines who occasionally are caught doing just that. All these things are fine, but not WorldNetDaily!”
Joseph Farah, founder of WND, said he doubted the block was the result of political activism, but one could never be sure until the investigation is complete.
“I don’t want to make accusations or cast aspersions on anyone associated with the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marines, two great military institutions I revere,” he said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation. It has seriously hurt WND’s ability to grow and compete. But as long as this situation is resolved quickly and doesn’t occur again, I’m sure we at WND will simply be grateful the error was corrected. We are just looking forward to rebuilding our once substantial audience among sailors and Marines.”
WND, a fiercely independent news site, was launched 10 years ago by Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, and for more than 100 weeks in a row was listed as the No. 1 most popular website in the world by Global 100.
Just within the last few weeks, Internet audience ratings service comScore Media Metrix said WND’s traffic growth was No. 1 among all political news sources and No. 2 among all sites related to politics in any way. Only Capitol Advantage, whose mission is to use technology to broaden participation and debate across the political spectrum, had higher growth.
WND’s traffic increased 54 percent in January, according to the report, while Capitol Advantage increased readership by 74 percent. Moveon.org, the pro-Democrat activist site founded by George Soros, was third with 23 percent growth, according to comScore Media Metrix. The report said WND attracted more visitors in the month than the websites of any of the presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.
The Marine reported to WND that he also “found that teamtancredo.org, the website dedicated to [U.S. Rep. Tom] Tancredo’s exploratory presidential bid, was in fact ‘forbidden.’”
“This is extremely inconsistent, due to the fact that Hillary Clinton’s site is not, nor is anyone else’s who is running for president,” he said.
Ovalle told WND that it’s possible that it is nothing more than a technical problem, where there would be an issue of software compatability, but that wouldn’t appear likely since Air Force and Army bases have access to WND’s exclusive reports.
She did confirm that it is a Marine detachment at Quantico that tells the contractor actually running the Internet network across Navy and Marine bases which sites should be blocked.
But she said unplanned blocking can happen, even if a website is “good to go,” because of “scanning software” that a vendor may have attached to the site.
WND has also been consistently ranked by several major Internet ratings agencies as the “stickiest” news site on the Internet – meaning readers average more time on it than any other.
By WND’s own traffic counts, the site attracts about 6 million “unique visitors” (meaning different people) every month. It attracts between 50 million and 60 million pageviews per month.
WND also was the first content site on the Internet to begin a book-publishing imprint, WND Books, that has revolutionized the publishing industry in many ways. WND was the first Internet content site to launch a daily, nationally syndicated radio show, “Farah Live,” based on that content. And WND was the first content site on the Net to launch columnists into weekly syndication, including David Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Joseph Farah.
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