Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Readers of WorldNetDaily have confirmed that the filters for all U.S. Marine and U.S. Navy computers started blocking the leading independent news site at least 18 months ago, and they believe it’s unlikely that it is a simple technical glitch, because the addresses www.WND.com and www.WorldNetDaily.com, which lead to the same site, were blocked at different times.
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
WND had reported that the Internet site has been blocked for some period of time and military officials are launching an investigation in how – and why – that happened.
Among a flood of e-mails WND received yesterday on the issue was one from a man who identified himself as a contractor who has spent time working with the Navy, and used to be able to access the news location through the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.
“The first time I was unable to access WND from NMCI was about 18 months ago,” he wrote. “I was attempting to access using www.WorldNetDaily.com and was denied access. I then tried www.WND.com and was able to use that URL for about four months until it, too, was banned.
“When the WND.com URL was banned, I had good reason to believe that the WorldNetDaily.com had not been banned by accident. There was/is a deliberate attempt to ban WorldNetDaily,” he wrote. “As would be expected, I was a little upset.”
However, he wrote that as a contractor he was unable to do anything about it. “I … hope you are able to clear up this mess,” he said. He wasn’t identified by WND because of his position.
Marine officers in Quantico, Va., where the Internet services for both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy are managed, told WND for the initial report they are 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. “I don’t know how long it will take.” She could not be reached via e-mail or telephone for an update on the investigation yesterday.
Ovalle suggested there could be nothing more than a technical glitch involved and that unplanned blocking can happen through circumstances that do not involve the actual websites.
However, Joseph Farah, founder of WND, initially said he doubted the block was the result of political activism, even though one cannot be certain 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.”
Another reader, whose name also was withheld by WND, told the news site he has spent time working for Electronic Data Systems, the principal contractor running NMCI for the Navy and Marine bases.
He wrote that he realized some time ago he was unable to reach WND.
“There are many times in our network when outside issues prevent us from reaching sites. Therefore I was not overly concerned initially; but after a week or so of attempting to reach the website I determined that it must have been purposefully blocked,” he said.
He noted that an admiral gave orders for Yahoo news to be unblocked about that time. “I thought it was terribly odd that Yahoo could be unblocked but not WorldNetDaily.”
Others wrote to say the blockage might not be intentional. Dennis Haggerty reported his antivirus program alerts him on occasion while reading WND, even though WND doesn’t use popup ads. “Maybe the Navy’s security software is picking up the same thing and causing the site to be blocked,” he suggested.
Yet another reader reported that his “ridiculously restrictive service at Fort Sill” bans his access to WND. “This story did not shock me. There is always a minority of malcontents even in the military that are the antithesis of what we stand for: God, country, family.”
“A technical problem? I doubt it,” said another.
A retired Marine and now civil servant working at Camp Pendleton said he’d noticed the same restriction that a Marine earlier had notified WND about. “I just assumed that NMCI inadvertently filtered it out … I’m glad to see you’re looking into this and hope it all gets squared away soon,” he said.
Another had a theory that ranged even further afield. “I bet [U.S. House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s office or someone else in Congress got some schmuck who works with the military’s computers to do this.”
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.
The majority are from “army.mil” and “af.mil” sources, with a few from “pentagon.mil” and “centcom.mil.”
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
One Marine from Camp Pendleton who had contacted WND recently had reported watching the circumstances for some time before alerting the news site. And he was the first to suggest 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!”
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.
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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