BOING BOING -- For several weeks, I've read reports of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordering a ban on camera phones and other mobile imaging devices in US army installations in Iraq. I cannot get confirmation from anybody in the field. Lt Smash doesn't corroborate the piece. The story broke in Britain's "The Business" newspaper, and has since been cited in numerous online news reports, including UPI and AFP. However, this could be a regurgitation of a weeks-old snippet of a trial balloon that never was implemented as DoD policy. The US Department of Defense is well-versed in flying kites. Nonetheless, a camerphone ban is consistent with other clampdowns, such as the widespread press restrictions imposed by military authorities in Iraq.
Quoting a Pentagon source, The Business said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones. "Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sounded like he was blaming technology for letting the Abu Ghraib scandal spin out of Pentagon control when he testified recently before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We are constantly finding that we have procedures and habits that have evolved over the years from the last century that don't really fit the 21st century. They don't fit the Information Age. They don't fit a time when people are running around with digital cameras."
On the Chicago Tribune's editorial page, Clarence Page writes, "If I had my way, every enlisted man and woman in the military would be issued a digital camera. As we've seen in the scandal about abused Iraqi prisoners, the little gadgets help boost morale by providing snapshots that can be e-mailed back home. They also can come in handy when you need to gather evidence. I like those little cameras because certain power elites don't. "
Xeni Jardin -- "Rumsfeld bans camera phones in Iraq; digicams and truth in wartime"
Clarence Page -- "Weapons of Mass Photography"
Dearbhaile Hanley -- "In our rush to leave we barely got a chance to say goodbye"
Joi Ito -- interesting comments