Army punishes soldier for blog posts
Leonard Clark, a 40-year-old Arizona National Guardsman who is currently on active duty in Baghdad, dropped from the rank of specialist to private first class on July 19 and must pay the Army a fine of $820 per month for two months, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.
Flora Lee, a spokesperson at the military's Combined Press Information Center in Iraq, confirmed that an investigation is under way but declined to provide further details on the case.
Clark was charged with violating two articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibit soldiers from releasing or "encouraging widespread publication" of classified or specific information about troop movement and location, soldiers who have been attacked or hit, and military strategy, the statement said.
The military has not specified which portions of Clark's blog broke the rules and did not respond to requests for clarification Tuesday about its policy on blogs maintained by personnel.
Word of the soldier's situation has been traversing the blogosphere for weeks. One post at the liberal blog DailyKos lamented Clark's situation and compared selected quotes from Clark's old e-mails about the war in Baghdad with accounts in the mainstream media.
Clark's own site, which describes him as a kindergarten teacher and former Democratic candidate for Arizona governor, is now devoid of content, save for a couple of links to recent media coverage about his plight and a message posted Tuesday by someone identified as a "site admin," which attributes the blogger's recent silence to a gag order.
"He has been asked not to comment, and is doing so," the post said. "Please understand that he is worried about folks back at home smearing his name. When he is done with active duty, the story (from his side) will come out."