UPDATE July 18, 2008: Google Alerts once again included an AFRICOM related post from Crossed Crocodiles on July 17, 2008. I hope this signals a change and we’ll see more from Crossed Crocodiles in the Google Alerts on AFRICOM. I’ll report on what I observe.

Starting in late February or in March, Crossed Crocodiles disappeared from Google Alerts on AFRICOM.

I posted the following at crossedcrocodiles.blogspot.com, but thought I would duplicate it here. Since I seem to be experiencing some censorship on Google’s Blogspot, I thought I’d see what happens if I post here.

From February 2007 through sometime in February or March 2008 the Google Alerts on AFRICOM included ALL Crossed Crocodiles articles on AFRICOM. Since some time in late February or in March 2008 NONE of Crossed Crocodiles stories on AFRICOM have been included in the Google Alerts. It was an abrupt change. First they were there, now they are not. That looks like censorship to me.

For awhile I thought they were just overlooking some posts, that Google was not as efficient as it would have us believe. But the stark contrast of all posts being included suddenly switching to none being included tells me the change is deliberate. This blog is not a large blog, but it has reported on AFRICOM longer and more consistantly than any other blog I know of. I use a number of Google Alerts to get news. Mostly I set the alerts for comprehensive, so I get notices of blog posts, as well as news articles.

Crossed Crocodiles began publishing posts on AFRICOM in February 2007, when the command was announced, and has been following its progress since then. For the first year of this coverage, February 2007 into February 2008, every blog post I wrote on AFRICOM was included in the comprehensive Google Alerts, News Alerts News Alerts, on AFRICOM. Sometime in February this year, 2008, there was a flurry of attention to Crossed Crocodiles blog from .mil sites. I get fairly regular hits from the US military and the contractors. They are more than welcome and I hope they learn something positive for the citizens of the US and the citizens of African countries when they visit. So I didn’t think too much about it. Then this blog got a visit from Google itself, google.com in Mountain View California, the first such visit to this blog to my knowledge. But I didn’t think about it much or record the details. Soon after that, in late February or early March, Crossed Crocodiles posts on AFRICOM disappeared from the Google Alerts on AFRICOM.

It is not as if there are so many blog and news stories on AFRICOM that it would be difficult for Google comprehensive Alerts to be comprehensive on the subject. The AFRICOM Alerts do not even come every day, and mostly there are very few stories listed when they do arrive, sometimes only one.

More recently I set up a comprehensive Google Alert on the International Peace Operations Association, the IPOA, the trade association of the PMCs, private military corporations. I have recently written two posts, dealing with the IPOA. Neither post was picked up by the Google Alert on the International Peace Operations Association, although a couple of posts on other blogs that linked back to the two posts on Crossed Crocodiles did get listed in the Google Alerts on the IPOA. That made me wonder if Crossed Crocodiles is being censored from the Google Alerts on the IPOA as well.
And who knows what other subjects covered here, or on other blogs, may be censored from Google Alerts? If you subscribe to Google Alerts you may not be getting the most relevant results and information you need on your topic, especially if someone regards it as a politically sensitive topic. I will still subscribe, but I’m not relying on them to keep me informed.

So far, Crossed Crocodiles posts do turn up in Google Searches. Although if you want to be sure of getting the most relevant hits, I’d use more than one search engine. Ask.com has a Blog Search, and you can try Bloglines. There are a number of possibilities.

As I said in a previous post, I write about AFRICOM because I am old enough that I observed the post independence western interference, and the rivalries and proxy wars of the cold war in Africa, when the US and Russia poured “military assistance” onto the continent, and the death and devastation that created. Friends and I used to joke about applying to Reagan and Bush 1 for military assistance to help us in our petty arguments with each other. It appeared all you needed to get military assistance was to call your enemy a Communist (now call them a Terrorist.) AFRICOM seems designed to make it all happen again, only this time it could cause infinitely more suffering. This time it is driven far more by greed for oil than ideology. I decided this time I would record what I see, what I learn, and what I think, hence the focus on AFRICOM in this blog.
Here are a couple of posts that have received a lot of attention from .mil sites and the contractors:

AFRICOM, US military bases, and Ghana

US State Department recruiting mercenaries to work in Africa

You can read my article on mercenaries in Africa over at the African Loft: The Rising Mercenary Industry and AFRICOM.