Some time in the last 24 hours, MoveOn.org has eliminated all traces of its infamous ad slamming Gen. David Petraeus as “General Betray-Us”. The cover-up is probably in response to President Obama’s selection of Petraeus as the new head of his signature national security campaign in Afghanistan. But the cover-up also raises disturbing questions about MoveOn.org and its supporters. How can a group supposedly dedicated to holding government accountable so obviously seek to avoid any accountability for its own excesses?
The cover-up also highlights one of the biggest problems with the internet. More and more news stories and analyses are published on the internet, sometimes exclusively. Yet the possibility that those articles can be edited or even scrubbed entirely makes them unreliable for citations to be used by others. Scholars, both professional and amateur, have to be suspicious about internet citations because of the way the medium is so forgiving of the dishonest as well as the merely incoherent.
Both those interested in political accountability and those interested in building the internet as a usable tool for accessible research and information should demand that MoveOn.org be held accountable for their clumsy and self-serving attempt to edit history. And those who have supported MoveOn.org should ask themselves whether this is really the kind of group they want in the lead of their political movements.