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Censorship The Military

US Military 'Banned' From Viewing Wikileaks 390

Posted by kdawson
from the do-you-want-these-guys-protecting-cyberspace dept.
Following up on its risible demand that Wikileaks return the Afghanistan documents, the Pentagon has banned military members from viewing the documents. The Washington Times obtained copies of Navy and Marine Corps messages to their troops saying that accessing the documents even from a personal computer is "willingly committing a security violation." Wired notes that terrorists everywhere are under no such restriction. Reader carp3_noct3m writes "I am personally left almost speechless at this disconnect from reality demonstrated by the military. I am a USMC Iraq war vet, and find these policies completely ridiculous. They show the inability of our supposedly technologically knowledgeable military to fuse this knowledge with policy, mostly due to the political pressure that has erupted to 'take care of' the Wikileaks problem."
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US Military 'Banned' From Viewing Wikileaks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:38PM (#33167912)

    If the material is currently classified, wouldn't it be against the UCMJ or other military policies to view such material?

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:39PM (#33167936)
      Well, there's classified information that very few people have seen, and then there's classified information that several billion people have (potentially) seen, and that your battlefield enemies have very likely studied in some detail.
      • by Artifakt (700173) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:53PM (#33168162)

        More to the point, once the compromise is massively widespread and definitely already in the hands of enemy forces, there is no way our own people seeing it will result in further compromise to the enemy, so the only effect left for non-enemy personnel is the possible negative morale effect. Even if the law technically supports it, isn't worrying so quickly about the possible morale implications from an inconvenient set of facts, a sign that the administration is refusing to face up to much more primary implications of those facts. I know that when, for just one example, when it was first learned secrets being compromised may have helped the USSR develop its own nuclear weapons program, the joint chiefs and Dept. of Defense didn't focus on how that news would dampen the morale of US troops, but on the strategic and tactical implications for the whole free world.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:22PM (#33168616) Homepage Journal

          there is no way our own people seeing it will result in further compromise to the enemy

          Let's be honest. The reason the military doesn't want their own people to see the wikileaks documents is because it doesn't want them to realize what a complete farce this war (and by extension the war in Iraq) is. They're probably worried that there would be a big drop in morale if the service people on the front line knew that they had been sent to war by an administration that just didn't care about success, as long as their friends at Haliburton and KBR got fat contracts.

          The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan never had a thing to do with terrorism or 9/11 or national security. That's ultimately the secret our military doesn't want getting out.

          When we have to keep our own forces from learning what the rest of the world can easily learn, we no longer have any claim on being a moral nation, or a force for good in the world, or some "shining city on the hill" spreading freedom throughout the world. The corporatists and rich elitists and Right-Wing ideologues that have run our government since at least 1980 are so cynical that they'd let young men and women and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die just to protect their own profits and power while complaining that anyone who would seek to end these useless and meaningless conflicts is "an appeaser" or "un-American".

          • by severoon (536737) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:44PM (#33168882) Journal

            Let's be honest. The reason the military doesn't want their own people to see the wikileaks documents is because it doesn't want them to realize what a complete farce this war (and by extension the war in Iraq) is.

            Sorry, but this theory of yours is ridiculous.

            If the military can achieve preventing anyone within its ranks from seeing the documents, then it will be just like they were never leaked in the first place. The scientific experiement is so simple to conduct you can even use a baby in place of the military industrial complex, as follows:

            • show toy to baby
            • note reaction (baby notices presence of toy, reaches for it, goes "goo" perhaps)
            • place toy behind cardboard (make sure the cardboard you use doesn't interest baby)
            • note reaction (baby ceases to recognize toy is still present)

            For that baby, the wikileaks isn't just out of view, it ceases to exist! This has been proven over and over again. If you don't find this experiment convincing and you're willing to take the time and effort, redo it but this time make sure "Firewall" or something computery is written on the cardboard this time, you'll get the exact same result. (Don't use glitter as that will attract baby and it will be hard to "separate evidence" as science-like people term it.)

            So we should make a law that puts the leaked information behind a piece of uninteresting cardboard, problem solved. I said, PROBLEM SOLVED. NEXT PROBLEM, PLEASE! as this one is solved

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by EkriirkE (1075937)
              Except in this case the toy is still irresistibly glimmering in reach and view of the baby, but you are yelling at/threatening the baby not to touch it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by phantomfive (622387)
            What are you talking about, what have you really learned from the documents that you didn't already know from other sources? I'd love to see where in the documents it says, 'the Bush administration didn't care about success as long as Haliburton got fat contracts' like you suggest because that would be real news. As far as I can tell, Bush actually believed all that stuff he was spouting about democracy and such. He thought the Iraq administration was evil, should have been shut down the first time, and
          • by microbox (704317) on Friday August 06, 2010 @06:23PM (#33169954)
            we no longer have any claim on being a moral nation

            Haha! If facts would have stopped that particular US canard, then they would have stopped preaching about their moral superiority long ago.

            Never underestimate the power of delusion.
        • by blair1q (305137) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:37PM (#33168798) Journal

          No. Here's the latest executive order:

          http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13526 [wikisource.org]

          And I'm not sure that was ever true. Even if it is made public, it has to be declassified under proper authority to legally be declassified. And if it still has valid security implications, it can remain classified. Which means certain people can't legally discuss it, much less process it on their non-classified machinery, while others will openly discuss it. The idea being at the least that discussing one secret can lead to exposure of another, and mixing secrets and non-secrets in improper ways can confuse what is and isn't secret.

          There are a number of issues of invalid classification that were raised in wikileaks' self-justification for publishing this information that should legally force the authorities to declassify those particular items; but clearly that does not apply to the entirety of what they released, and certainly not to the un-analyzed, un-redacted form in which they were released. Leaving in the names of people who are still in danger is a clear violation of law even when properly declassifying information.

          At any rate, none of this information has been declassified by the proper authority, so all of it is still legally considered classified, and anyone accessing it is liable to be charged with a crime.

          The only unsettled issue here is the scope of the release. It's not merely a few copies of documents that need to be collected and secured, and a few civilians to brief and warn about further disclosure. It's potentially millions of unauthorized computers infected that legally may be seized, an entire society led to misunderstand the role and importance of secrets, and our security apparatus put in a position of looking like fools for trying to follow the law and maybe save a few lives out of the dozens or hundreds that the insecurity apparatus put in danger.

          Which brings up the simple question of moral relativism. This started with a few people being killed in a form of collateral damage, and may end up with hundreds being killed in retribution murders. People talk about who has blood on their hands. Well, we all do, in the end, but for some of us the blood comes with moral authority and a lack of criminal guilt.

          • When talking of the actions of government, using the word 'criminal' is quite problematic. Governments are the entities that have the power to classify some actions as 'criminal' and some not. Whenever I see someone use that word to condemn someone's actions with regards to a government, I see someone using a circular self-justification. "It's wrong because the government said it's wrong!"

            Personally, I place a lot more stock in arguments grounded in something anybody can judge for themselves without reliance on an authority. After all, the whole reason we have a system of law is the hope that public laws which anybody might judge will end up being more moral than the arbitrary dictates of an authority like a king.

            Additionally, classified secrets are much like trade secrets. Once the cat is out of the bag, they are no longer considered secrets. So I believe your interpretation of the law is in error as well.

            So basically, your argument boils down to "It's wrong because I think it's wrong!", not even "It's wrong because the government said it's wrong!".

            Lastly, I think your balance between collateral damage to civilians vs. damage to civilians from retaliatory murder is a little off. I suspect the number of civilian casualties numbers in the thousands or 10s of thousands at a minimum. So if you wish a numerical calculus of death, then clearly the civilian casualties as 'collateral damage' form a much greater number and more moral culpability.

          • Let me clarify some things. While I do not believe anyone is questioning the letter of the law in regards to such matters ;as all the documents I have seen are focused at warning those who hold S or above clearance not to access the documents, and those people have a responsibility to safeguard matters regarding national security; the issue seems to be about the public and the non clearance holding military who should, as citizens, have equal access to information that is public already. The threatening of non-clearance holding military is part of the key to this issue. What is the risk? The information is in the public domain, the enemy has it, everyone has it, there is no getting it "back". Regarding the documents themselves, they actually do not reveal anything that those of us informed on the issues didn't already know about, (which basically boils down to, yes, were funding the Pakis, who fund ISI who funds our enemies, that we pay money to warlords for convoy security while preaching about no tolerance to the Karzai government, that the war was and continues to go badly and that Pakistan is more of a problem than a help due to the sensitivity of its national security aka it's nukes) I have analyzed some of the documents, and have not managed to find one yet that contained a name. I know that the 10-15k documents withheld were kept because of Wikileaks clear intent on trying to sanitize the information. Wikileaks also contacted, through a third party, the White house and offered for them to sanitize it, who then of course would rather not take the hit to pride than see any deaths occur, at least that way they can demonize Wikileaks, right? As far as moral relativism goes, I will flatly call the bullshit card. To conjure this idea up that "truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons" which translated in this context you mean that "as long as we continue to think we are right in all we do, and no one questions the status quo, then we are right." is simply an exercise in misdirection and shows how ill informed you are. Let me tell you, on the battlefield, blood hardly ever comes without guilt (and when it does, it is disguised in cognitive dissonance) , and moral authority likes to sit at his desk in the rear, and is rarely seen. If American moral authority did show up, I think the first thing noticed would be the unneeded deaths of American's in wars that have no benefit to the people of either nation involved (other than the rich elite), wars that have ostensibly caused our nation to be less secure, wars that are the direct result of our interventionism in the 80's and elsewhere, and the lack of our foresight to learn histories lessons. And it is the Americans who cheer this war machine on without having the slightest clue what the reality of war is, those are them that are no different from the radical imams to me. Bottom line, Iraq and Afghanistan are literally not only unwinnable (barring decades and more of perseverance) but were and are indeed mismanaged, misunderstood, unnecessary, and even morally questionable.

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:01PM (#33168304)

        Well, there's classified information that very few people have seen, and then there's classified information that several billion people have (potentially) seen, and that your battlefield enemies have very likely studied in some detail.

        I keep picking up this implication that the US military is keeping valuable information from itself while it's enemies have access. I'm not sure if that is the intended implication. But if it is, I find it suspect. It seems to me that US soldiers who'd find tactical use of this material likely already had access to it (re: old news). Any tactical value to this information to be gathered from the leak is going to be gained by those who didn't have access; namely the US military's adversaries.

        Restrictions on the US military is about something else. I seriously doubt those restrictions would have any negative impact. Or at least, not the impact being implied here.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Any tactical value to this information to be gathered from the leak is going to be gained by those who didn't have access; namely the US military's adversaries.

          Namely the US Military's adversaries? That's crazy. How about the benefit to the lawmakers that are funding the war, the civilians that support the troops, and the troops that are risking their lives yet not being given real information about whether the effort is turning out to be worth anything?

          These aren't adversaries, they are the people that are in charge of moderating the increasingly private sector U.S. war machine through legislation & oversight, voting booths, and direct action (ie:leading an

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          It seems to me that US soldiers who'd find tactical use of this material likely already had access to it (re: old news). Any tactical value to this information to be gathered from the leak is going to be gained by those who didn't have access; namely the US military's adversaries.

          I can think of at least one example off the top of my head where that's not necessarily true:

          Knowing what information has been disclosed is of tactical advantage to the soldiers - for example, if all the brouhaha about informants' names being disclosed is true it will be useful to the people who deal with informants to know if their contacts have been outed or not. Because of the bureaucracy and politics regarding something this high-profile that information is unlikely to make it's way "through channels"

    • by cptdondo (59460) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:51PM (#33168150) Journal

      It's been a few years since my TS clearance went away, but ISTR that publication of a secret document immediately renders it declassified. In other words, once it's on wikileaks, it's not classified. Prohibiting someone from viewing it is just silly and I expect that the "security violation" charge would not stand up, even in military court.

      Howerever, I suspect this would be handled as an Article 15, "Conduct unbecoming", rather than a full courts-martial sort of thing.

      • It's a stupid order, but still a lawful order, so ignoring it would come up under Article 92--Failure to obey order or regulation.

      • by ptbarnett (159784) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:08PM (#33168382)

        It's been a few years since my TS clearance went away, but ISTR that publication of a secret document immediately renders it declassified.

        Unless they have changed the rules recently, this is incorrect.

        Classified information is not automatically declassified by public disclosure, accidental or otherwise.

        • by cptdondo (59460)

          OK, then it must be the other way around - once information has been publicly disclosed, it cannot be classified....

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gandhi_2 (1108023)

        Article 134 of the UCMJ covers anything. As in, even if it's not against the rules, what ever you did is against the rules. Also, Indecent Acts With a Public Animal (my favorite).

        Article 92 would be disobeying an order.

        Article 90 would be disobeying a superior commissioned officer.

    • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:52PM (#33168156) Homepage

      Yes, it would be against such policies. In fact, that is the exact rationale for instructing military members and associated civilian employees to avoid it.

      The military services (both service members and associated civilian agencies) all have a strict policy about accessing classified material. If you do so on an unclassified machine, it's called "spillage", and BY LONG-STANDING POLICY the machine MUST be disconnected from the network and carefully scrubbed of all traces.

      And if the access is intentional and made with full awareness of the law, that's punishable by all kinds of nasty penalties.

      And no, it doesn't matter that it already exists on thousands of other machines around the world. Until it's officially declassified, it's still classified, and rules and policies still apply.

      So this is NOT an attempt to muzzle the information - it's simply following long-standing rules and making sure everyone knows exactly what those rules are.

      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        Thank you for explaining that properly. Non-military people have a difficult enough time understanding military life without all the FUD about policies. As you states, it isn't a new policy, it is a clarification of a policy that existed for decades.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Viewing, especially from on-base IPs, provides Wikileaks with server log information about IP addresses, handing them more information to expose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Bingo. Just because information has been made public doesn't mean it's been de-classified. Anyone with a security clearance and anyone with a job anywhere near the DoD signed about a billion forms and went through a dozen trainings regarding how to respond to improperly handled classified forms. Step 1 is "delete/destroy any copies within reach", and Step 2 is "call the security folks". Anyone in the defense world in possession of classified documents they shouldn't have is in violation of employment ag
      • You got it backwards.

        Step 1 is call the security folks
        Step 2 is to disconnect everything
        Step 3 is to follow the security folk's instructions on how to destroy/remove everything.

        Why this order? Deleting/destroying the stuff could destroy any evidence on HOW the classified got where it was, who put it there, etc...

        Anyone in the defense world in possession of classified documents they shouldn't have is in violation of employment agreements and potentially laws.

        Depends on how they got it...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ivogan (678639)
      Rules they may be. IMO rules are not meant to be mindlessly followed without any independent, rational thought. I would much rather have servicemen and women regularly apply the bullshit test. Yes I do make a very poor candidate for rank-and-file "just do as I say" organizational structures.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by karlwilson (1124799)
      This is exactly what has stopped me from viewing the documents. Currently they are considered classified. And it's a huge breach of the USMC and my current security clearance (which is high enough to view these documents anyways) to have any copies of these documents on my personal computer or any other computer that isn't secure.
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      Depending on the classification level it could be treasonous for whomever leaked it.

      I think our government is missing something key here that has been put into use more than once by our government during wartime and even during peacetime. I fail to see how they can not see this as a source to spread disinformation to the enemy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Here's the deal.

      I've got a security clearance. Basically, this means that if there's a document that is Classified up to the level I have, I can not look at it. That's not a typo. The other portion to that is that I have to have a "need to know". I can't look at any document I feel like reading.

      So, if I a) am cleared to read it and b) I have a need to read it, I can read it. There are forms and tons of bullshit that go with reading a classified document. Part of that bullshit is a debriefing.

      If you're

    • I think the word you're looking for is "struthious".

  • I See No Problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:39PM (#33167924)

    The fact that the documents have been leaked did not immediately and magically change their status, thus they are still considered 'SECRET' by the military. Likely the military will eventually change this classification, but that won't happen overnight (there 90,000 freaking documents). Until that does happen, it's a security violation for a military member to access documents for which they are not cleared.

    • by sco08y (615665)

      The fact that the documents have been leaked did not immediately and magically change their status, thus they are still considered 'SECRET' by the military. Likely the military will eventually change this classification, but that won't happen overnight (there 90,000 freaking documents). Until that does happen, it's a security violation for a military member to access documents for which they are not cleared.

      First: yes, they damned well could change 90,000 overnight. We have these things called "computers" which can process large amounts of information for just that reason

      Second: no, they won't. The military treats classification like a magic spell, and there is a complicated ritual to declassify something, that basically involves sacrificing your first-born. I've had to shred stuff that was freely available on the Internet.

  • Tip of the iceberg? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IICV (652597) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:41PM (#33167958)

    Is the bit of fulmination we're seeing from outside the government a symptom of some serious pressure being applied within? I mean first it was Marc Thiessen calling for the United States Government to basically declare war against a person, and now this irrational command.

    I just can't help but wonder if these things aren't just signs of a lot of behind-the-scenes scurrying.

    • I'm just waiting for Wikileaks to do something to tick off Israel. They'll deal with Julian Assange the same way they dealt with Gerald Bull.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by copponex (13876)

        I'm just waiting for Wikileaks to do something to tick off Israel. They'll deal with Julian Assange the same way they dealt with Gerald Bull.

        I'm so glad you've seen the light of democracy and law shining equally for all men, and realized that sometimes we must extinguish that light to slit the throats of those who oppose us. But don't worry. After we're done slitting throats, we'll turn the light back on. We promise.

        Welcome back to the fold, Comrade!

        Sincerely,
        Joseph V. Stalin

    • by guspasho (941623)

      I just can't help but wonder if these things aren't just signs of a lot of behind-the-scenes scurrying.

      What else would they be?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:36PM (#33168780) Journal

      lot of behind-the-scenes scurrying.

      Like cockroaches when you flip the light switch.

  • ...that military security automatically scans their machines and networks for classified documents in the wrong locations, and that every time someone downloads the file set from Wikileaks it sets off a dozen alarms, and that's why they're banning the downloads.

  • What if they accidentally come across the documents on a coral cache or a tinyurl? Or simply look at the cached pages on Google?

  • Does anyone else think that
    • abuses such as torture and killing of civilians should be reported even if classified
    • strategic information should absolutely not be disclosed as it endangers NATO troops?

    ,
    Things have to be a little more subtle than "information wants to be free".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Some of the criticism of the wikileaks dump is that they did a lousy job redacting anything about Afghan civilians who helped the US military and may now be targets of Taliban retaliation. Here: [wsj.com]

      The Times of London noted, "In just two hours of searching the WikiLeaks archive, The Times found the names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing detailed intelligence to U.S. forces. Their villages are given for identification and also, in many cases, their fathers' names." In some cases, their precise GPS l

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:48PM (#33168088) Journal
    This was already restricted information. The rank and file had no right to it and presumably there are laws that state they should not access it.

    The laws are still in effect and even if there's no intention to prosecute, they should be reminding soldiers of their duty to obey the law if there is a rumour going around that this does not apply.
  • Authenticity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fractal Dice (696349) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:48PM (#33168104) Journal
    Aside from the security classification not having officially changed, you also don't want your troops getting into the habit of taking "leaks" off the Internet at face value. It may not be relevant to these documents, but there will come a day when deliberately altered documents are released (by friend or foe) as part of a propaganda campaign. Best to remind people not tasked with doing the analysis to stay away from the koolaid.
    • You've got a very important point in there. The Military is not burying their heads in the sand and pretending that if they can't see the leaks then they never happened. They have teams of people focused on reviewing these documents and determining how damaging their release is. All the Military is doing is telling is members that are not Analysts to forget about the leaks and mind their own business. It's damage control.
  • It's all CYA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:50PM (#33168124) Homepage Journal

    No, it doesn't make much sense. But there's very little of the genius cloak 'n' dagger stuff going on in the military these days compared to, say, back in WWII when we were trying to hide from the Axis that we had in fact broke their encryption.

    Classified information is mostly just administrative nowadays... maybe more like a way to dish out "job security clearances" for work that only American citizens can perform so it won't be outsourced. For example, there are plenty of vehicle performance parameters listed in the Jane's guides. If that information comes from a cleared person, it's classified. But if the exact same information comes from an open access source, it's not. But even if data is out in the public, a cleared person is not able to confirm or deny that the public information matches the classified information.

    So it's probably this kind of thinking that is driving the DoD to react this way. Like the BP oil spill, this set of leaks is being treated more like a PR disaster than a natural / national security disaster. So if the soldiers who were actually involved in any of the operations are not allowed to view the leaked documents, the press theoretically could not get any of those soldiers to confirm or deny their accuracy and authenticity. Probably the most boring form of administrative INFOOPS measures possible. But the military has entire divisions dedicated to winning the "war for hearts and minds" nowadays.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:51PM (#33168146) Homepage

    Here's the thing, guys.

    If you knew how military officers work, it goes like this: Something is wrong, they do *SOMETHING*. It doesn't matter what it is, they just have to be seen doing something.

    Some news organizations say the military isn't accepting PTSD? Fine, every returning troop is basically TOLD they have PTSD. The VA sells it to you. The military psychs try to talk you into it. They make videos, brochures, send people out to spread the word, loud and clear: It's okay to admin you have PTSD (even if you don't)!

    The military ALWAYS has an answer. Parachuting into powerlines? Wigle your body front to back in cadence to the song "Wire Wire Wire". Does it work? Who knows...but they had to have an answer in case someone asks.

    A few people kill themselves? Oh jeezus...double the Suicide Prevention briefs. More powerpoints. More online classes. More assessments and dollars spent! Does it help? Who knows...if it doesn't then we will double it again! We'll keep them in suicide classes 24/7 just to keep an eye on them!

    So someone is mad about wikileaks? A general gets an email, and before you know it...here we are.

    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:06PM (#33168368) Journal

      If you knew how military officers work, it goes like this: Something is wrong, they do *SOMETHING*.

      I was never an officer, just a senior noncom. And a technical one, to boot. As an enlisted tech, the general attitude is "get it as right as you can in the time you have, and if time isn't an object get it completely right." It took me a while to grok that the basic rule of officer leadership is "It's better to be decisive than right."

      More powerpoints.

      If you ask me, that's the problem. It definitely appeals to the "decision now" mindset by reducing the situation to bullet points (the management equivalent to sound bites). But a leader should be more situationally aware than can be instilled with PowerPoint. Snap decisions based on real on-the-ground knowledge has a significantly greater chance of being right than snap decisions based on bullet papers.

  • The likely concern the government has with this publicly-available classified information is the chance that someone with legitimate access to related information might download and (perhaps unintentionally) combine it with unclassified information. That act causes the all that data to become classified... thus causing an information "spillage" on many unclassified systems. Cleaning up classified information spillages is very expensive for the government... even minor ones.

    Thus the main idea here is to stop

  • The military is getting this right, legally.

    "There has been rumor that the information is no longer classified since it resides in the public domain. This is NOT true." - the US Navy.

    Their position is that the material is classified, and processing classified material on non-approved equipment is a crime.

    They aren't taking the fallacious position that "everyone's doing it" eliminates the criminal responsibility.

    So, yes, I'm saying that anyone who's downloaded those documents has, in fact, committed a crime.

  • The message from the linked Washington Times article does not ban military personnel from visiting WikiLeaks - it only appears to remind them that downloading classified material on/through public networks is against the rules, and attempts to put to rest the idea that just because a classified document has become publicly available does not automatically change the status.

    There is the question of whether the rules make sense, but the only purpose of the messages appears to be to clarify what the rules actu

  • Dear Service member,

    It has recently been brought to our attention that the television has been used to distribute various information still considered classified by the US government.

    As a result, all members of the armed forces are hereby unformed that viewing the tele is strictly forbidden.

    Violators of this policy will be flogged.

    By the Order Of,

    General Karmahoer

  • by sco08y (615665) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:13PM (#33168458)

    I am personally left almost speechless at this disconnect from reality demonstrated by the military. I am a USMC Iraq war vet, and find these policies completely ridiculous.

    Maybe I'm a little more jaded from my time in the Army, but I don't find this terribly surprising. I might have a little perspective I can offer.

    If you're in a combat unit, especially deployed, you're facing the reality of actual people backed by a large network or foreign government trying to kill you. Bullshit has a short half-life in such a situation.

    Unfortunately, the further removed you are from the hard rain, the less intrusion you have from reality. The sergeant doing paperwork just can't say, "fuck you sir, this could get someone killed!"

    And the higher echelons have, much like corporate culture, a certain unreality built in. I've seen how it starts with a first sergeant, who is responsible for a company of troops. He knows he has to lead by example, so he forces himself to always appear motivated, even when it's socially inappropriate. Senior officers sometimes appear to be squarely in the uncanny valley.

    Add to that the telephone game played by the insane rank structure. A senior officer puts out his intent, and it is then passed along from subordinate to subordinate, with each re-interpreting it every step of the way. Who knows where this originated, and how much it's changed along the way?

  • When something is classified and you aren't supposed to view it, then you're not supposed to view it. Something doesn't become declassified because some idiots stole it and some other idiots published it. You say you are war veteran but since you don't seem to comprehend this simple fact you know and don't understand about Security clearances and the purpose of classified documents you know, your speechlessness is understandable. Crimes were committed to acquire these documents, people will go to jail for
  • Remember when the Cult of Scientology banned its members from viewing critical content or leaked documents, and even distributed a sort of parental-guidance web censor? Can't find the source at the moment, but it was probably around 2008.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:27PM (#33168668) Homepage

    Keep in mind, we're talking about an organization that still considers some strategic documents from WWI to be classified. My God, can you imagine the damage if Germany finds how many Sopwith Camels we had in air worthy condition in 1917?

  • by david.emery (127135) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:29PM (#33168710)

    Tom Clancy tells the story about security review of "Hunt for Red October" (published by Naval Institute Press, they routinely send stuff to the Navy just to be sure.) The review came back, "Can't publish, contains classified information." "Well tell me what that is, I'll remove it, and we'll be good to go." "No, sir. You don't have the clearance for that information."

    After a couple back-and-forth, apparently Clancy went over his book, line-by-line, justifying everything in there as derived from open source (in the Intel sense, i.e. freely available from the press, unclassified technical reports, etc.). Eventually the Navy had to admit that, if there was something classified in there, it was derived from stuff that anyone could read and deduce on his/her own.

    Yossarian is alive and well, it appears... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22)

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday August 06, 2010 @04:59PM (#33169070)

    From an OpSec perspective having a bunch of accesses to specific documents on the wikileaks server is a BAD IDEA. Anyone with access to the logs on the server will be able to correlate the IP addresses doing the accessing with the specific documents of interest. With 75,000+ documents, there are sure to be some really interesting needles in that haystack. The people most qualified to recognize those needles will be military personnel - so one guy finds something "surprising" related to his personal work and forwards the URL to all his buddies who also check it out because its "surprising" to them too and now wikileak's logs have a great big arrow pointing at the document that got an order of magnitude more hits than all the others. Someone decides to investigate and now whatever made that document "surprising" is well known to public and "the enemy" too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cpghost (719344)
      I have to agree here. Traffic analysis [wikipedia.org] IS a source for concern for the DoD. It may sound silly because the accessed information is out there in the open, but it isn't silly: the access pattern is NEW information, and this shouldn't be leaked. Of course, DoD could always make those documents available on their internal network (it's their own, after all!) to their employees, if they wished.
  • it's everywhere (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bugi (8479) on Friday August 06, 2010 @05:26PM (#33169370)

    Be careful not to read a newspaper. You might get exposed to some classified information. You might accidentally commit treason. You know those journalists. They investigate; they report; they cause all sorts of trouble.

  • by Quila (201335) on Friday August 06, 2010 @07:06PM (#33170298)

    Which most military do, you agree to abide by the rules of material classification including clearance level and need to know.

    This means that even if you have a Top Secret clearance, you are not allowed to view Secret-classified material to which you do not have an official "need to know."

    Anybody with a clearance who does not have a need to know what is in the Wikileaks documents, yet obtains and reads those documents, is committing a security violation.

    Very logical. Very simple.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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