Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Military 'Banned' From Viewing Wikileaks

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the do-you-want-these-guys-protecting-cyberspace dept.

Censorship 390

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."

cancel ×

390 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167912)

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

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (4, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (4, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 4 years ago | (#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:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (2, Insightful)

ushering05401 (1086795) | about 4 years ago | (#33168564)

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 and serving with honor). If the public reactions are to be believed these are also people that were not already in possession of these materials.

The military gets secrecy only until it threatens the future of our country.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (4, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | about 4 years ago | (#33168150)

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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | about 4 years ago | (#33168354)

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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168380)

I think you are mistaken.

I remember being told that no matter where the information was, I wasn't allowed to talk about it. There is an official procedure to declassify classified data. Until that happens, odd though it may be if data has been "leaked", the info is still classified.

Posting anon, as, probably, you should have.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (4, Informative)

ptbarnett (159784) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (1)

cptdondo (59460) | about 4 years ago | (#33168428)

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

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (2, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#33168408)

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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (5, Informative)

Goldenhawk (242867) | about 4 years ago | (#33168156)

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.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 4 years ago | (#33168176)

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

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (2, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 4 years ago | (#33168290)

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 agreements and potentially laws.

Got it backwards... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 years ago | (#33168482)

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:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168306)

Can it still be considered Classified if it is now in the public domain, legalities of dissimination aside? (not a Copyright reference)

Let me guess. Information is only declassified by some government procedure involving covert agencies. Sorry, but the game has changed and our intelligence agencies, and government are losing on this one. Might as well pack it in cause the only recourse for them is to outright stifle free speech, and lock down the Internet.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 4 years ago | (#33168498)

Your guess is wrong. Most classified information is AUTOMATICALLY declassified after a certain amount of years (10, I think), unless it gets an exemption (which isn't easy to do). To declassify something before that time, the President can do it, or any of the appointed classification authorities. You may think they are "covert" but I knew many people with classification authority that were in as low of ranks as E-6. And by definition, handling classified material requires "covert" agencies....duh.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168432)

Ok, here is a relevant picture:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_g7KcbMxmLEU/RndqH0zamZI/AAAAAAAAA9o/i7mWwaYS9CM/s400/Ostrich_sand.jpg

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (2, Interesting)

ivogan (678639) | about 4 years ago | (#33168472)

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:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (0, Troll)

frist (1441971) | about 4 years ago | (#33168514)

Yes it is. Anyone who works with classified material knows this. Just because someone else "leaks" the documents does not change their classification, and viewing them is still a security violation if the viewer does not have the appropriate clearance and a need to know. The reminder to servicemen is appropriate. As usual, the slashdot crowd is clueless yet feels free to mock and ridicule.

Re:Wouldn't it be against the rules anyways? (2, Interesting)

karlwilson (1124799) | about 4 years ago | (#33168526)

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.

Afraid of the truth (1, Flamebait)

jrouleau (1829808) | about 4 years ago | (#33167918)

seems the military might be afraid what i s leaked me thinks....

I See No Problem (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:I See No Problem (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 4 years ago | (#33168090)

But is it okay for a member of the military to contract out for "reading services" from a civilian? For example, if a completely hypothetical slashdot poster were to offer - again, completely hypothetical - services in which pages of material are read out over the telephone at a hypothetical rate of $10/page, would that still technically be a breach of the order not to "read" the material? That's just a telephone conversation right? It's not like a person can really control what the other person is saying during a conversation.

An intriguing question, no? And one that I'd be more than happy to discuss in further detail via email at secret_document_proofreading@gmail.com

Re:I See No Problem (1)

dan828 (753380) | about 4 years ago | (#33168340)

All and all, that'd be worse, because said military member is engaging in behavior that is, firstly, a violation of a clear order, and secondly, designed to conceal his activity from his superiors. The subterfuge would cause more severe charges to be brought should he be caught.

Re:I See No Problem (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168392)

Not intriguing at all. Service members are restricted in accessing classified materials in two ways. One is there clearance level (ie - secret, top secret) and the second is "need to know". Having a top secret clearance does not authorize you to view all top secret material - just that top secret material that is relevant to your job. In addition, there is no specific contract about "reading" classified material. The word most commonly used is "access". Even if papers were signed specifically forbidding reading, the UCMJ is flexible in dealing with people who abuse loopholes.

Re:I See No Problem (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#33168466)

This sounds like the perfect torture. If you wanna to force some military to spill out some classified, sensitive information, the only thing you have to do it is....to read him a TOP SECRET document, LOL. Amazing, South Park? Where are you? Here is some good idea for your next episode (and i am expecting some cash back, please)

Re:I See No Problem (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | about 4 years ago | (#33168222)

Most (though not all) members of the military have at least a secret clearance. Though, technically if you put a classified document onto an unclassified computer (same applies to external hd's, thumbdrives, printers, etc), that computer is then itself classified. That is essentially what the Navy memo said. It's commonly referred to as a spill, as in classified information spills from a classified network to an unclassified network.

Security clearance is only half of it... (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 years ago | (#33168544)

The clearance is only half of it - you also have need to know.

I don't have any need to know for the documents on wikileaks. Most military types don't.

Re:I See No Problem (1)

sco08y (615665) | about 4 years ago | (#33168560)

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.

It's all about (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 4 years ago | (#33167928)

control.

Re:It's all about (1)

Torvac (691504) | about 4 years ago | (#33168060)

no its all about witchhunt.

Re:It's all about (3, Interesting)

LowlyWorm (966676) | about 4 years ago | (#33168420)

I disagree. Civilians can read what they choose. The military could stop it. They have the weapons to do so if they choose. They have not. In a very structured and disciplined environment such sacrifices are to be expected. The military has its own courts and no draft is in effect. I am normally very adamant about free speech issues and I have contributed to organizations that promote these views but the military should be granted some latitude.

More Knee-Jerk reaction (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 years ago | (#33168372)

It's been a few years, but at one point the major networks put up a document marked 'secret', something about a senator's aide sneaking out classified in his socks then claiming 'I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that'.

As a result, we blocked the major news networks for a few days - CNN, Fox, NBC, etc...

We've also had issues where we block the sites of hostile parties(or perceived hostile parties) such as the Taliban, Al Jazeera, etc...

It's mostly a Knee-jerk reaction among the higher ups.

Re:More Knee-Jerk reaction (1)

dan828 (753380) | about 4 years ago | (#33168474)

The way I see it, it's just a clarification of policy. Letting people that aren't familiar with security protocol that accessing still classified information on unsecured computers is illegal for people that come under the UCMJ. Without a doubt, the intelligence agencies of every enemy, friend, and ally are going through this stuff with a fine tooth comb. I think the guy that did this is going to be sharing a cell with John Walker for the rest of his days (the KGB agent, not the Taliban guy).

Re:It's all about (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | about 4 years ago | (#33168518)

It's all about blockin' teh intarwebz for great American justice! All Your WIkiLeaks Are Belong to US...A!

Morale issue perhaps? (1, Insightful)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | about 4 years ago | (#33167930)

I'm thinking the motive is to prevent damage to morale, but I can't see how the order is any less destructive on morale than the contents of these documents.

Re:Morale issue perhaps? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 4 years ago | (#33168062)

I'm thinking the motive is to prevent damage to morale, but I can't see how the order is any less destructive on morale than the contents of these documents.

Well, perhaps it is just a first attempt along the lines of "the beatings will continue until morale improves". Morale will only improve when they stop this sort of nonsense.

Re:Morale issue perhaps? (4, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about 4 years ago | (#33168138)

I think a response that would be less destructive would be to take reverse-course on the approach they're taking now. Best description I've seen from Julian Assange [democracynow.org] himself:

However, there are countries, Western countries, even countries in NATO, that are strongly supportive of what we do politically. And, for example, the UK has announced--UK Parliament has announced two inquiries into Afghanistan, one on the civilian casualties and the other on what is the exit strategy and how to get out of it. The Dutch government just formally announced its exit from Afghanistan. And other governments around the world involved in the ISAF coalition have, in bigger and small ways, announced that they are trying to do something about the revelations in this material.

And all of them are taking note of what the United States' attitude is, which is, instead of immediately saying these relevations are a serious concern, we never wanted to harm Afghan civilians or to bribe the media, as an example of one of the revelations in there, and we intend to launch an immediate investigation to understand this and compensate those people accordingly and change our procedures--that's what the rest of the world wants to hear. That's what Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan want to hear. But instead they heard a personal attack on me and on our organization and an announcement that they would be going after the whistleblower or whistleblowers involved in this. And now we see them living up to those words and stalking around Boston, spying and harassing MIT graduates, and trunking around the United Kingdom, where they raided Manning, the alleged whistleblower, for a video release called "Collateral Murder," in her home in Wales.

Re:Morale issue perhaps? (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | about 4 years ago | (#33168422)

And all of them are taking note of what the United States' attitude is, which is, instead of immediately saying these relevations are a serious concern, we never wanted to harm Afghan civilians or to bribe the media, as an example of one of the revelations in there, and we intend to launch an immediate investigation to understand this and compensate those people accordingly and change our procedures--that's what the rest of the world wants to hear. That's what Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan want to hear.

It wouldn't have helped the U.S. much if they did this. These documents aren't new information for any higher command in the military or our government, so them issuing an apology or investigation now would be equivalent to saying "we're only doing something about these deaths because we got caught, because everybody found out about it via wikileaks".

Re:Morale issue perhaps? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 4 years ago | (#33168174)

Documents be damned, I can't think of anything worse for morale than allowing/ordering incidents like these to continue by continuing the "war". Our soldiers all know these things happen, just as they happen in any war. Face it, the road to this war might have been paved with good intentions, but a war is a war and war is hell.

Re:Morale issue perhaps? (2, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 4 years ago | (#33168480)

I'm thinking the motive is to prevent damage to morale, but I can't see how the order is any less destructive on morale than the contents of these documents.

It's possible. But I have an alternative theory. This is the beginnings of legal action.

I've noted from my own experience in the past that where the US Government might fall behind, they tend to compensate with law. A script kiddie might get a chuckle out of having gotten away with logging in to IRC from a .gov address. But two years later, they may be shocked at having Feds showing up at their front door wanting them to go for a drive. Law is a long, laborious, and painstaking process. But as the Government is an entity of the law, they will use it to their best ability when all else fails.

Sure - we might all be chuckling about the futility of demanding the return of documents and forbidding troops from viewing digital copies of those documents; Streisand Effect on the global stage. But what if US Government agents already understand this? What if these are simply the steps they have to legally follow to establish that these documents have not, in any way, been released to the public? What if they are establishing Wikileak's position and limiting future legal maneuvering? What appears to be ludicrous could only appear to defy explanation because we don't yet have a good view of the tactic being put in to action.

Of course, time may also show that this is simply bureaucrats acting out without a firm grasp of reality. It wouldn't be the first time. I've certainly witnessed that as well. But one shouldn't immediately jump to this conclusion.

Tip of the iceberg? (5, Interesting)

IICV (652597) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Tip of the iceberg? (1)

jrouleau (1829808) | about 4 years ago | (#33168070)

Yes, the rats tend to jump shit er.....ship after the iceberg is hit - or maybe in this case - the information being released is made public. I think that with the exposure wikileaks gets from all the different media sources (including /. ) that it lends more credibility to what they have. If the military maybe were to igonore maybe the problem would go away?

Re:Tip of the iceberg? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33168302)

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:Tip of the iceberg? (1)

guspasho (941623) | about 4 years ago | (#33168464)

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?

I'm betting... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 4 years ago | (#33167962)

...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.

"Even from a personal computer"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168018)

Except for the "even from a personal computer" bit...

Re:"Even from a personal computer"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168566)

Huh, what makes you think they would except their personal computers from that kind of monitoring?

Re:I'm betting... (4, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | about 4 years ago | (#33168228)

From what I've read in the press, if they have the capacity to conduct those kinds of scans (and I honestly don't know if they do or don't) and they had audited their ACLs, the docs wouldn't have been leaked in the first place.

Re:I'm betting... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 years ago | (#33168352)

..that military security automatically scans their machines and networks for classified documents in the wrong locations

What with? Some super secret super computer that has hashes of every classified document ever produced? Come on...

The reason is simple and non-mysterious.

There is SIPERNET and NIPERNET, and they wanting to contaminate NIPERNET with classified material (which this stuff still is). As well, yes, in the US Military, you must possess the correct clearance to view certain classifications. That's just the way it is and isn't a new rule.

The US military should just (1)

gearsmithy (1869466) | about 4 years ago | (#33167964)

throw a party and not invite Julian Assange.

Re:The US military should just (1, Flamebait)

Deadplant (212273) | about 4 years ago | (#33168244)

You sir, are worse than Hitler.

Re:The US military should just (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | about 4 years ago | (#33168430)

Ever notice that all the great Simpsons quotes are from 5+ years ago?

There were a handful of gems in the Movie, but beyond that they haven't been memorable or relevent in a long time.

Military Policies in General (0, Offtopic)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33167970)

Always seemed to confuse me.

Like deserting or going AWOL getting you court-martialed and either put in confinement for a month or 2/3rds of your pay or something like that. If you don't want to be there, shouldn't you be allowed to leave? Maybe thats why people end up so messed up in the military, because leaving when they know its unhealthy for them is pretty much an illegal act.

Re:Military Policies in General (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168022)

Well, signing up for the military is infact signing your life away. The government now owns you.

Re:Military Policies in General (2, Informative)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 4 years ago | (#33168080)

While I see your point, I would like to be sure in a firefight that the guy who has been ordered to watch my back is actually there and not on a plane home because he/she decided they didn't want to play war any more.

You need to balance the "if you want to leave you should be able to leave" with "if you have been ordered to go to X and do Y we need to be sure that Y is actually going to get done or people will die".

Re:Military Policies in General (1, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33168154)

That usually isn't as much of a problem when the soldiers support the cause of the war.

Re:Military Policies in General (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | about 4 years ago | (#33168120)

The "volunteer" part of "all volunteer army" doesn't mean what you think it does.

I'm not a member of the military, never have been, nor am I a cheerleader for them, but if you don't clamp down on things like troops going AWOL or deserting in a military, you needn't bother depending on them at all.

Re:Military Policies in General (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168140)

breach of contract, and theft of US Government property (you sign the contract you are no longer a person, but property until your contract expires)

This is the same reason you hear "you can not die until ordered to"

Re:Military Policies in General (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33168200)

leaving when they know its unhealthy

is called "Desertion" and a capital offense in wartime. "Cowardice before the enemy" is also traditionally a capital offense in wartime.

The fundamental principle is this: if you're a lawful uniformed combatant in a combat situation, you have two legal choices: fight or die. And if you're gonna die, you're supposed to die fighting. "Surrender" is a viable option, but if you do it before justifiable in the eyes of your command that's probably unlawful.

Self-preservation is not a prized personal value in warfare.

Oh well. In my military career, the existence of the "unlimited liability" of a sworn military member gave me an excellent explanation to my wife when my commanders wanted me to do something uncomfortable, inconvenient, or silly: "'Reasonable' does not apply to an organization which can require me to lay down my life for absolutely no good reason."

Better part of valor and all that (2, Informative)

djconrad (1413667) | about 4 years ago | (#33168494)

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country." I just wish Patton had really said it. The lionization of death in combat always seemed ridiculous to me.

Re:Military Policies in General (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#33168202)

If you don't want to be there, shouldn't you be allowed to leave?

If you allow people to leave when they want to, then the moment the bullets start flying, you would lose all your troops. You are given the choice to stay or go when you enlist. If you enlist, you relinquish the right to decide whether to stay or leave. That decision is up to your superior officer.

Re:Military Policies in General (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 4 years ago | (#33168210)

When you sign up for the military, you sign up for a term of service. You can't just take the training and then quit if you don't like your assignment. Commitment like this isn't unique to the military or even employment. Pro athletes and actors/singers sign contracts promising to perform for X years, and they can't quit at year X-2 because they feel like it. I am committed to living in my apartment for another 3 months, and I have a (very specific and time-limited) non-compete clause in my employment contract. My landlord needs assurances that he won't be unexpectedly stuck with an empty room, and my bosses need assurances I won't leave them for a client.

Re:Military Policies in General (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 years ago | (#33168248)

If you don't want to be there, shouldn't you be allowed to leave?

It's been decided that we can't afford to have military members leaving unexpectedly, much less during wartime/before combat, etc...

I'll note that if you TRULY don't want to be in the military anymore, there's plenty of options to get out. You just have to accept the consequences. Some are worse than others. Faking/revealing you're gay at least used to be popular, but it's a bit uneven today as in many areas they more or less ignore the 'don't tell' part of don't ask/don't tell, as you'd practically have to do it IN the commander's office, with him there, to get them to care. At which point there's other UCMJ laws they can make your life unpleasant with.

Generally the easiest is to simply let your enlistment run out. Nets you the most benefits and doesn't burn any bridges.

Re:Military Policies in General (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 4 years ago | (#33168324)

That's why you should never join the military (or register for selective service).

Re:Military Policies in General (2, Funny)

mandark1967 (630856) | about 4 years ago | (#33168488)

I'm sure doing it your way would have been a smashing success on Omaha Beach or Tarawa or Saipan or Iwo Jima.

Military Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167972)

You can't shove the toothpaste back in the tube, General Failure. Get with the program.

Speak truth to power (-1, Flamebait)

hkz (1266066) | about 4 years ago | (#33167980)

This is a necessary consequence of speaking truth to power. You've unnerved them. Good for Wikileaks, you go girl! First they fight you, etc. (Then here came some cynicism about betraying the very values for which... but nevermind. European citizen, sorry.)

/s (1)

hkz (1266066) | about 4 years ago | (#33168362)

Sorry if that scans as a troll. I meant it sarcastically, in a deep, disappointed voice.

What about alternative sites? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 4 years ago | (#33167994)

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

wow... (0, Troll)

Zak3056 (69287) | about 4 years ago | (#33168006)

Words fail me. About the only thing I can imagine is that there is something in there that will utterly cripple morale when someone recognizes it for what it is and spreads the word. Of course, all this does it raise a giant banner up in the air saying, "PLEASE DO NOT LOOK AT THIS, THERE IS SOMETHING THAT WOULD EMBARRASS US!"

Well, either that, or this whole thing is designed to intensely focus analysis on something known to be benign.

Re:wow... (2, Informative)

Goldenhawk (242867) | about 4 years ago | (#33168224)

Nope, as I posted above, it's NOT some Big Brother attempt to censor the material. Give the military leadership SOME credit - they're not so dumb to think they can put the genie back in the bottle.

Instead, it's reminding servicemen and civilian agencies of the fairly strict policies about what happens if they view classified material on unclassified computers - or even on computers without need to know. If it's done (especially on purpose), it's punishable by pretty nasty penalties, including removal of security clearance, permanent banning from military computer resources, etc..

We still don't know much about the contents... (2, Interesting)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | about 4 years ago | (#33168012)

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:We still don't know much about the contents... (2, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 4 years ago | (#33168570)

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 locations were included.

Sounds more like a clarification (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#33168088)

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.

Really are you surprised? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168096)

This is coming from the people that buy an OS that they can't secure. Make note of the fact that they can't use USB drives, but they can transfer files via write once media like CDs/DVDs Look at the farce that is NMCI. The Navy doesn't even own its computers. They can't install anything that's not already approved.

Yes, they are very much disconnected from reality. The inmates are running the asylum and they have 1 -5 stars or go by the title Assistant Deputy Sec/Deputy Sec/Secretary of Defense/Army/Navy and Marine Corps. They really don't have a fucking clue.

Re:Really are you surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168300)

Yes, they are very much disconnected from reality. The inmates are running the asylum and they have 1 -5 stars or go by the title Assistant Deputy Sec/Deputy Sec/Secretary of Defense/Army/Navy and Marine Corps. They really don't have a fucking clue.

Or perhaps they are very much connected to a reality that you don't have a fucking clue about. Maybe you are an inmate and you're just all pissy because the folks running the asylum don't listen when you tell them how to run things.

Re:Really are you surprised? (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 4 years ago | (#33168520)

Make note of the fact that they can't use USB drives, but they can transfer files via write once media like CDs/DVDs

Well, idiocy is not limited to the military. For example, in my company, CD/DVD drives on laptops are disabled for security purposes, but we can use USB drives to our hearts' content. And it's not an artifact of old policy not being updated... this is a newly written policy put into place this year.

The Navy doesn't even own its computers.

So? The issue of ownership is separate from the issue of security.

They can't install anything that's not already approved.

This seems like a good practice, to me.

Authenticity (5, Insightful)

Fractal Dice (696349) | about 4 years ago | (#33168104)

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.

Re:Authenticity (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 4 years ago | (#33168356)

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.

Re:Authenticity (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 years ago | (#33168550)

I'd argue that when the Pentagon banned military members from viewing the documents they basically authenticated their contents.
If nothing else the action has increased the credibility of the documents.

That the Pentagon hasn't released statements suggesting that most if not all of the documents are suspected to be fake also lends credence to the documents' authenticity.

accessing the documents even from a personal computer is "willingly committing a security violation."

Only if they actually contained restricted information...

Attacking the symptom instead of the cause (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168116)

Is it me, or is everyone attacking the fact that these documents, which are apparently so horrible that they need to be banned, were leaked, and not the fact that the events that happened in the documents shouldn't have happened to begin with?

It's all CYA (3, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#33168124)

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.

banned = 'worth reading' (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 years ago | (#33168126)

anything thought of as 'banned' is sure to have juicy info inside.

getting me a copy, now. thanks for the heads-up.

It makes perfect sense. (4, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#33168146)

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.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (3, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33168368)

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.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 years ago | (#33168484)

I was never an officer, just a senior noncom.

Given how you write and what you say, I'm pretty sure you were NEVER a senior NCO.

Re:It makes perfect sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168452)

Clearly you have no clue at all about how the military works. Were you rejected? Or are you simply a loser stoner?

What don't they want the soldiers to see? (1)

Fuseboy (414663) | about 4 years ago | (#33168170)

Is this just a ham-fisted attempt to control those who they can, or is there specific content they don't want the soldiers (in particular) to see?

Not surprised at all (0)

esocid (946821) | about 4 years ago | (#33168206)

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.

From an outsider, I'm not shocked at all by this disconnect. The military has always displayed its "leave your individual thinking to us" mentality, which I suppose is a way to stifle dissent, but by no means a way to effectively relay information anywhere, except at the top. I am, however, happy to find that individual service members do actually think for themselves, and I'm sure some will commit this so called willing security violation. Instead of trying to force the water back into the spigot, they should be finding a way to funnel the water in a way that is beneficial, or at least, less damaging to them. Like always, the people who run things are always out of touch with reality, and are unwilling to adapt policy/behavior when shit hits the fan.

The fact that these documents are considered so damning is exactly why they should be public. Change for the better, in situations like these, never happens purely by choice, but rather because someone (individuals or entities) is actually pointed out and told "I know you fucked up, now what are you going to do about it?" And like most cases, the public is always the most expedient avenue.

It's all about containment. (1)

NetRanger (5584) | about 4 years ago | (#33168268)

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 this problem from occurring before Murphy's Law can take effect. Nothing sinister, just pragmatic.

Something about horses and a barn door.. (1)

RabbitWho (1805112) | about 4 years ago | (#33168310)

Or cups of water and a sinking ship. I'm sure there's an idiom for this.

Yeah...not so much with the logic there... (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33168312)

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.

Now it's up to the DoJ to figure out what to do about that.

Overblown non-story (1)

demonbug (309515) | about 4 years ago | (#33168350)

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 actually are for publicly-available but still-classified documents (sounds like there was a wide-spread rumor that public disclosure of classified documents automatically removed the classified status). Until the documents are officially declassified soldiers must follow the rules and treat them as classified documents, which means not attempting to access them if they do not have the proper clearance level, and even if they do have the clearance to access them, they cannot do so over a public network (or store them on a non-secure system).

Note that I'm not saying the rules make sense, just that everyone is getting all riled up about the military simply clarifying the rules so that service members don't get themselves in trouble. This is analogous to your lawyer telling you, "Just because you can find copyrighted material freely available on a web site does not mean you legally have the right to download that material". Of course in this case it results in a perverse situation where everyone outside the military can access these classified military documents, particularly those the classified status was meant to prevent obtaining the documents, but until a rule change or declassification of the documents members of the military still need to follow the rules.

Dear members of the military, do not watch tele.. (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | about 4 years ago | (#33168376)

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

"'take care of' the Wikileaks problem" (1)

robnator (250608) | about 4 years ago | (#33168426)

Unfortunately, the only way to accomplish that mission is to eliminate the source. No, I mean the secrets, not Wikileaks.

You're really that surprised? (4, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | about 4 years ago | (#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?

Reader carp3_noct3m didn't learn anything (1)

gadlaw (562280) | about 4 years ago | (#33168528)

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 it. People have died because of this security breech and I do hope that the United States government is able to shut down Wikileaks and end their own disconnect from reality. To think that they will escape the consequences of their actions is the ultimate disconnect as far as I'm concerned.

At long last, logic! (0, Troll)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 4 years ago | (#33168546)

Forbidding ordinary soldiers, sailors, airmen and such from reading the documents actually makes a lot of sense. Terrorists already know how utterly witless the US military brass are, so it doesn't matter if they visit Wikileaks and engage in an orgy of downloading. The brass, however, are scared to death that the lower ranks in their own commands might figure out how stupid, cruel and ineffective they are.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>