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Air Force Blocks NY Times, WaPo, Other Media

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the horses-and-barns dept.

The Military 372

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Air Force, not content with blocking WikiLeaks and its mirrors, has begun blocking media sites carrying WL documents. "Air Force users who try to view the websites of the New York Times, Britain's Guardian, Spain's El Pais, France's Le Monde or German magazine Der Spiegel instead get a page that says, 'ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored'... The Air Force says it has blocked more than 25 websites that contain WikiLeaks documents, in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems. ... The move was ordered by the 24th Air Force... The Army, Navy, and Marines aren't blocking the sites, and the Defense Department hasn't told the services to do so, according to spokespeople for the services and the Pentagon."

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Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (5, Insightful)

Machupo (59568) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556116)

We don't want the stable-hands still inside to see that the horses are gone.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556216)

There may be good reasons to do this, such as legal reasons. Just because they are public knowledge and everyone in the world has access to them, it doesn't mean all these documents are suddenly unclassified.

Therefore, looking at classified material and leaving them up in a web browser might be a legal breach.

Congress needs to pass a law stating that any publicly available document is automatically unclassified for this to be OK!

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556396)

Agreed. My knee-jerk reaction is the same as others, but from someone in the military's perspective, it's better they not read something they aren't supposed to.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (3, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556466)

Air Force, meet Streisand Effect.

You to are about to get to know each other quite well I think.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556706)

Air Force, meet Streisand Effect.

You to are about to get to know each other quite well I think.

:(

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556608)

Not supposed to my ass. They have the right to these documents, just not from Air Force computers. These are now public documents and the Air Force has no right to determine what Air Force personnel read on their own time.

However, if the Air Force allows reading other news sites from Air Force computers, this move is very petty and immature.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (5, Insightful)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556702)

Ah, so when the Taliban do read them and the US forces don't, it will put the Americans at an advantage?

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556440)

Agreed. Don't know if it is mentioned in this source, but in another article the A.F. said this is about following the regulation about keeping classified information off unclassified systems.

It sounds like B.S. at first until you remember that scene in Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks tells the n00b soldier that he doesn't know how to complain about slogging through the mud to save some other guy's ass. He then asks the experienced vet to show the n00b how it's done... Maybe the A.F. has decided to do their job a little too well for the suits.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556620)

I think they can make the documents unclassified now.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556580)

There may be good reasons to do this, such as legal reasons. Just because they are public knowledge and everyone in the world has access to them, it doesn't mean all these documents are suddenly unclassified.

I propose another possibility: leak detection.

If military people are accessing these leaked documents on the equipment, how are the military supposed to know if a soldier learned about the information by reading the New York times, OR if the soldier read about the information through more direct privileged access?

If the DoD need to investigate a leak, then it could be helpful to interrogate soldiers, use polygraph techniques, and other tactics.

Anyone shown to know more about the documents than they are supposed to, could be involved in the leak.

If the soldiers read documents through the New York times etc etc, it interferes with the ongoing investigation, by tainting the pool.... if soldiers can do that, then people interrogated might show to know about a lot of the documents leaked, and yet have nothing to do with it.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556782)

Except that the military isn't a closed ecosystem. That becomes useless when the answer to the question can be as simple as "My [wife, brother, friend, preacher, ...] told me in a phone conversation last week."

No, this has nothing to do with any of the altruistic purposes that folks have suggested. The reason is pure and simple. The government wants to punish the news media for its role in distributing the information. Expect other federal organizations to add similar blocks in the next few days. I'm actually surprised it didn't happen sooner. It's just like how the previous administration punished the media for being too critical of Bush by throwing their folks out of the White House press corps. The Obama administration likes to use the word "transparency", but in truth, like all governments, they only want transparency when it doesn't cast them or their cronies in a bad light.

If the federal government costs those news organizations enough eyes, they'll think twice before crossing them again, and more to the point, so will all the other news organizations. This is why freedom of the press must be near-absolute, and why the government should be disallowed from any direct action to block websites for any reason. (By "direct action", I'm leaving a loophole for K-12 public schools to pay a non-government vendor to maintain a block list.) The government has shown time and time again that it cannot be trusted to sit back and allow the free press to criticize it and air its dirty laundry---that it cannot be trusted to allow the free press to do its job as a watchdog and as a check and balance against government abuse. Because it cannot resist the temptation to interfere inappropriately, it must not be allowed to interfere at all.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (2)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556812)

Perhaps so, but that is a *really* bad technicality.
Anything in the public domain can't really be classified, let alone when its distributed in such a massive way like how Wikileaks does it.

I assume they arent arresting Air Force personnel for having a dead tree copy right?

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556414)

I picture a bunch of high ranking Air Force guys in their fancy uniforms sitting around on futons in someone's apartment. There's a blacklight on, Pink Floyd's _Dark Side of the Moon_ is playing, and they're passing this enormous bong around the room. After taking a really deep hit, one general turns to the other and says, "Whoa... dude, I just had the most amazing idea! For years we've worried about the secrets getting OUT. What if, instead, we worked to keep the secrets from getting IN?" And then the other generals turn and say "Whoa... deep, man, deep! Wow... does anyone have anything to eat?"

At any rate, that's how I imagine people might come up with this kind of policy.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

tombeard (126886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556508)

Dude! Pizza! Path to world peace!

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556554)

dude - i laugh so hard picturing this I almost shit my paints....

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (2)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556572)

This is a good thing, as it protects service members and civilian employees. The problem is, it is a really _bad_ thing for these folks to end up with classified documents on their computers. Just becuase WL went and released a bunch of classsified docments does not mean that they are now unclassified. They are still confidential, secret, or top secret. An employee with this sort of material on his/her hard disk could be in a lot of trouble, not to mention that the computer in question would have to be processed to positively remove the classified material. This could involve destruction of the hard disk, as simply erasing it might leave a trace of the classified material if the erase head didn't exactly track the previous path of that write head. A thin strip of classified could still remain. So, total destruction of the hard disk might be required, with obvious loss of not only the value of the disk, but possibly other material the user was working on.

Better to block these sites, and avoid the problem from the get-go. And I'm not sorry to see these site lose the traffic. Its a mild punishment for the major damage that it has done to the country, and possibly more horrific consequences to come if insurgents / Taliban find a use for some of the names that may be exposed.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556650)

I don't even think it's that complicated. The sites are a time waster, just like Facebook. You want to read the cables, do it on your own time. There's no reason to be sifting through these on the job. The people that need to view them already have access on the appropriate network.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556722)

You obviously don't know how data is classified or shared. Very often, the frontline people who could use the confidential data are kept from it by the secret squirrel guys who overclassify and don't share with worker bees so they can justify their jobs. There is often no one to question when something is classified. I've written whitepapers based off of open information on the Internet that were subsequently classified and quickly became stale and not updated.

Re:Quick, Close the Barn Door!!! (3, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556666)

That's superficially logical, but it seems to centre around "keeping data secure because it has a classification attached to it", as opposed to the (subtly but importantly different) "keeping data secure in order to prevent it from being disseminated to the public". Surely classification is a means to an end; a way of limiting access? If that end has been compromised, the classification has already failed. It's accepted that these documents are widely available to the public already - wouldn't it make more sense from all perspectives, including that of the military, to declare the Wikileaks-redacted versions declassified?

If they do manage to bring any court cases for the leaks, the fact that they were classified at the time of release isn't changed by a subsequent declassification. They don't have to like it, and it's not an admission of defeat, it's just a logical action that actually enhances the consistency of the classification system by preventing situations where documents widely distributed to those without clearance can't be seen by those with clearance.

1994 (0)

mangamuscle (706696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556130)

Each passing day big brother becomes more real :(

Re:1994 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556192)

The year big brother made contact?

Re:1994 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556204)

Shit! Only 10 more years backwards and we'll get back to 1984! Somebody blow up the flux capacitor!

Re:1994 (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556358)

*facepalm*

reply (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556136)

well if everyone becomes a wikileaks mirror, they wont be able to get to anything.

Millitary inteligence (4, Insightful)

visionsofmcskill (556169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556164)

So the ONLY people willfully kept in the dark are the soldiers meant to protect us? Are the very people who are the most likely to know the dirt anyway?

F$%^ing brilliant. Next up, weapons ban limited to the army.

Hey soldier, this dam is broke, please fix it... here's a spoon

Re:Millitary inteligence (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556316)

They have weird rules in the military, and this may just be the guy in charge of keeping classified material off of classified computers covering his ass by following the letter of the rules.

Shoot they had us fly with our weapons a few times, but they still took away our lighters.. go figure.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556346)

off of unclassified computers

Re:Millitary inteligence (2)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556420)

Possibly a dumb question, but is information published in the NYT still 'classified'?

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556484)

How could the NYT un-classify something? They don't work for the US Government, and certainly they can't make fully informed judgments on how the information can damage the National Security of the US. They might make some guesses, even good guesses, but that is far from the same thing.

Re:Millitary inteligence (2)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556534)

The point is, once it's actually been published in the NYT, what's the point of considering it classified anymore? What damage could possibly be done that hasn't already?

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556588)

Doesn't matter if its tattooed on everyone's arm. If the pencil pusher is told.. Keep clasified material off this computer, and the pencil pusher knows that classified material is on these webpages. Hes going to block it. Heck he might even think its stupid, but its better to follow the rules, then to risk getting in trouble for not following the rules.

Re:Millitary inteligence (0)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556574)

By posting the classified information in a place where the entire human race can view it, it is inherently unclassified. What exactly is classified material? I assumed classified material was named as such because the military/government requires that those viewing it have a certain classification; the leaked cables no longer require any type of special classification to access, so they are essentially unclassified.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

CoJoNEs (73698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556732)

No, its not
Executive Order 13526 Section 1.1(4)(c)
Classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556558)

Possibly a dumb question, but is information published in the NYT still 'classified'?

Publishing in the NYT or anywhere else does not automagically 'unclassify' it.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556636)

Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556416)

No soldiers are being kept in the dark.

The definition of a soldier is one who serves in a land army

The United States Air Force is the one blocking per the title of the story, they would be called airmen or aircrew.

Re:Millitary inteligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556490)

Most airmen are never the crew of an aircraft though, and if they ever set foot inside of an aircraft, they are there as passengers. Instead, their duties are on the ground, supporting said aircraft, or, as is more often the case: sweeping hangars or guarding bases.

Re:Millitary inteligence (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556696)

That is true, however the United States Air Force is not an army, every definition of "soldier" has a soldier being the member of the ground force of a nation's army.

Re:Millitary inteligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556492)

You are technically correct, the best kind of correct! +1 rank in the central bureaucracy.

Re:Millitary inteligence (2)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556546)

I don't think that is right, or at least hasn't been right in a while. Soldier means someone who maintains a separate contract with the social body and as such has various natural rights removed from their person.

It is arranged along the same lines as citizenship. A citizen is in a neutral position with regards to the give and take of society - rights are bestowed so long as the social contract is observed. A soldier is in a positive position, in that they are supposed to follow the direction of the social body for the protection of the social body and will receive unspecified later benefits after they have returned to right-holding civilian status (this is why I think soldiers shouldn't be allowed to vote). On the other end of the spectrum are those that have violated the social contract, and they are deprived of rights in the same manner as the soldier, but are only restored to their rights later if the indiscretion was adjudged below a certain severity.

This is why it is so dangerous to go into battle without a sovereign guaranteeing your rights. If you are not a soldier, but only a stateless enemy combatant the U.S. is not technically removing any right from your person via rendition. There was no law establishing your right to begin with unless you subscribe to the now defunct concept of basic 'human' rights. The U.S. no longer does and has not for some time.

Re:Millitary inteligence (2)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556518)

Actually, I believe Julian Assange is also being kept in the dark. On the ABC (Australian radio) at lunchtime I heard they're keeping him in solitary confinement; that they gave him a copy of Time magazine to read, but removed the cover because it featured him.

The fact that he's being held like this is a much bigger indictment of American policy than any unguarded opinions of the diplomats would be.

Definitely !! Surely !! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556170)

The servicemen may be able to fly a fscking jet fighter, but they are probably not able to get to wikileaks documents through a non-airforce internet connection !!

Re:Definitely !! Surely !! (2)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556300)

True. Most of the USAF pilots I've talked to are pretty stupid. They are really good at flying their planes, but other than that, most of them are dumb as bricks. And they tent to have egos larger than their multi-ton planes.

Re:Definitely !! Surely !! (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556330)

most of them are dumb as bricks

And they tent to have egos larger than their multi-ton planes

tent huh... lol

Re:Definitely !! Surely !! (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556400)

How many pilots is that? I just thought the military in general are just told what to think. Hence they can't be expected to develop a sense of criticism we, non military people, need to survive. Otherwise we'd be sucked-in by the next big scam.

Re:Definitely !! Surely !! (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556472)

Sounds like the military version of the TSA incident:

"What??? You're limiting what publicly-available classified material I can see, when I could already defect with an Air Force plane if I wanted ... [/court-martial]"

Gives me a lot of confidence in the military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556178)

Blows my mind that their approach is to close their eyes and hope it goes away. What's the average age of soldiers, 21 or 22? I'm guessing if they really want to read the stories they'll be tech savy enough to manage some how. I'm on the fence about Wikileaks but blocking news sites to try to suppress stories is moronic and shows how seriously behind the times they really are.

Re:Gives me a lot of confidence in the military (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556444)

http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/library/airforcepersonnelstatistics.asp [af.mil]

Average age of enlisted Airmen is 29, officers are 35

Average age of the United States military is 28, Army and those would be your soldiers is 29 and the Marines are younger, 25.

Re:Gives me a lot of confidence in the military (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556740)

Tech savvy enough to, I don't know, just view it at home? There's no reason these need to be viewed at work and can be considered a simple time waster like Facebook (which is also blocked or at least was on my networks).

Unclassified (2)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556186)

in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems.

Perhaps the need to realize that material on a major newspaper's web site cannot by any stretch of the imagination still be considered to be "classified". Or is this just some pencil pusher trying to follow the rules are written?

Re:Unclassified (3, Informative)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556306)

Information is remains classified until someone with the proper authority de-classifies it. Just because it is released into the wild does not de-classify something. No more than if a thief sells your property to a third party it is no longer your property. You may not have physical possession or control of it, but you certainly would assume you still owned it.

Re:Unclassified (3, Informative)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556488)

secret

1. done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others

2. kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/secret [reference.com]

If everybody knows it because it's plastered over the front page of the New York Times it is no longer a secret. Your thief analogy is inaccurate. Regardless of the legitimacy of how it got there, you can not reasonably believe that it is, any more, 'secret'. To look at it another way: a thief stole your vase and smashed it. It is now a broken vase. Just because they had no right to do so doesn't unbreak the vase.

Re:Unclassified (0)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556562)

Good, but wrong. Reference.com is not a classification guide, it is a dictionary.

Classification, secret, top secret, sensitive, and the others are not Only about keeping knowledge away from the general public. They are about the degree to which that knowledge can harm the National Security of the United States AND keeping that knowledge away from people that would use it to harm the United States.

The knowledge remains dangerous until something is done to counter whatever the threat is. Thus it remains classified until the threat is countered. The thief cannot smash the information and destroy it. If that had happened there wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Unclassified (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556646)

The thief cannot smash the information and destroy it.

Correct. However, the trait about information that makes it impossible to destroy also makes it impossible to unclassify.

You can argue all you want about how something being secret is a classification problem that has nothing to do with who knows that information, but it doesn't change the fact that the purpose of the classification has been rendered nil: to prevent to distribution of said information to unauthorized people. It is exactly a problem of closing the barn after the horses are gone.

They are about the degree to which that knowledge can harm the National Security of the United States AND keeping that knowledge away from people that would use it to harm the United States.

Classic logic problem: invalidating part of the sentence invalidates all of it. Once the wrong people know it, it's pointless to keep the knowledge from people who would not use it to harm the United States.

Re:Unclassified (0)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556690)

None of which changes the fact it hasn't been declassified, and thus can't be on systems not intended for classified information.

Re:Unclassified (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556814)

The point being made that any official "declassification" is, to use the barn-door analogy, like saying "ok, open the door and let the horses out" 30 years after the horses bolted. Pointless bureacracy - it's one thing to keep something classified when there has been a leak to a limited audience, such as might occur through espionage, but when it is so public the only sensible thing to do would be to declassify documents (or parts thereof) as they are made available publically. To blanket ban the NY Times because of the potential for classified material to be available is simply playing peekaboo with the regulations.

Re:Unclassified (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556790)

It is probably viewed as a reasonable safeguard for preventing more secrets leaking, including secrets within the force, and not as censorship.

Technically, of course, it is meaningless to keep the pretense the Wikileaks are secrets anymore. If you are in a simple situation and only have access to one, or very few secrets, this is so.

Typical commercial NDAs are usually drafted in this fashion -- I haven't signed a single one that doesn't provide a clause that renders it void if the matters it covers become public in some way.

But if you are the military, and you manage a lot of secrets and a lot of compartmentalization across a large group of people, a leak may have many undesired effects, especially given other, yet unleaked knowledge that insider groups have.

I suppose this is the main reason for banning staff from reading leaks, theoretically. Ditto for government officials with clearance.

Now, we can argue all day whether a commercial-style NDA is better than a keeping a pretense, and it may be totally meaningless given the difficulty of enforcement, but there is a perverse logic behind the decision that is not based on censorship, or desire to "unbreak" the leak, but, rather, prevent further leaks and problems.

Re:Unclassified (2)

tombeard (126886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556568)

Well, you can classify it any way you want, but it is still common public knowledge. RIAA et al aside, you cant "own" knowledge. Cost of reproduction is zero. Once you display any information it is owned by us all.

Re:Unclassified (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556628)

Just because something is easy to steal does not give you rights to take it.

Do you you own everything you see just because you can pick the locks? Does someone else own all of your possessions because they can easily take them from you? That is a pretty muddy moral world you're living in. If the only barrier to ownership is in how difficult it is to get it from the guy that has it, how is that different from Brute-force World? If the victim was willing to give it up, or deserved to be copied from because she didn't put up a good defense. Really?

Re:Unclassified (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556590)

Information is remains classified until someone with the proper authority de-classifies it. Just because it is released into the wild does not de-classify something. No more than if a thief sells your property to a third party it is no longer your property. You may not have physical possession or control of it, but you certainly would assume you still owned it.

This yields an interesting idea... what Happens if the DoD decides to classify the US Constitution top secret?

I suppose then... no members of the military will be allowed to read it; nobody will be allowed to discuss its content in public, for fear of arrest.

Merely posting an excerpt, such as content of the 1st amendment could lead to a lifetime prison sentence

Brilliant!

Re:Unclassified (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556780)

Suppose a copy of Playboy gets classified so it can be taken into a classified area.

Re:Unclassified (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556610)

Terrible analogy. The material is still classified but there is no longer anything secret or confidential about that information.

To say it is like a thief selling physical property is a tenuous analogy. If a thief steals your property you can get it back, information and ideas are not like property in any way.

Re:Unclassified (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556664)

Classified is what I was discussing. Secret or confidential in the colloquial sense was not part of the discussion.

And I don't intend to get into your articles of faith at all.

Re:Unclassified (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556818)

To make the intellectual leap of considering information and ideas as property is your article of faith friend.

It sounds like you're trying to justify the banning of these websites on the grounds of protecting some sort of imagined property. That the situation is absurd given that the information is no longer secret seems to have passed you completely. What warped perception of reality could lead to this is beyond my imagining.

Re:Unclassified (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556726)

And if you follow the security guidelines on classified material, any device that is touched by classified documents becomes contaminated and is then also a classified device. They don't want all their email computers becoming restricted to SIFR

Re:Unclassified (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556332)

It's been a while, but my understanding is that anything that gets put on the media channels is compromised, and your response should always be the standard, "I can neither confirm nor deny that statement". Of course, trying to keep your own people in the dark about things that are now public knowledge, even if it was classified, is a really bad idea that is going to screw you over real quick.

Re:Unclassified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556394)

If they have the need to know, they have the access to know it already.

Re:Unclassified (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556446)

Who knows? It could be a form of white mutiny [wikipedia.org] - after all, blocking military members' access to popular news sites is a really stupid thing to do, but if the regulations say you have to do it then maybe everyone gets blocked, including the people who are in a position to change the regulations.

Blind obedience to authority without morals... (5, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556238)

...caused a lot of the ugly chapters of history. Being part of an organisation makes you responsible for it's actions.

Re:Blind obedience to authority without morals... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556434)

Aye. It's like the age-old Death Star contractors [youtube.com] conundrum.

Re:Blind obedience to authority without morals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556502)

Fuck you! You're self righteous prick.

Keep in mind... (3, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556244)

Most of the guys at the top making these decisions are old and don't understand how the internet works. It's kinda cute, really.

Re:Keep in mind... (1)

osssmkatz (734824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556318)

I don't think it's cute. I think it is an abridgment of the 1st amendment. And that is the scariest thing. Scarier than Guantanamo Bay. Keep in mind that the constitution has only been suspended during times of war. It is not to be permitted, not then and not now.

Military members don't have rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556524)

The 1st amendment does not apply to military members. They do not have the same right, nor code of laws as civilians.

Re:Keep in mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556760)

The men and women of the armed forces are sworn to uphold the constitution. This involves giving up partial rights to some of those freedoms enjoyed by Americans. It is not scary, it is just a fact of being in the military.

This blocking of sites for material that the military deems objectionable is the same as them blocking sites that have porn or games on them. It is their network and they get to decide what goes on the work computers. There is nothing scary or evil about that at all. If this had been any other company updating firewall rules there would be no story.

Re:Keep in mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556460)

Most of the geeks at the bottom making these posts are young and don't understand how handling classified information works. It's kinda cute, really.

Re:Keep in mind... (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556564)

Most of the guys at the top making these decisions are old and don't understand how the internet works.

These decisions are made by Congress. Not everyone in Congress is old, and not all of them are guys.

Look, the military is just following the law. Which is what they should do, even when the law is stupid. They don't make the law.

Hmm. What part don't they get? (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556266)

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press

The military is, of course, under control of the Executive branch, which is bound to enforcing the law, not creating or ignoring it (even the little bit of autonomy, such as treaties and appointments, is subject to Congressional approval).

Re:Hmm. What part don't they get? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556294)

That's abridging the freedom of the readership, not of the press. The wikileaks still get published, it is just forbidden to read them.

Come to think of it, it will be a constitutional way to cut you off information when, in a few years, all press comes to your Eyepad.

/ says my tinfoil hat.

Wow, that's so stupid and pointless! (5, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556278)

It's like confiscating matchbooks but not lighters from the stable boys after THE ENTIRE TOWN HAS BURNED DOWN !

Yet considering what I saw when I was in the military I'm not that surprised. A plane buff I knew on base wrote to the Library of Congress (as a normal civilian using his civilian address) asking for info on the SR71 Blackbird. They sent him some cool media materials which included a poster sized drawing of the plane, all standard and unclassified press packet stuff. During an inspection of the barracks a stupid officer saw it and wanted him arrested for spying and stealing classified material.

Because of things like that, do I get surprised when some military moron goes off half-cocked and without bullets? No, I've become convinced that most of them don't even understand the security rules or pretty much anything else that exists outside their egocentric imaginations. (And I'm pretty sure that 3 of the 5 generals I actually met were senile at the time. 4 of them were also complete assholes, but that's a different issue.)

so the USAF is unsecured? (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556280)

FTA, "...websites that contain WikiLeaks documents, in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems..."

IOW, computer systems that host WL docs are classified and USAF computers are not?

Re:so the USAF is unsecured? (1)

acnicklas (1740146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556304)

Yes, exactly. Not EVERY computer in the DoD is accredited to process classified material.

Re:so the USAF is unsecured? (2)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556386)

Right. Think about it. If a government system was serving up classified documents to anyone that asked, it would be a major scandal. People would rightly want it shut down or disconnected. You certainly would not want classified stuff leaking out into the world, or crossing into systems it doesn't belong in.

OK, so now we have WL serving up classified documents. So what does the government do? Disconnect from the systems doing the leaking. Can't shut down WL itself, legally, but you can minimize the leakage into places the information doesn't belong.

Re:so the USAF is unsecured? (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556530)

Wikileaks can't be shut down legally or realistically.

Re:so the USAF is unsecured? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556408)

FTA, "...websites that contain WikiLeaks documents, in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems...",

IOW, computer systems that host WL docs are classified and USAF computers are not?

Let me play Devil's Advocate for a moment.

Suppose you're in the business of supplying green jellybeans. Only green jellybeans are permitted - your boss is a fanatic, and the contract gets cancelled if any of your customers ever see any color other than green when they open their bags of jellybeans.

If you tell your employees "NO RED JELLYBEANS" and check their pockets at the start of every shift, and a red jellybean shows up in the output of your green jellybean production line, you know you've got a problem with your equipment.

If, however, you let all of your workers bring in a bag of red jellybeans to snack on during their shift, however, you have no way of knowing if there's a problem with your equipment, or if (far more likely) one of your employees accidentally dropped a red jellybean into the trough while snacking.

It's not that you don't trust your employees with red jellybeans. You just want to be absolutely sure that if red jellybeans start showing up, that you know where they came from. Because if you rationalize every red jellybean away with "oh, don't worry, someone accidentally dropped one while snacking", you'll never know whether your production process actually works.

Re:so the USAF is unsecured? (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556716)

The analogy falls apart because it's not green and red jellybeans. It's truth that's being dealt with. Truth that happens to mean the life or death of quite a few people somewhere in this world.

Finger Exercise (1)

isochroma (762833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556354)

Hope the air farce criminals have lots of fingers to plug them leaky holes with. There's gonna be a lot of 'em. Might just be easier to pull the plug entirely.

Oh Noez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556402)

Of course we wouldn't want the people most likely to be affected by this material (the military) to actually be able to see it. They might perhaps, become better educated! Aieeeeee!

Do they really think... (1)

exentropy (1822632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556462)

the soldiers won't find this information in other ways? I'm sure the news is being spread verbally; What are the people in charge gonna do next? Prosecute people for simply knowing the info? No, this is simply a childish attempt to uphold a structure which Wikileaks has shown to be corrupt and misguided.

Yes, that is next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556566)

Military members have been informed that if they, or even their family members are found viewing or in possession of classified documents published by wikileaks they are subject to discipline under the UCMJ. The soldiers who know have permission to know, but the word being handed down is that if you aren't supposed to know, you are in trouble, and it doesn't look like an idle bluff.

This is like fixing a leaky roof (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556474)

By putting a bucket underneath one place where water was seen to have started to trickle

Ignoring the fact that the floor and walls are already soaked, the room is already flooded, there are 1000 other places in the room where there are holes in the roof, and for now the rain has mostly abated anyways.

Restrictions on classified materials (4, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556550)

Speaking as a federal employee, we've already been told that we are not to access the classified documents leaked on Wikileaks unless we already have clearance and authority to view such documents (which I don't, of course). On the other hand, we were also told that we're not restricted from viewing independent reporting about the leaked documents; that is, if the NYT talks about what's in a classified diplomatic cable, we can read the article no problem, but if they serve up a copy of the document, we're supposed to avoid it.

This applies extra in cases where we're using government computers, because it creates a problem having classified documents on a system not authorized to have classified documents on it. I don't know whether they'd press charges if someone did this anyway, but at the very least it could cost someone their job, so I'm happy to steer clear.

Re:Restrictions on classified materials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556618)

Your rules, while correct, are for civilians. The rules being told to military members are far stricter, with specific ramifications. It worries me a little to be posting AC, logged out and in a clean browser in a wikileaks thread...

Oh please! (1)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556592)

This is so stupid, I just don't know where to begin.
I guess it's true what they say about military intelligence.

Technically that's probably what the rules say (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556644)

Of course it's a special kind of stupid that cares about following the letter that closely.

Balance? (2, Informative)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556652)

Ah, so you block the New York Times and Washington Post for posting 'traitorous' documents, but are they still rebroadcasting 'patriotic' Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in Iraq for the troops?

The military has a special TV and radio service called AFRTS that replays shows for troops overseas, but there's been accusations of bias for years (eg all conservative shows but no liberal ones)

But is it fair to? (1)

alphastrike (1938886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556654)

Does an organization/company have the authority to prevent access to any internet site
that is not work related to their employees?

The hospital where I work blocked facebook.com, espn.com, and wizards.com, but
if you access WiFi as a patient using an itouch, none of those site are blocked.

I see that it's obviously suspicious for Air Force to block Wikileaks and related sites.
And if say my AT&T DSL Cable Company start blocking Wikileaks, I'd be Raging against
the Machine for sure.
But is it within their power as employers to dictate what employee's browsing options are?

I think it's an interesting question at least.

Summary is not entirely correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556670)

"The Army, Navy, and Marines aren't blocking the sites, and the Defense Department hasn't told the services to do so, according to spokespeople for the services and the Pentagon."

The Army isn't blocking entire sites but trying to access any web page that reference Wiki leaks will result in a access policy denied... I wouldn't even be able to access this page at work though the rest of Slashdot is accessible

WaPo? (1)

Pilo (673839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34556686)

I don't see any mention of the Washington Post in the linked article.

Executive Order 13526 Section 1.1(4)(c) (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34556700)

posting anon on purpose
Executive Order 13526 Section 1.1(4)(c) is why you can't read wikileaks as a government contractor or a Government employee and why its being blocked by some AF networks (not all). We would lose our jobs and possibly be fined and/or prison time.

        Section 1.1. Classification Standards. (a) Information may be originally classified under the terms of this order only if all of the following conditions are met:
        (1) an original classification authority is classifying the information;
        (2) the information is owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government;
        (3) the information falls within one or more of the categories of information listed in section 1.4 of this order; and
        (4) the original classification authority determines that the unauthorized disclosure of the information reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism, and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.
        (b) If there is significant doubt about the need to classify information, it shall not be classified. This provision does not:
        (1) amplify or modify the substantive criteria or procedures for classification; or
        (2) create any substantive or procedural rights subject to judicial review.
        (c) Classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information.
        (d) The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.

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