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U.S. Army Block Access To The Guardian's Website Over NSA Leaks

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the lalalalalala-i-can't-hear-you dept.

The Military 331

New submitter crashcy writes "According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army, the military organization is 'blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper's reports about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of data about Americans' email and phone communications.' The spokesman goes on to state that it is routine to block access where classified materials may be distributed. The term used was 'network hygiene.' 'Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in "labor intensive" work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer's hard drive. He wrote that an employee who downloads classified information could face disciplinary action if found to have knowingly downloaded the material on an unclassified computer.'"

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331 comments

network ignorance (4, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | about 10 months ago | (#44131939)

Are they going turn off the TV for them, too?

Re:network ignorance (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44131995)

Are they going turn off the TV for them, too?

... and their family's TV's and internet, and their smartphones, and the free wifi at the coffee shop right off base...

Re:network ignorance (4, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 10 months ago | (#44132431)

"...can't stop the signal, Mal."

It's amazing how science fiction is so indicative of the real world sometimes.

Re:network ignorance (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132027)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

Re:network ignorance (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44132061)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

By blocking a publicly accessible journalism website?

Oh, right this is the Army, where Process A Requires Solution B, So Do C Instead is command's modus operandi.

Re:network ignorance (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#44132447)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

By blocking a publicly accessible journalism website?

Yes. What's so hard to understand here? There are a bunch of federal employees and contractors who simply aren't allowed to have access to various sorts of classified information, no matter where that information comes from or how public it is.

Re:network ignorance (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#44132551)

It is a silly rule in this situation, but a rule just the same. We had this before, when the diplomatic cables were leaked and the army put out a notice that anyone caught reading about the contents would be disciplined.

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132453)

I for one feel safe knowing that the only people on the planet who are not privy to this classified information are the masses of soldiers who are supposed to defend us.

Re:network ignorance (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132531)

By blocking a publicly accessible journalism website?

Oh, right this is the Army, where Process A Requires Solution B, So Do C Instead is command's modus operandi.

No, it actually makes sense.

Suppose your objective is to prevent malware from appearing on your PC. (or secure a server.) This isn't a Windows-vs-Unix thing, the answer is the same for what happens when a server gets rooted.

What's the best thing to do when your PC has malware on it? When a server is rooted? You wipe the disk and reinstall the OS from a known good image. It's the only way to be sure that not a single byte of malware/rootkit remains on the disk.

That's the objective. Not one byte of bad stuff on the disk. A single NOP in the wrong place could open a back door.

You could spend a few hours editing registry keys, burning a CD of the contents of /bin from a known good workstation and copying the files over, doing a byte-by-byte comparison of /bin/cp and /bin/ls, and so on, but you'd never be completely sure the system wasn't compromised. If you got rid of the malware and any back doors left by whoever rooted the system, you're fine.

That's what the .mil folks are trying to do with their networks, except that instead of "malware", it's "classified information on computers used for unclassified work."

And it's not as silly as it sounds. You want to know that if malware exists on your system, there's something wrong. In PC terms, there's no harm done by users downloading dancing-bunnies.exe as long as they never actually run it. (Maybe it's a false positive -- the user was merely going to spend a lunch break disassembling it to understand how the exploit was written... Maybe they're downloading a Linux rootkit for analysis on a PC, or vice versa. But how can you tell the difference between that and someone downloading a Linux rootkit with the intention of maliciously installing it on a Linux server that can only be accessed through the compromised PC...)

If you only have one user, you could ask them, but if you have 100,000 users, you can't. You just don't have enough sysadmins to nicely ask everyone on the network if their copy of the rootkit was downloaded deliberately with no intent of using it to harm the network, or if there's something seriously wrong. So you say "Sorry, no dancing-bunnies.exe on this part of the LAN. If you want to do virus research, do it at home, or, if we think you're smart enough, we'll give you a PC on the portion of the network that we've separated from the company LAN, and you can do research there without any risk of the dancing bunnies spreading to other users..."

And then you wipe the disk and reinstall the OS from a known good image.

The only reason classified information should appear on an unclassified machine is if there's a security breach. If every innocent download of dancing-bunnies.exe results in a nuke-and-reinstall on sight, your security researchers will stop doing it on the company LAN, eliminating the false positives.

Re:network ignorance (5, Insightful)

crashcy (2839507) | about 10 months ago | (#44132073)

Why target the Guardian then, except spite that they broke the story and had (or have) direct contact with Snowden? The information has already spread all over the internet, they can't block access to it all.
I don't know what the process is for officially declassifying the information, but I don't see how you can really call something that's public knowledge classified anymore.

Re:network ignorance (4, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#44132127)

I can see the Pentagon briefing now: "Clearly, the only obvious answer is to destroy the internet. Men, you have your orders! America...America...God shed his grace on thee..."

Re:network ignorance (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44132143)

It is unlikely to just be the Guardian, at least in the future if not now. If other sites have the stolen documents available they'll probably be blocked too.

Classified information remains classified until declassified. It may sound silly, but there are some practical reasons to do that.

Re:network ignorance (1)

octothorpe99 (34654) | about 10 months ago | (#44132345)

It may sound silly, but there are some practical reasons to do that.

Such as? (I'm really curious)

Re: network ignorance (4, Insightful)

mark_wilkins (687537) | about 10 months ago | (#44132455)

One good reason would be because not all disclosure of classified information is equally broad, and rather than defining some complex standard to determine whether the information is truly and completely out of the bag, they simply require evaluation according to a set process to declassify it.

Re:network ignorance (3, Insightful)

Rougement (975188) | about 10 months ago | (#44132555)

I'd imagine they blocked The Guardian as it's a British paper and so can't be leaned on like the bulk of US corporate media can. Also, their coverage is very well researched, comprehensive and persuasive. They don't want their personnel getting ideas. I also wouldn't rule out small-minded pettiness.

Re:network ignorance (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132103)

The problem is that it is NOT classified information anymore... or am I missing something?

Re:network ignorance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132149)

Classified information is not declassified just because it is made public! It still carries whatever classification was originally assigned to it until its classification is formally changed. If you work in an industry where classified information is present (ANY industry in the US, not just the military) and you access leaked classified information on an unclassified network (your phone, your home computer, etc.) then you are in violation of the rules. End of story. The Army isn't being stupid or trying to hide things, they are trying to protect their own people.

Re:network ignorance (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 10 months ago | (#44132247)

Classified information is not declassified just because it is made public! It still carries whatever classification was originally assigned to it until its classification is formally changed. If you work in an industry where classified information is present (ANY industry in the US, not just the military) and you access leaked classified information on an unclassified network (your phone, your home computer, etc.) then you are in violation of the rules. End of story. The Army isn't being stupid or trying to hide things, they are trying to protect their own people.

Of course, if they were really trying to protect their people, they could say that "Previously classified information that has been released to public news organizations and made publicly available may be accessed by military personnel with no repercussions." Do they really want their own personnel to be less informed than the general public? It's not like preventing soldiers from reading the information is going to keep it out of the hands of the "enemy".

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132317)

The Army doesn't have the authority to say that.

Re:network ignorance (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 10 months ago | (#44132399)

The Army doesn't have the authority to say that.

Then whoever classified the information and had such little control over it that a low level analyst contractor could walk out the door with thousands of pages of classified information should be saying it.

Re:network ignorance (4, Informative)

blueg3 (192743) | about 10 months ago | (#44132381)

Do they really want their own personnel to be less informed than the general public? It's not like preventing soldiers from reading the information is going to keep it out of the hands of the "enemy".

That's not what they're trying to do at all. It's a bureaucratic measure because they don't want any classified material -- regardless of how it was obtained -- stored on unclassified DoD computers. That avoids the problem of people finding it later and having to go through the whole procedure of figuring out how it got there. It's easier to take reasonable measures to keep classified material off the computers in the first place. (It's still kind of stupid, but at least it has a reason.)

Re:network ignorance (1)

RobertNotBob (597987) | about 10 months ago | (#44132415)

Of course, if they were really trying to protect their people, they could say that "Previously classified information that has been released to public news organizations and made publicly available may be accessed by military personnel with no repercussions." Do they really want their own personnel to be less informed than the general public? It's not like preventing soldiers from reading the information is going to keep it out of the hands of the "enemy".

Classification authority stems from Presidential Executive Order. The Army (or any other Government component) can not counter that.

...

That said... I agree; the POTUS should make that change.

More the shame that we haven't elected a slashdotter as President.

Re:network ignorance (3, Informative)

metiscus (1270822) | about 10 months ago | (#44132417)

Classification is carried out under the instructions in a series of executive orders, dating back to the early part of the 20th century, as well as the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage_Act_of_1917 [wikipedia.org].
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13526 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_12958 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13292 [wikipedia.org]

Re:network ignorance (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 10 months ago | (#44132461)

Except it hasn't been "released" to public news organizations. It was LEAKED. There is a formal release process, and it was NOT followed. The documents remain classified until formally declassified, at which point they MAY be released to the news or the public, at the discretion of the document owner. . .

Re:network ignorance (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44132499)

Of course, if they were really trying to protect their people, they could say that "Previously classified information that has been released to public news organizations and made publicly available may be accessed by military personnel with no repercussions.".

Of course, that means that anyone can declassify information by anonymously leaking it to the press.

Re:network ignorance (0)

fnj (64210) | about 10 months ago | (#44132109)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

Do you actually believe the NSA is that cussed stupid? The stuff they're talking about IS ALREADY ALL OVER THE INTERNET. Sorry, NSA, events have overtaken your classification system for this particular material. Actually, to the best I can determine, the Guardian has nothing of any substance whatsoever in terms of genuine security concerns; it's just information about information-gathering. This s about protecting asses.

Re:network ignorance (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44132147)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

umm but it manifests only as preventing employees from knowing.. or are they afraid chinese hackers who also can't get to guardian to get the information from their hacked network.

apparently it's their automatic filtering - but doesn't sound like too smart filtering unless it's meant to keep the troops from questioning legitimacy of some actions.
it is public information after all, available in printed form from any newsstand. sure, it was meant to be kept secret but can't put the cat back in the bag.

(btw if they keep a huge list of every classified information the filter is supposed to get.. then I have to ask, what the fuck and who the fuck designed the system)

Re:network ignorance (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 10 months ago | (#44132227)

This isn't about preventing employees from knowing. It's about keeping classified information off of unclassified networks.

Once it's made public, then what's the point of keeping it designated as "classified"? If it's already known to be in the hands of the public and the "bad guys", what possible justification is there for keeping it out of the hands of the "good guys"?

Re:network ignorance (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#44132429)

My guess is this is an IT problem for them. They likely have scripts that troll un-classified networks looking for keywords that would indicated classified material and gotten onto them. When they find one, they flag it and investigate. They've probably had a huge spike in hits because of this, with most of them leading back to the guardian. Until they update their scripts they probably thought the easiest solution was to block the website. Just a guess...

Re:network ignorance (5, Informative)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 10 months ago | (#44132089)

What they're referring to is blocking of site access on NIPRNet [wikipedia.org], which is the "unclass" side of US military network operations, but is still subject to additional scrutiny and a strict requirement that no information that has been classified be stored on connected systems. This is standard protocol bordering on the boring for office communications in the military, and is absolute non-news.

Nobody is actively working (well, okay, not openly working) to restrict communications viewed by active duty DoD personnel on their personal computers while utilizing Internet connections not-uplinked-in-the-barracks-or-other-stupid-places-where-you-know-your-traffic-is-being-logged-shipmate. Military personnel are keenly aware that they face serious legal penalties for improperly accessing and or disseminating classified materials. This is not difficult to understand.

It's worth noting that in this particular case, I firmly believe Snowden acted as a patriot and is absolutely not the traitor he's being painted as by the administration and various members of Congress. I say this as a former service member myself (Navy) who also held a TS/SCI clearance. This young man exposed wholesale disregard for our Constitution on a massive scale, and it's been happening at an increasing pace for about twenty years. I ardently hope he finds asylum somewhere safe.

Re:network ignorance (2)

Xest (935314) | about 10 months ago | (#44132207)

Is secret information still secret information if it's no longer secret?

Only in a mindless non-thinking bureaucracy could that ever be the case.

Re:network ignorance (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132337)

Is secret information still secret information if it's no longer secret?

Only in a mindless non-thinking bureaucracy could that ever be the case.

You're conflating classified with "secret" and that is your problem. While classified does usually impy "it's a secret from the likes of you and me" that's not what it means. What it means is, "The a fooking procedure for this data and you'd damned well better follow it, you are not qualified to make the decision that the procedure no longer applies; FOLLOW THE FOOKING PROCEDURE!"

There are people who actually get to make those decisions, their ass is on the line if they're wrong. If you weren't even qualified then your ass is grass regardless of whether you made "the right call" or not, because making any call at all was the wrong choice.

Get it now?

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132357)

Same AC, btw, this is non-news and happens every single time there is a leak of such nature. It really doesn't matter what the leak is about. It's about following the rules, which may be boring and seem insane, but frequently have saved lives.

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132341)

Like the word 'hacker', there is a difference between the technical use of the word and that used by the general public.

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132487)

Yes, it is. It's not declassified just because it leaked. It doesn't work that way.

Re:network ignorance (0, Troll)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 10 months ago | (#44132475)

Do you still feel that he's a "patriot" because whether willingly or not he told nations that are, ahem, "unfriendly" to the US about efforts to spy on them? How do you feel about the fact that whether he knows it or not, his laptops have almost certainly been copied by Russia and China? That information is a gold mine to them. He is no patriot simply because you get your panties in a wad over the NSA. He'll get his asylum and my gut feeling is that he'll never be held accountable for his treasonous, yes, treasonous actions. I'll just have to be content with the US government reducing the number of contractors who have the potential to do this kind of thing in the future.

Do you at least find it interesting that NOBODY in Russia or China has any secrets that they are willing to give Wikileaks? I hope you don't believe that those societies are so perfect that they have nothing untoward going on at all.

Re:network ignorance (1)

dintech (998802) | about 10 months ago | (#44132527)

Do you at least find it interesting that NOBODY in Russia or China has any secrets that they are willing to give Wikileaks? I hope you don't believe that those societies are so perfect that they have nothing untoward going on at all.

What's that got to do with holding yourself to a higher standard?

Re:network ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132367)

Are they going turn off the TV for them, too?

No reason to turn off TV. There's nothing of intelligence ever shown....

Re:network ignorance (1)

GigaBurglar (2465952) | about 10 months ago | (#44132419)

[quote]Are they going turn off the TV for them, too?[/quote]

That would be the best thing that could happen to society as a whole to be honest.

And I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44131969)

...welcome our American overlords.

They lied, even to their own people (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44131991)

Not only did NSA chief General Keith Alexander lie to the people, he lied to Congress, he lied to the President, and of course they don't want the foot soldier knowing the lie.

Push comes to shove, everyone of your foot soldiers should remember that you swore an oath to defend the constitution, not the crook at the top.

Re:They lied, even to their own people (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132121)

Which is why I chose to not re-enlist. Granted, my re-enlistment window was over a year ago (before this all came out), but what I saw our elected officials doing made me realize they were a greater threat to our freedom and constitution than any terrorist would ever be... I couldn't in good conscience swear an oath to defend the constitution from both enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC, and sleep well at night knowing I was breaking that oath every day I marched in step to the idiots that are leading our country into the "dustbin of history." I know Ronald Reagan isn't the most popular president here on Slashdot, but here is a very cogent remark he made:

“Someone once said that every form of government has one characteristic peculiar to it and if that characteristic is lost, the government will fall. In a monarchy, it is affection and respect for the royal family. If that is lost the monarch is lost. In a dictatorship, it is fear. If the people stop fearing the dictator he'll lose power. In a representative government such as ours, it is virtue. If virtue goes, the government fails. Are we choosing paths that are politically expedient and morally questionable? Are we in truth losing our virtue? . . . If so, we may be nearer the dustbin of history than we realize.”

Re:They lied, even to their own people (4, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#44132173)

I seriously doubt NSA lied to the President. And they only lied to Congress because they knew that the Congressmen didn't really give a shit and were just putting on a nice show for the cameras. If they had thought for a second that Congress might actually follow up on their answers (or that the press even had the ABILITY to follow up), they would have parsed their language much more carefully.

Re:They lied, even to their own people (2)

SmokeyRobot (1635139) | about 10 months ago | (#44132437)

And they only lied to Congress because they knew that the Congressmen didn't really give a shit and were just putting on a nice show for the cameras

Regardless of your rationalization someone cannot lie to Congress under oath. It is a crime of perjury and one that got a former President partially impeached.

Re:They lied, even to their own people (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#44132483)

Well, in that case, better send the Congressional Police to arrest him!! They can put him in Congressional Jail with the many, many others who've lied to Congress and been prosecuted for it.

Re:They lied, even to their own people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132521)

Sure people can lie congress, they do it every day. The key is what happens when if they get caught, but there is nothing stopping them from doing it up front.

Re: They lied, even to their own people (1)

mark_wilkins (687537) | about 10 months ago | (#44132537)

Assuming you're referring to Bill Clinton, he was fully impeached (a function of the House of Representatives, analogous to indictment), but then not removed from office by the Senate. The article of impeachment that passed accused him of lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice, but not lying under oath to Congress.

OxyMORON (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44131993)

How is anything in the public domain classified?

Re:OxyMORON (1)

fnj (64210) | about 10 months ago | (#44132153)

How is anything in the public domain classified?

I suppose the NSA could classify the fact that Clorox bleach plus ammonia makes POISON GAS. Just about every man, woman and child on the planet already knows it, but I am not aware of any limit to what they can arbitrarily classify.

Re:OxyMORON (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132391)

Yeah but what's the point? It feels deeply wrong, denialism just a couple steps aways from madness.

Common sense, where art thou?

When something is published, is it still secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44131997)

Oh wait, I forget, this is called propaganda.

Re:When something is published, is it still secret (3, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44132051)

The answer to your question is yes. Classified information remains classified until declassified.

ha ha (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44131999)

We get it, that it's routine. We understand why you do it. Yes, we know the law has that technicality.

It's still stupid, anyway, and it makes you look stupid. It's how you know something is wrong, and the wrongness is with you, army.

Our Source was the Guardian (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132001)

General: That's a load of Commie bull and an obvious Commie trick.
President: It's absolute madness.
Russian Ambassador: There were those of us who fought against this. But in the end, we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time, our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our Doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we'd been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a Doomsday gap.
President: This is preposterous! I've never approved of anything like that!
Russian Ambassador: Our source was the New York Times.

1984 is finally here (3, Insightful)

DougDot (966387) | about 10 months ago | (#44132009)

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Although admittedly, we've had the ignorance bit down for quite a while.

Rules are rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132017)

Doesn't make them smart. In this case they can't distinguish between external, informally declassified data and internal, formally classified data. How unfortunate.

A real distinction, which they're bungling (5, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 10 months ago | (#44132067)

I worked for a military contractor once and was told that there was a good reason not to talk about classified material even after it appeared in the press. Our enemies couldn't be sure that the press reports were right, not without confirmation from classified sources.

The military has now done what I was told not to, confirming the authenticity of the Guardian report.

Re:A real distinction, which they're bungling (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 10 months ago | (#44132203)

Our enemies couldn't be sure that the press reports were right, not without confirmation from classified sources.

I approve of your choice of words. That's exactly how they see every single person, everywhere. Guilty until proven innocent.

Re:A real distinction, which they're bungling (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44132407)

You are crossing two streams there: enemy and guilty. Guilt or innocence is a legal question. Enemy or friendly is generally a political / military question.

When an enemy in war kills someone but acts in accordance with the law of war, there is no question of guilt or innocent since there is no crime.
When an enemy in war kills someone but doesn't act in accordance with the law of war, they may be guilty of a war crime.
When a citizen kills at any time, they may be guilty of a crime, but unless they align with the enemy, they are not the enemy.

Citizens are not considered the enemy unless they go pretty far out of their way to earn that distinction.

Confusion over this point has led to many heated and misguided discussions.

Re:A real distinction, which they're bungling (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 10 months ago | (#44132271)

The military has now done what I was told not to, confirming the authenticity of the Guardian report.

The President and the Director of National Intelligence had already confirmed that authenticity of the source materials presented in the Guardian report when they claimed that the Guardian story was misleading on the program because it presented information from that source material selectively and out of context.

So there is nothing confirmed by blocking access to it that hasn't already been confirmed at the highest levels.

Re:A real distinction, which they're bungling (1)

odigity (266563) | about 10 months ago | (#44132281)

Our enemies couldn't be sure that the press reports were right...

I hate that phrase.

You may feel you have enemies, but don't include me in your paranoid collectivist delusion. Whoever you think your enemies are, they aren't mine.

Lastly, to any thug in a costume who claims to be fighting on behalf of my freedom/safety/whatever: You're not. I didn't ask you to. Please stop being violent and evil in my name.

Re:A real distinction, which they're bungling (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about 10 months ago | (#44132387)

Evil. I hate that word. It implies a objective good vs evil, which I see no evidence for. To my mind what people see as evil is chance or a biological/neurological defect.

Better reasons for treating it as classified. (1)

pavon (30274) | about 10 months ago | (#44132543)

Any question over the legitimacy of these documents has long since been resolved. The information is out there, and at least some of it (the official documents at least if not Snowden's commentary) is confirmed to be accurate. You can't put that cat back in the bag, so the military is not revealing anything by blocking those sites - especially since the block is broad and doesn't shed any light on whether specific portions of what was said is accurate.

The other (and arguably more important) purpose for continuing to treat classified information as classified until it is officially declassified is to prevent disclosure of even more secrets. Without doing a carefull study of exactly what has been released, what has become widely spread and confirmed or not, and how it impacts the mission at a high level, you are highly likely to inadvertantly reveal (or confirm, or draw associations between) other sensitive information.

There are lots of ways this can become complicated really fast. Someone working on some portion of a project may not realize why some information about another part is sensitive since it is harmless information for their part of the project. The leak itself may result in a change in what is classified. For example if X and Y are completely non-sensitive on their own but combined allow you to infer Z which is classified, it is customary to pick one of them to treat as classifed to protect Z, while the other remains FOUO. If X was being treated as classified and is now leaked, but Y and Z are still secret, then it may be prudent to start treating Y as classified going forward. It is also possible that even though a specific detail has been leaked, the enemy didn't understand it's significance or what it meant at all due to lack of context, so it does make sense to continue treating it as classified, even though it is already in the "public".

So until someone has carefully considered all these factors, developed a new classification guide, trained everyone on the new guide, and resolved any ambiguities that come up while implementing the new guidelines, it really does make sense to continue treating the leaked information as classified. Even if "common sense" might make you think it is a pointless exercise.

PS: This is a justification of the rules regarding legitimately classified information. I am not justifying the fact that these surveilence programs existed, or that their existance was classified in violation of the 4th ammendment.

Re:Rules are rules (1)

fnj (64210) | about 10 months ago | (#44132179)

Doesn't make them smart. In this case they can't distinguish between external, informally declassified data and internal, formally classified data. How unfortunate.

An organization with any sanity would have its rules set up so it does not need to block any publicly accessible point in the internet just to satisfy some stupid rule.

Google too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132025)

What about Google cache. Are they going to block that too?

Trust your government (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#44132031)

"Collection and analysis of content is NSA's traditional way of reporting SIGINT. Content generally refers to words spoken during a telephone conversation or the written text of an email message. NSA collection of the content of telephony and Internet communications under the PSP improved its ability to produce intelligence on terrorist-related activity. For example, by allowing NSA access to links carrying communications with one end in the United States, NSA significantly increased its access to transiting foreign communications, ie, with both communicants outside the United States. General Hayden described this as "the real gold of the Program"..."

Taken from one of the leaked documents. But yeah, it's only metadata we promise.

Re:Trust your government (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44132435)

You don't suppose that the NSA just might have more than one program targeted at different types of communication, with each having its own method?

I hear a Sousa march in the background - (3, Insightful)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about 10 months ago | (#44132043)

How about the Washington Post? Is the Army also blocking access to 'the newspaper of record for the Federal government"?

Re:I hear a Sousa march in the background - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132125)

That Sousa march you're hearing is "The Liberty Bell" [wikipedia.org].

Re:I hear a Sousa march in the background - (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 10 months ago | (#44132331)

For some reason am I envisioning the Army brass behind this dressing up to pretend they're Patton, and then quietly playing some bagpipe music while blasting Stars and Stripes Forever as they (and probably their tired and demoralized aides) marching in circles around their offices.

Of course you wouldn't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132053)

...this is standard operating procedure. It is classified information that still should not be accessible on a lower classified network. Access to the Internet would be on unclassified networks, which by definition is a lower classified network. So, yes, this is non news.

Re:Of course you wouldn't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132081)

Before other trolls come through; yes, the info can still be accessed by those service members elsewhere but the DoD isn't going to have policies in place for its service members and employees to do something in conflict with their clearance on government owned equipment.

Of course, if you think Snowden is a "*hero*" then nothing I just said will be coherent.

Wishful Thinking... (1, Informative)

tibit (1762298) | about 10 months ago | (#44132065)

As in: we wish the problem would just go away. Wish wish, shoo shoo, go away problem!

The source of this madness comes from the regulations that were intended to be applied in an entirely different scenario. An unclassified computer could be used to store classified data that wasn't leaked yet, so the rule was there to protect the information from leaking out in the first place. Of course the geniuses who wrote the rules didn't think of massive leaks where tens or even hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents can be read on a newspaper's website. Heck, when the rules were put into place, there were no websites. That's the problem here: applying rules that simply don't make any sense whatsoever in a given scenario. According to the rules, they really need to nuke all of the Guardian's servers from the orbit, and drop incendiary bombs on the homes of all of the poor saps who accessed this stuff.

Re:Wishful Thinking... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#44132481)

I have yet to see anything leak from a print newspaper onto my computer.

If you had a classified document from a website publishing those documents, how would they guarantee that is the source for your document? Since the document is still classified even if publicly available, why do you have it on that computer?

The rule isn't that they bomb the Guardian's servers and the homes of people accessing those documents. Blocking access to the servers and warning government employees and contractors will do.

China feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132119)

This is just like China, but in the "country of freedom".
Hey kid, what about some freedom?
Here, have your freedom...

Words (2)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about 10 months ago | (#44132129)

Ah, I see... So this is an action that tries to illustrate blocking, destruction, and punishment are completely common actions when it comes to "classified" data.

I guess that means that any actions taken against people and/or organizations in the *future* can be treated as, "Hey, this is what happens all the time. You didn't know that?"

Nice move, government. Very childish and hackneyed, but still... Bravo.

I find it incredibly depressing... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132167)

To see the knee-jerk comments on this story in the tech news. I honestly thought that the collective inteligence level of the people who read tech news was a little higher.

The DoD is not trying to censor what service men and women see. No one is saying that they cannot go look at these websites from their own personal omputers. What is going on, is that the DoD is trying to prevent CLASSIFIED data from being loaded onto, looked at, and stored in the caches of UNCLASSIFIED government owned computers, something refered to as spillage. I'm staying out of the argument on legal precendet about classified data in the public domain, the government says the data is still classified, so if it ends up on an unclas system, that system has to be wiped, sometimes a great expense.

No one could care less if military members looked at whatever they want to at home, but the computers that they use at work belong to the government and thus the government can dictate what can and cannot be viewed on those computers. Just like the comouter and network at a civilian place of employment, your employer can dictate what you can and cannot use your company owned computer to do.

Re:I find it incredibly depressing... (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 10 months ago | (#44132335)

As one of the militaried greatest detractors, I agree completely with your take on it. This is not some boneheaded attempted to put their head in the sand. No, this is just a hamfisted application of blind policy.

This is really more like the military version of "Office Space" than anything else.

Lt. Lumberg: "Um yah, didn't you get the memo about the classified documents? They can't be on machines that are not authorized or accessed by unauthorized people"
Pvt Gibbons: "Yes I saw the memo, and I understand the policy, but this was public information I downloaded it from the Gaurdian"
Lt Lumberg: "Ah yah, its just that we are not storing classified documents on unauthorized machines. I will send you another copy of that memo."

Re:I find it incredibly depressing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132519)

Please explain this [powerlineblog.com] then.

The military has actively attempted to censor what their troops read, and the above just came out earlier this month. You all are trying to covering up censorship because you agree with it. If it happened once, you might be believed, but now we have a pattern of this behavior from the DOD. You are equal to Ms. Learner from the IRS claiming that the IRS only targeted a couple of people from one office, research today shows that NO group with the name "tea party" in it got tax exempt status for over 2 years, thats 100% suppression by the IRS and they lied about it just like you are doing now.

it's classified - for our enemies only! (2)

juliuszs (1269402) | about 10 months ago | (#44132187)

There is stupid, then there is "Army stupid". Now, "DoD stupid needs to be even better.

Missing the point (1)

quiet_guy (681438) | about 10 months ago | (#44132237)

The US military stance is that the documents are _still_ classified. Yes, they've been leaked - but were never actually declassified.
So if you hit a website that posts photos/scans/whatever of any of the leaked stuff (complete with classification markings), you are viewing classified material on an unclassified computer.
Which by definition, is "spillage." Unnatural acts are then required to sanitize your machine.

Seeing leaks may suggest an idea of leaking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132243)

And that's why tyrants and military try to keep their people from seeing the opposition's opinions or leaks.

Labor intensive? (1)

webdog314 (960286) | about 10 months ago | (#44132245)

"'Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in "labor intensive" work..."

Or, you know, they could just 'de-classify' the information... since it's already out there. Problem solved. Nobody needs to face disciplinary action.

Re:Labor intensive? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 10 months ago | (#44132423)

That's not their decision to make. A different part of the executive could declassify it, sure, but in the meantime, the DoD is just dealing with the bureaucratic reality of regulations concerning classified data.

Classified? (2)

Bugler412 (2610815) | about 10 months ago | (#44132261)

If it appears on The Guardian, I think any classification is rather moot at this point isn't it? This is more about restraint of a news outlet than protecting classified information.

Great DoS attack (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 10 months ago | (#44132301)

This would make a great DoS attack against the military:

Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in "labor intensive" work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer's hard drive

All a hacker needs to do is hack some website commonly used by the military (army.mil?) and post some leaked classified information on it, or send an email blast to army.mil email addresses with the classified information, and the Army will be forced to wipe thousands of computers, and maybe discipline soldiers for having classified information on their insecure computer (rules, are rules, right?)

What was leaked wasn't TOO bad... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#44132303)

... But the government blocking a newspaper because they don't agree with what it published? That's fucking totalitarian, military or no.

Re:What was leaked wasn't TOO bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132439)

Actually, they are blocking access from Army workstations. The site isn't down.

U.S.S.A (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 10 months ago | (#44132321)

Monitoring all communications
Locking people up without a trial
Blocking journalism
Disappearing dissidents
Murdering civilians.

Not too long before that Second Amendment for a well-regulated Militia is needed. Good luck America. You gave the world dreams and put a man on the moon. You were awesome.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132351)

So we are China now?

The army is not for thinkers with conscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132383)

Soldier shouldnt rhink, they just obey what the are told to do.

Of course they are! (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | about 10 months ago | (#44132389)

Of course the army is going to block access to the guardian. There have been several stories published there that prove the US government is listening to the private phone calls of the troops, including tape recording their phone sex and passing it around the office as entertainment.

Army officials are then quoted in the same articles as saying that the troops should know that their phone calls are not private.

I mean really, who wants the troops to know this and be all demoralized and shit, we need to spy on their sex lives in SECRET god damn you Glenn Greenwald.

And the cover up continues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132393)

period

Before you start with the "USA Are Commies" thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44132505)

There are 2 different types of networks inside a base. One of them is for classified communications, the other is for non-classified communications.

There are 2 different types of computers inside a base. One type is for classified communications and documents, the other is for non-classified communications/documents.

If for some crazy reason classified information ends up on a computer that is only allowed to handle non-classified information, a "spill" is declared... and it is a MESS to clean up. The IT team has to pull that computer off the network -- and basically destroy it. It is EXPENSIVE and TIME CONSUMING.

Even though these documents are in the public domain, they are still considered CLASSIFIED unless they are officially de-classified. If these classified documents end up on a computer that is of type that can only handle non-classified documents, the user has to declare a "spill" and go through the entire process of destroying that computer.

So, knock it off with the "USA are commies" BS. There is a really good reason the Army put a block on accessing the Guardian. It's not to censor... it is to protect their infrastructure and save time and money.

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