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Ear to the Ground

Pentagon Forbids Military Personnel to Read News Website

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Posted on Aug 21, 2014

    A redacted portion of an email warning military employees to avoid The Intercept. Image by The Intercept

Citing claims of a potential “new leaker,” the U.S. military has blocked and banned its employees from visiting The Intercept, the NSA-focused investigative news website founded by Glenn Greenwald and Pierre Omidyar.

Ryan Gallagher reports Wednesday at The Intercept:

According to multiple military sources, a notice has been circulated to units within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps warning staff that they are prohibited from reading stories published by The Intercept on the grounds that they may contain classified information. The ban appears to apply to all employees—including those with top-secret security clearance—and is aimed at preventing classified information from being viewed on unclassified computer networks, even if it is freely available on the internet. Similar military-wide bans have been directed against news outlets in the past after leaks of classified information.

A directive issued to military staff at one location last week, obtained by The Intercept, threatens that any employees caught viewing classified material in the public domain will face “long term security issues.” It suggests that the call to prohibit employees from viewing the website was made by senior officials over concerns about a “potential new leaker” of secret documents.

The directive reads:

We have received information from our higher headquarters regarding a potential new leaker of classified information.  Although no formal validation has occurred, we thought it prudent to warn all employees and subordinate commands.  Please do not go to any website entitled “The Intercept” for it may very well contain classified material.

As a reminder to all personnel who have ever signed a non-disclosure agreement, we have an ongoing responsibility to protect classified material in all of its various forms.  Viewing potentially classified material (even material already wrongfully released in the public domain) from unclassified equipment will cause you long term security issues.  This is considered a security violation.

The Intercept quoted an anonymous source close to the military and subject to the ban as saying, “Even though I have a top secret security clearance, I am still forbidden to read anything on the website. … I find this very disturbing that they are threatening us and telling us what websites and news publishers we are allowed to read or not.”

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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