Anyone in the U.S. Army hoping to keep up with the latest about the NSA leaks being published by the Guardian and other outlets will need to do it on their own time, and from their own personal computer. A military spokesman yesterday confirmed anecdotal reports that access to the British newspaper’s NSA coverage—along with similar reporting elsewhere—had been blocked Army-wide, telling the the Herald of Monterey County that the decision was a routine “network hygiene” measure to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information. (Basically, in the eyes of the Defense Department, classified information remains classified even after it’s been published far and wide on the Internet.)
[Update at 1:20 p.m.: US News reports the restrictions actually extend to all DoD computers, not just those belonging to the Army.]
Here’s the Herald with more from its local base:
Sources at the Presidio said Jose Campos, the post’s information assurance security officer, sent an email to employees early Thursday saying The Guardian’s website was blocked by Army Cyber Command “in order to prevent an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” … 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.
The U.S. government has taken similar preventative measures before, blocking access to WikiLeaks and its mirror sites back in 2010 to prevent classified information from ending up on nonclassified computers.