Print 28 comment(s) - last by Lerianis.. on Dec 26 at 10:46 AM

The military has banned USB drives, CDs, and DVDs from SIPRNET-computers, under threat of court-martial. The military had long allowed such items under a policy of trust, until a shocking betrayal by one of its own made it rethink that policy.  (Source: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michelle Waters, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Crackdown comes in the wake of Wikileaks debacle

On Friday, December 3, 2010 the U.S. military rolled out a strict set of changes to try to prevent leaks of classified missions information to foreign sources. 

Excerpts of a memo published in Wired magazine's Danger Room blog are attributed to Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations.  The memo states that airmen will "immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET."

Similar memos went out to members of the other U.S. military branches.  Failure to comply could lead to a court-martial.  States the memo, "Users will experience difficulty with transferring data for operational needs which could impede timeliness on mission execution...[but] military personnel who do not comply … may be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Article 92 covers disciplinary action for refusing to obey orders which it describes "shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." 

SIPRNET is the name for a U.S. government digital documents warehouse, which some government and military computers can access.  An estimated two million U.S. citizens have at least partial access to its contents, but they are legally bound to keep the information secret.  Up until recently, the government's policy of trust worked pretty effectively.

The recent provisions may seem severe, but they're understandable in the wake of the worst breach of secrecy in the U.S. military history.  U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning, a disgruntled private who had been demoted, used his access to SIPRNET to steal hundreds of thousands of U.S. military and State Department documents, which he passed to Wikileaks.  Mr. Manning burned the secrets to discs, which were labeled "Lady Gaga" -- and appropriately contained tracks by the artist as a cover.

That led to many of those documents being published by international news outlets, or by Wikileaks itself.  Some leaks have raised questions of wrongdoing (for example memos detailing civilian casualties), but some experts say that such attitudes are only the result of hyperscrutiny.  They argue that the published documents reveal that the Iraq and Afghanistan efforts were surprisingly clean as far as wars come.

More recent leaks of State Department secrets like undisclosed illnesses of world leaders or a list of top targets for terrorists to attack the U.S. have been embarrassing for the U.S.

The military has been struggling with how it should react.

Aside from the recent ban on media connected to SIPRNET computers, 60 percent of the computers are now monitored by a remote surveillance system.  Dubbed Host Based Security System, this system keeps a watchful eye for suspicious activity. 

Editorials at some news outlets (CNN) have dubbed the scuffle between Wikileaks and the U.S. government, "the first cyberwar".  Regardless of whether this label is hyperbole, or close to reality, the U.S. military is certainly trying to steel itself against future unintended releases.


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Typical response
By roykahn on 12/15/2010 4:25:48 AM , Rating: 2
This new security policy is exactly what a corrupt organisation does in response to leaked information. It's pretty much the same response that was taken when the Abu Ghraib torturing was revealed. Basically, there will be a continuation of lawlessness by those in power while better securing the information that could provide proof of illegal and immoral activities. If that's the only response that America can come up with after the scandals that Wikileaks helped reveal, then it's an absolute failure of democracy. Those who abuse power will now only be better protected from accountability and justice.

RE: Typical response
By Lerianis on 12/15/2010 6:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
True. I pity those people who think that government has to have secrets. They are OUR EMPLOYEES! Are the people doing jobs for private organizations allowed to have secrets from their employers when it impacts on them doing their jobs?

Hell no, they aren't!

It's time to put the same standards on government officials, and tell them "Redact and release EVERYTHING immediately after an operation is concluded. If you don't like that Americans will take issue with what you did? You shouldn't have damned well done what you did!"

RE: Typical response
By roykahn on 12/15/2010 3:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Some secrets are ok to have. The problem is that there are far too many and they often protect those who abuse power and engage in illegal and immoral activities.

Contrary to what many believe, Wikileaks did not release all the leaked documents relating to Iraq, Afghanistan, and diplomatic cables. Some sensitive information was withheld to protect the innocent. Although, that filtering process can't always be perfect.

RE: Typical response
By Lerianis on 12/26/2010 10:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
No, no secrets are okay to have, when you are the EMPLOYEES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!
If they want to keep something secret, they had better well justify it to the American people beforehand.
I look at government wanting secrets as a sign that they are doing something that we wouldn't agree with and which could put them in prison.

You are also right in that Wikileaks didn't release all documents, and they are redacting as they go in order to protect people and assets, if there are any in danger by releasing the documents non-redacted.

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