Ignorance is bliss for the US military

Ryan Gallagher has unearthed a directive from the US military that tells their members not to read any news item from Gallagher’s news operation The Intercept. The directive states:

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.

This infantilizing of military people is not going down well with those being treated like children.

A military insider subject to the ban said that several employees expressed concerns after being told by commanders that it was “illegal and a violation of national security” to read publicly available news reports on The Intercept.

“Even though I have a top secret security clearance, I am still forbidden to read anything on the website,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. “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.”

It is significant that Gallagher has a source who is willing, even anonymously, to talk to a reporter at the very publication that he is not supposed to read.

This directive reveals two interesting fears that the US government has. One is that there exists another leaker. The other is that if their own people know more about what their government is doing, it may encourage even more defections. Not exactly a vote of confidence of their own ranks.


  1. Spiffy45 says

    Yup, that’s the way that the rules work. When Wikileaks published Chelsea Manning’s information, we were not allowed to view the Wikileaks website on government unclassified computers.

  2. lochaber says

    ha. I remember when I was deployed with USMC, we got all our info from the married Marines, who got it from their wives back home. Not sure where the wives got their info from, but it was generally more accurate and reliable then anything we got from our command (if they even told us anything…)

  3. karmacat says

    I work at the VA and we got a memo a while ago saying we will be blocked from looking at wikileaks on our computers at work. I was so tempted to respond and say, “You do know we have computers and the internet at home?” But I figured the powers that be would not appreciate my sarcasm

  4. says

    They have never heard of the Streisand effect, apparently. “OH, I’m not supposed to go to Wikileaks? I’ll check it out on my smart phone, right here… Dumbass…”

  5. says

    I wonder if those searching for security leaks are prohibited from looking at such sites. It would be entirely unsurprising if they are.

  6. says

    Not uniquely crazy.
    I recall Rod Adams on his Atomic Insights blog, writing about how when he was training to help run the US Navy nuclear submarines, ALL the course material was stamped secret, including information like the Laws of Thermodynamics.

  7. Justanotheruser says

    I am in the submarine force and have gone through the nuclear training pipeline. jimbaerg is mostly correct about the training material, it was all stamped CONFIDENTIAL. Everything from reactor operation and construction to basic math and physics was classified.

    I have not been given any instructions from my command regarding The Guardian and I have been there a few times myself. It is true that we are not supposed to view classified material without the need know, even if it is leaked to the public domain. We are supposed to report it so it can be investigated and/or taken down. Bad idea to look at that stuff on government computers. On home computers, however, that is what proxies and full disc encryption are for 😉

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    This infantilizing of military people is not going down well …

    They need to get used to it, as of centuries ago.

    Consider the root of that word infantry, to start with.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    justanotheruser @ # 8: On home computers, however, that is what proxies and full disc encryption are for …

    No, those are for red-flagging your file so you get the extra personal attention (they think) you deserve…

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