Army blocks internal access to Guardian’s UK website over Snowden leaks?

posted at 11:21 am on June 28, 2013 by Allahpundit

I understand that they have the authority to do this. They did it a few years ago, in fact, when the Guardian and the New York Times started publishing Wikileaks stuff. What I don’t understand is why they’d want to do it. Is the value to the Army of blacking out the Guardian greater than the value of the PR they’re handing to Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald?

The Army admitted Thursday to not only restricting access to The Guardian news website at the Presidio of Monterey, as reported in Thursday’s Herald, but Armywide…

Gordon Van Vleet, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative “network hygiene” measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information…

Presidio employees described how they could access the U.S. site, www.guardiannews.com, but were blocked from articles, such as those about the NSA, that redirected to the British site.

Greenwald, naturally, was accepting high-fives on Twitter upon hearing the news:

Question for Army veterans: How hard would it be for you to get around a blackout of this sort? It’d be hard in the field, I assume, since your access to communications (probably?) runs exclusively through the Army. But if you’re stationed somewhere outside a war zone, this is as simple as pulling up the Guardian on your cell phone under your private data plan, right?

The goal here seems to be to strike a symbolic blow for keeping secrets secret by refusing to allow Army servers to carry stories about Snowden’s leaks, even though the rest of the world has access to them. That information was supposed to be classified, and the Army’s going to formally honor that classification by not lending its own network to the effort to publicize the info. As always with a blackout, though, it risks driving more people to the material by piquing their curiosity; more than that, it plays into the Snowden/Greenwald point about the state’s desperation to hide the fact of its own surveillance. In no real sense can you black out information that’s accessible on most computers in the free world, but you can stage a symbolic yet almost certainly futile blackout inside your own institution. Like I say, is it worth doing that given the PR benefits to the other side? If it is, why hasn’t the rest of the federal government (or the other service branches) imposed a similar blackout? Or have they?

Maybe there’s more to it than just a symbolic blackout. Could be that the Army’s worried about potential leakers within the ranks — and who could blame them after Bradley Manning? — and they don’t want to make it any easier for those people either to be inspired by Snowden or, possibly, to piece something bigger together by combining what they know with what Snowden’s revealed. The problem with that theory is that a potential leaker is the most likely sort of servicemen to seek out info on Snowden. He won’t be stopped by restrictions on the service’s computers. He’ll get it through some other means, so this is no barrier to leakers realistically. What am I missing here?


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Transparency!!!

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM

The orgies continue.

Suffocate media. It ain’t Beluga caviar, fools.

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Obama is “Bushhitler”, on steroids, and continues to be to this day.

The NSA still tracks your personal data.

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM

You are still being tracked.

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Funny, I just linked something about this, and it’s not posting:

How the NSA is still harvesting your online data

Files show vast scale of current NSA metadata programs, with one stream alone celebrating ‘one trillion records processed’

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Remember when the Soviets & communist China used to block out the US Press from reaching their people?

portlandon on June 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Allahpundit, there’s a huge problem with clean-up after classified info goes public. It’s basically procedure for govt to not only restrict websites that have the potential of publicizing classified information, but to warn active users of govt systems that accessing such websites can render their own systems compromised. I could tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you. ~ RD

RumblinDurango on June 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

The US gov’t, the military, are like this chick, who cleaned up her not-so-glorious Twitter entries, the day before she appeared as a witnes…

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

You are not allowed to view classified information on an unclassified network. Just because classified information has been illegally leaked to the press does not mean that it has been declassified. I don’t know what it is about this that people find so difficult to understand.

Hayabusa on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

The US gov’t, the military, are like this chick, who cleaned up her not-so-glorious Twitter entries, the day before she appeared as a witnes…

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

That explains why they don’t uphold the Constitution. It’s written in cursive.

Snort.

Resist We Much on June 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I don’t know what it is about this that people find so difficult to understand.

Hayabusa on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I’ll clarify it for you – hypocrisy – this admin. was going to be “the most transparent in history”.

Alas, they are. What they meant by “transparency” was “we will destroy the US, in plain sunshine”.

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM

That explains why they don’t uphold the Constitution. It’s written in cursive.

Snort.

Resist We Much on June 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM

:) What a symbol of all that’s wrong with the US that dumb chick is.

btw, did you see Legend’s extraordinary compliment to you (being many of you in one)? – see Rubio immigration final speech thread, penultimate column.

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Wow. They really want to validate Snowden’s revelations and people’s concurrent suspicions, don’t they?

Good. Keep digging your own grave, you statist slime, and take bluegill and the rest with you.

MadisonConservative on June 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Is this like burning books?

Are we sure the border fence isn’t to keep us in?

faraway on June 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

and they don’t want to make it any easier for those people either to be inspired by Snowden or, possibly, to piece something bigger together by combining what they know with what Snowden’s revealed.

Did they ever disclose how Snowden got access to the documents?

Hot Gas on June 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

O/T Breaking:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 22-17 Friday that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during a hearing last month on the agency’s tea party targeting scandal.

This should be interesting.

joekenha on June 28, 2013 at 11:49 AM

The government would try not to confirm any details about the leaked information. News site weblogs for certain stories filling up with DoD IP addresses could serve to confirm the importance of certain pieces of info that have not been disclosed officially.

sweetlipsbutterhoney on June 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM

If it was up to the military everyone would be living in a 1984-type world. Ever lived on a military post lately?

albill on June 28, 2013 at 11:51 AM

My God, people. They are accumulating a list of who is paying attention to the Guardian website. They have that list now.

Seriously, people have no idea how much simplistic information can tell you about someone’s behavior. It puts people in certain places at certain times, it establishes patterns, locations, and more. It is extremely powerful.

While the Army’s action may be legal, don’t kid yourself about their intentions to very quickly put leakers in harm’s way.

HopeHeFails on June 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM

We only publish news the government deems fit to print. Welcome to Amerika comrades…you voted for this crap sandwich now you get to eat it.

trs on June 28, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Allah,

Not only does the military have the right — they have the obligation. While you or I might be free to go read the Guardian, the materials the Guardian is offering is still considered classified, and until the classification authority (ultimately the President) declassifies it, the Army is obligated to shield such materials from those who do not have “a need to know”.

Snowden has more than dug his grave, so to speak — by revealing sources and methods to the Chinese (and, I believe now, to the Russians), and by spreading the material as “protection”, he has proven his intent to harm the United States.

Good. Keep digging your own grave, you statist slime, and take bluegill and the rest with you.

MadisonConservative on June 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM

We are at war. And metadata which is the property of the telcos is fair game in trying to win that war. I fly a lot, and if you think that having the metadata surrounding your phone calls available to all and sundry, then consider what I and everyone else who fles about has to go through every time we board an airplane.

You remind me of the America Firsters — that pre-WWII group who were so concerned about our local liberties that they were willing to allow the Nazis free reign in the rest of the world. Unlike them, you apparently did not disband on 9/12 (the day after Pearl Harbor).

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who insist on absolute liberty at the expense of security will soon have neither.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

It’s protocol. A NIPR computer must never contain classified info, only SIPR computers can contain classified info and never shall the two machines talk to each other, let alone share the same network, let alone the same room or desk in most cases. Period.

By going to a site that hosts classified info, the work NIPR pc is compromised. Period.

We are talking about work computers after all. Everytime an employee boots up or logs in, he is agreeing to maintain system integrity. Period.

AH_C on June 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Not only does the military have the right — they have the obligation. While you or I might be free to go read the Guardian, the materials the Guardian is offering is still considered classified, and until the classification authority (ultimately the President) declassifies it, the Army is obligated to shield such materials from those who do not have “a need to know”.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

It was explained in detail elsewhere that automatic filters detect the classified material and the blockage happens. It is not because of the stories, it is the content.

The cell phone question is silly – they do not block personal devices – only computers on their networks.

This is one of those ‘Look a squirrel’ articles. Our government does not think they are doing anything wrong gathering all this phone / email data on innocent people without cause. There needs to be serious education on what the constitution means.

TerryW on June 28, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Remember when the Soviets & communist China used to block out the US Press from reaching their people?
portlandon on June 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM

China still restricts access to media/internet. A search from there on “Tiananmen Square”, for example, leads nowhere – you have to use Hong Kong’s Google to get any info that’s not state approved.

But your point us good because all the censorship accomplishes is to make forbidden fruit seem even sweeter. Besides, it’s not as if there is no other reportage on the details of this – so it’s not just bad PR, it’s an exercise in futility.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:22 PM

accessible on most computers in the free world

DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM

What I don’t understand is why they’d want to do it.

It’s not just the Army. Other government agencies are also blocking access to the sites (they just don’t issue press releases announcing the fact). The reasons were explained very well by RumblinDurango on June 28, 2013 at 11:34 AM, Hayabusa on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM, and AH_C on June 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM.

They are not saying “You cannot access this information.” They are just saying “You cannot access this information from government owned computers.” Anyone with a security clearance (which includes most of the military)understand this fact.

RoadRunner on June 28, 2013 at 12:24 PM

I understand that they have the authority to do this. They did it a few years ago, in fact, when the Guardian and the New York Times started publishing Wikileaks stuff. What I don’t understand is why they’d want to do it. Is the value to the Army of blacking out the Guardian greater than the value of the PR they’re handing to Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald?

It’s not really hard to understand. No matter what you think of Snowden, he released classified information. Now, most people will take the attitude that once it’s been released and the cat is out of the bag, there is no point in considering it classified.

As far as the military is concerned, the fact that classified information gets leaked does not authorize anyone to access that classified information.

There have probably already been cautions sent out to military people that they are not authorized to access classified information, even if it’s now publicly available at the Guardian website.

Blocking the Guardian website goes beyond the norm, but it’s not hard to guess why they would do it.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

China still restricts access to media/internet. A search from there on “Tiananmen Square”, for example, leads nowhere – you have to use Hong Kong’s Google to get any info that’s not state approved.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Your comment must be PRC-approved then, because I can see it from China without VPN.

DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who insist on absolute liberty at the expense of security will soon have neither.
unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

The Oceania-approved version.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Your comment must be PRC-approved then, because I can see it from China without VPN.
DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

That’s because AP has a moderator-mole in Beijing.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM

That’s because AP has a moderator-mole in Beijing.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Named AP… ;)

DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Named AP… ;)
DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Naw – Ed “Kuaizi” Morrissey.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM

This isn’t a big deal. This information is all still classified and viewing it on an unclassified medium/network counts as spillage according to the DOD.
It may seem like a moot point since it is on the interwebs, but that means nothing to the military.

blankminde on June 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Transparency!!!

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Since when do you care?

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on June 28, 2013 at 1:02 PM

The US is impotent.

antisense on June 28, 2013 at 1:08 PM

The US gov’t, the military, are like this chick, who cleaned up her not-so-glorious Twitter entries, the day before she appeared as a witnes…

Schadenfreude on June 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

That explains why they don’t uphold the Constitution. It’s written in cursive.

Snort.

Resist We Much on June 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM

But that doesn’t explain who is the “creepy ass cracker” in the Snowden case? Maybe “this chick” should be contacted by the press to tell us if she has had any telephone calls that can clear the question up for us.

Snort.

Basil Fawlty on June 28, 2013 at 1:12 PM

I worry about the fact that, despite what Democrats might want, our armed forces are voters. A news blackout like this is a blackout on the knowledge of a large group of voters. If it isn’t directly related to the forces war-fighting abilities, they should be as informed as the rest of us.

HakerA on June 28, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Naw – Ed “Kuaizi” Morrissey.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Ed’s ‘Kuaizi’??? Then who’s ‘Fengzi’?

DarkCurrent on June 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM

As I see it, the practical problem is that it’s easier for people to compartmentalize secrets and real life — but if their real life contains parts of secrets, it gets much more difficult to keep them apart.

It’s sort of like trying to hide a friend’s relationship status from his ex when both the friend and new paramour are known to be going to Orlando the same week.

cthulhu on June 28, 2013 at 1:33 PM

What I don’t understand is why they’d want to do it.

The issue is not access to the material, it’s about having clean unclassified systems. If the Guardian story contains actual classified information, and someone uses a military unclassified computer to access that information (in the story), then their browser cache now has classified info in it. And that causes a friggin’ HUGE headache for the IT folks to clean it off.

Yes, I know that information is now “loose” in the public realm. But it hasn’t been declassified, and so it is still an issue. This is a “zero tolerance” thing – and unfortunately is necessary because some folks just don’t take security classifications seriously. (Oddly, one thing it does is “prove” that something somewhere in that story is actually classified, if there had been any doubt.)

The other reason for this “zero tolerance” policy is that the military does have programs that crawl through the unclassified machines, checking what’s on their HDDs. If it found certain trigger words, that machine would get quarantined from the network and kept off until the IT guys performed their scrub.

(You don’t want to know how much of a royal PITA it is if someone accidentally emails classified on the unclassified network.)

BTW, the proscription is much broader than the Guardian website. The NOTAM specifies the Verizon phone record collection and other related new stories. The Army has simply blocked one of the most likely routes to that info.

GWB on June 28, 2013 at 1:53 PM

the Army is obligated to shield such materials from those who do not have “a need to know”.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Not the issue at all. It has to do with keeping classified off of unclassified networks.

GWB on June 28, 2013 at 1:56 PM

“How hard would it be for you to get around a blackout of this sort?”

Not hard at all. The hard part comes when you lose your security clearance for loading classified material on an unclassified system/network (even if you get it from an unclassified source.

People who don’t understand the requirements under which the military operates frequently get confused over things like this.

Owain on June 28, 2013 at 2:36 PM

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who insist on absolute liberty at the expense of security will soon have neither.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Your intellectual dishonesty is staggering.

MadisonConservative on June 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Question for Army veterans: How hard would it be for you to get around a blackout of this sort?

Its not hard to get around a blackout even if they are “in the field”. This is purely for show. I mean come on even a milspouse can just read it over the phone to the soldier.

canditaylor68 on June 28, 2013 at 3:07 PM

There are very strict guidelines against allowing classified material to be placed on non-classified networks. That’s the intent of this action from the Army, judging by the emails I’ve received from the Air Force. The directive is not to avoid reading it, but to avoid reading it on military non-classified networks.

The ruling is that just because it’s been made public, it is not yet unclassified.

Snaqwels on June 28, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Your intellectual dishonesty is staggering.

MadisonConservative on June 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Your lack of intellect is stunning.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:57 PM

Not the issue at all. It has to do with keeping classified off of unclassified networks.

GWB on June 28, 2013 at 1:56 PM

You are right. Forgot for a moment about spillage.

unclesmrgol on June 28, 2013 at 11:58 PM

The Oceania-approved version.

whatcat on June 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Also the one we went with during WWII. When FDR broached the subject of interning the Japanese to J Edgar, Hoover advised against it, saying that he had intelligence on all of the Japanese ethnic organizations in the US and that in his estimation there was no problem. FDR ignored Hoover’s advice and went ahead anyway.

And if you think WWII wasn’t bad in comparison to today, then let’s talk about WWI.

unclesmrgol on June 29, 2013 at 12:03 AM

This is one of those ‘Look a squirrel’ articles. Our government does not think they are doing anything wrong gathering all this phone / email data on innocent people without cause. There needs to be serious education on what the constitution means.

TerryW on June 28, 2013 at 12:19 PM

The Government didn’t have to do much gathering at all. The telcos do this themselves.

I think the Government has great cause to collect this data. And obviously the Government thinks likewise, because here we are hearing that jihadi ops in the US were disrupted because of this data. That the Government is not monitoring the content of phone calls was indicated in the Guardian article, but that little nugget of information (I’m sure the Guardian would have loved to have reported otherwise, given their politics) seems to be lost on the conspiracy theorists.

The Constitution says that your papers and possessions are to be shielded from search without a warrant, but the metadata about your phone calls has always been the property of the telcos, not you. The content of your telephone calls does belong to you according to the Court, and so a warrant must be issued to collect that, but the Court has never asserted that the metadata belonged to anyone other than the telephone companies who collected it.

If you feel differently, perhaps you should work to get either our Constitution changed or a State law passed making such records private.

unclesmrgol on June 29, 2013 at 12:16 AM