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Unexamined Premises

About That Air Force ‘Ban’

June 12th, 2013 - 4:06 pm

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One of the problems with the media is that, too often, they seize on and then misinterpret events that more experienced eyes and hands understand. Given that most reporters and editors are generalists, not specialists, this sometimes turns ordinary bureaucratic procedures into sinister machinations. It’s like sending a rookie to review La Boheme for the first time, and he comes back with the breathless discovery that [warning: spoiler alert] Mimi dies at the end. Well, duh…

Let me offer as an example this story at Breitbart and on World Net Daily. The headline on the Breitbart story reads:

AIR FORCE BANS PERSONNEL FROM READING NEWS STORIES REPORTING NSA SCANDAL

At WND, it’s:

MILITARY TOLD NOT TO READ OBAMA-SCANDAL NEWS — Verizon phone records story off-limits to airmen.

Oh-oh: another example of Obama administration overreach, right? Manipulation of the armed forces to serve political ends? The descending jackboot of fascism?

In fact, it’s nothing of the sort — just CYA business as usual by the Permanent Bureaucracy, Air Force division. And it makes perfect sense.

The memo to the 624th Operations Center – which is a cyberspace wing of the 24th Air Force in Lackland, Texas — instructs personnel that some of the material leaked by The Guardian regarding the NSA’s data-mining efforts and the PRISM program might, in fact, still be classified, and therefore they should not access it, even inadvertently.

Viewing and/or downloading these documents on Air Force NIPRNET computers could constitute a Classified Message incident. Therefore, users are not to access these files for any reason.

Translation: open-source news stories with possible embedded links to stolen classified information, if passed around on unsecured networks,  can get folks into a lot of trouble, by bringing in-house security monitors down on the miscreant’s head to learn whether he or she knew what they were forwarding, however inadvertently. In short, it’s for the airmen’s protection.

And that’s it. Nothing at all to do with the Obama administration — it has plenty of scandals already, but shielding negative news about itself from the military is not one of them. They can get that anywhere: PJ Media is freely available on military computers.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"on Air Force NIPRNET " is the key phrase. It's perfectly fine to go home and pull up guardian.uk and read the stories.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not at all. The guidelines are very specific. Conspiracy mongering where there is no conspiracy is just plain silly -- there are enough real things to worry about.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks Michael.

Reading the stories after seeing the headlines made me think it was a rather reasonable thing by the Air Force i.e. they weren't telling personnel not to read stories about the NSA scandal just not to read them on their computers as the info still might be officially classified despite it being public and hence libel for red flags and unwanted attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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This brings up something else. All of those TV shows and movies showing people hacking into classified sites are silly. Nothing classified is connected physically to the internet.

(It appears this was not so at one point for embassies and/or NATO, judging by an incident many years back.)

Actually, hackers did hack into the CIA and NSA sites many years ago and mess them up. All they affected, of course, was the CIA site for selling non-classified maps, and the NSA site for the (unlike the CIA museum, freely open to the public) National Museum of Cryptography.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One incident, explained. I don't think so. People are still being persecuted and prosecuted for their conservative beliefs, whether it's anti-Obama, or anti-gay. Conservatives are being hounded by the minority liberals in the military and no one is able to do anything about it. Now, Mr. Walsh, go investigate EVERY claim, not just one, and then come back and pooh pah the story then. People aren't banned? Did you talk to anyone who was punished? Anyone who was told not to access it or get punished? Did you talk to EVERYONE? I don't think so, so you have no room to make generalizations, just because you looked up the rules. Go to the ground, to the places where people are being repressed, and ask them. You know, REAL JOURNALISM? Stop this crap good enough only for the left, ridicule someone for saying something because you don't think it's true. Talk about a lack of integrity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And, just to let you know, I was Air Force, for eight years. I had a spotless record, but, because of personal politics, I was forced to take an early out, or let a Master Sergeant ruin my career. Was THAT legal? No. Was THAT according to guidelines? No. But it was done. Now, imagine someone with a hard-on for conservatives, doing the same thing. Get it now?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Files marked with a security designation that require a certain level of clearance to read will trigger an alert on a government computer if the person opening the file doesn't have that clearance.( sign-in name and password will give them the level of clearance) Even though these files are coming from a civilian source, they link back to the classified files. This rule is just to prevent a lot of needless paperwork checking on why someone without clearance is accessing the file.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
incomprehensible that this information was disseminated as a NOTAM. Unless the USAF has changed the meaning, NOTAMs are supposed to be information that affects pilots and flight operations around airports and navigational aids. They are not supposed to be about anything off the flight line, or personnel not directly involved in flight operations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>Not at all. The guidelines are very specific. Conspiracy mongering where there is no conspiracy is just plain silly -- there are enough real things to worry about.<

So you're saying reading the news is now "conspiracy mongering" and "silly"?

Well, I guess if you consider the main stream media, you might have a point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"on Air Force NIPRNET " is the key phrase. It's perfectly fine to go home and pull up guardian.uk and read the stories.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bingo. I don't know why this is so hard for some people to understand.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think everyone is over reading this memo. Just because the UK Guardian has the documents, does not change their official US government status. The point of the memo may be to protect individuals from being charged with accessing "Top Secret" documents without proper authorization - a very serious charge in the military. Given the nature of the current administration - charging a someone with illegal access via the military systems is not beyond the pale. However, didn't the SEC investigators spend time looking at porn on government computers? I do not remember any charges in that incident - just another "bureaucratic complexity" issue to investigate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks Michael.

Reading the stories after seeing the headlines made me think it was a rather reasonable thing by the Air Force i.e. they weren't telling personnel not to read stories about the NSA scandal just not to read them on their computers as the info still might be officially classified despite it being public and hence libel for red flags and unwanted attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>...open-source news stories with possible embedded links to stolen classified information, if passed around on unsecured networks, can get folks into a lot of trouble, by bringing in-house security monitors down on the miscreant’s head to learn whether he or she knew what they were forwarding, however inadvertently. In short, it’s for the airmen’s protection.<

How convenient.

Presumably, passing around ANY news story critical of the Obama regime could involve accessing a leaked "classified" document. So it's best not to read the news. Just for your own protection.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, please. Go read it again, then again, until the obvious manages to percolate into your head.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I DID get both the explicit and implicit message and my comment still stands. You're an idiot if you think the government won't be tracking who passes "classified" files around, even if they've been leaked to the news media and are thus common knowledge. So if you're in the military, or a government employee, you still might be liable to get a visit from the Feds just because you read the news, and maybe sent it on to a friend.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Viewing and/or downloading these documents on Air Force NIPRNET computers could constitute a Classified Message incident".

Yes, "if you're in the military, or a government employee, you might be liable to get a visit if you read news" that is still considered CLASSIFIED, especially if you pass it on to a friend! How does the phrase go, again? Oh yeah, "First of all, I'd like to thank you for your interest in national defense."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not at all. The guidelines are very specific. Conspiracy mongering where there is no conspiracy is just plain silly -- there are enough real things to worry about.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just plain silly at best, and yellow journalism at worst. That's why I quit reading WND a long time ago, except for a couple of columnists. I have their archives bookmarked, and that's all I look at on that site.

Sure wish those two would move elsewhere! (Like to PJM, maybe?)

I take a back seat to nobody in seeing the evil that is this administration (in particular) and the left (in general). They have a long-term plan to destroy our country, and they are ruthless. There is NOTHING they won't do if they think they can get away with it.

But making an evil conspiracy out of this perfectly reasonable memo?

That's just STUPID!


Don't let your hate short circuit your brains, people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Which two? Just out of interest.

And cannot stop having sympathy for a site run by a Lebanese Christian who's on our side, when so many have gone over to the enemy. (I'm I Israel.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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