Unexamined Premises

About That Air Force 'Ban'


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:


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.