New Frontiers in Stupidity: CableGate Edition


Benjamin Wittes of the legal blog Lawfare writes:

Those of you concerned about the Wikileaks disclosures will be reassured to know that the military IT folks are on the case and are aggressively cracking down on–drum-roll, please–us. That's right, folks, Wikileaks, Lawfare. It's all the same. They're both on the Internet, after all.

a reasonable reaction

Apparently, an Army captain in Iraq wrote Wittes today to say that when he tries to access the site, he gets a message that begins with a big *** YOU HAVE SELECTED A SITE THAT MAY POTENTIALLY CONTAIN CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS *** and goes on to explain that while "Viewing these documents is not considered a spill in of itself…once a user identifies the information as classified or potentially classified, the individual should immediately cease viewing the item and close their web browser."

Wittes reacts:

I cannot tell you how much I resent this. It's not just the stupidity of the failure to distinguish between leaks and commentary on national security law–which inevitably will occasionally touch on leaks. It's also the ridiculous phrase "May Potentially Contain Classified Information," which in this instance translates roughly to "Does Not Contain or Discuss Classified Information Not Already Disclosed by Entities With Orders of Magnitude More Readers." We have not posted any State Department cables here on Lawfare. The most we have done is linked to a New York Times article that refers to some cables and re-quoted what the Times had already quoted. We have actually taken pains over the life of this blog–and before–to avoid compromising sensitive material in the course of work that necessarily brings us into contact with it. On a few occasions, we have gone so far as to decline to post on sensitive matters that have come our way as a result of accidental disclosures. We write off of the public record here at Lawfare. Some of my press friends may not admire that, but that's what we do. Glad to know the military appreciates the effort.