When Everyone Can Read the News About the War Except the Warriors

Who's allowed to viewThe Intercept's drone exposé?


Last week The Intercept published a trove of documents revealing some ugly elements of the drone war. But if you're a part of that war, the Jacksonville Daily News reports, you may be required to blind yourself to the story:


Service members, civilian employees and government contractors who view a recently published cache of classified documents containing intimate details of the controversial U.S. drone program could be putting their security clearance at risk, according to a Washington D.C. attorney.

"Just like with the 'Wikileaks' disclosures, individuals holding security clearances are technically not supposed to review the materials contained in the drone strike stories published by The Intercept," Bradley P. Moss, a national security attorney in Washington, D.C., told The Daily News. "The leaked materials are still considered classified and viewing classified documents, to which clearance holders are not authorized access is again, technically speaking, a security violation."…

Marine Corps public affairs officials told The Daily News that no current policy or guidance existed for service members accessing The Intercept website to view the documents.

"We are still looking for old guidance," Marine Capt. Phillip J. Kulczewski said. "(But) Marines should not be viewing these documents online."

It seems like a joke from a Joseph Heller novel: News breaks that's directly relevant to a war, and the one group barred from reading about it consists of people who actually wage that war. But stories like this have appeared following each major leak from the national security state over the last half-decade, a recurring reminder of how irrational a bureaucratic system can be.

I'd say more, but my main points haven't really changed since the last time I wrote about this here at Hit & Run, when the Snowden revelations were the leak du jour. Here that post is again: "Why a Government That Collects Everyone's Private Data Won't Let Its Employees Access Public Information."

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  1. Its funny: I do a lot of confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements, and out here in reality-land, once “confidential info” has escaped into the wild its not longer confidential.

    1. Reality is against the law.

    2. We have allways been at war with East Eurasia.

      1. My love / sex partner and I have agreed that neither one of us shall listen to tales of our sexual pasts (ESPECIALLY about the green paint, the chickens, and the dwarves, but I am NOT going to mention THAT!), that everyone in town knows about, and gossips loudly about. As soon as we are in the presence of such loud gossip, we have legally agreed in our pre-nup, post-nup, pre-coital, and post-coital agreements, we must put our fingers in our ears, and say, “Nah-Nah, Blah-Blah, I can’t hear you!” …
        Government Almighty could learn a LOT from us!!!

        1. I’m sorry, I must steadfastly decline to divulge ANYTHING about the green paint, the chickens, and the dwarves, so please don’t ask. Also, I cannot mention the parole officer, the landlord, the gerbils, and the under-the-table (and in-the-bathtub, and in-the-front-lawn, and on-the-rooftop) late “rent payments”, either. So don’t be asking anything about that, or I might bet my parole revoked!

  2. This is standard for classified. It’s in the many documents you sign that you risk your clearance if you access information you do not have clearance and need-to-know for. They specifically emphasize that leaked information does not become unclassified just by virtue of it being out in the open.

    1. Just because it’s standard doesn’t mean it isn’t ridiculous.

    2. So the stuff hoovered from Shril’s server is still classified?

      1. If it’s no longer considered classified, then it makes it harder for government employees to lie about it.

        1. ^This. Continuing the fiction that leaked, widely disseminated documents are still classified merely provides an excuse to not talk about it.

          1. It lets you stay on message.

            “I have no idea what those documents are, and I can’t speak to their accuracy or authenticity. And you can’t compare them to the documents WE have on file, because those are classified!”

        2. If it’s no longer considered classified, it also means the investigators have a harder standard to reach to prosecute people like, say, Hillary.

      2. If it hasn’t gone through the downgrade process, yes, technically it still is, and anyone with a clearance is supposed to not be viewing it unless they have a need-to-know.

  3. twitter may be helping to censor the drone papers cache.

    1. Twitter’s main purpose is to spread Kim Kardashian ass pics and inane ramblings from C-List actors.

      1. You leave James Woods alone!


        2. You leave James Woods alone!

          I… just can’t even.

          1. James Woods epitomizes Paul’s description of a c-list actor who fills twitter with inane ramblings, and because Diggstown is one of my favorite movies to watch while hungover, I felt the need to defend his honor.

            1. My personal James Woods faves are, in order:

              1) “Salvador”, which is actually an outstanding movie, in which he did REAL acting (as did James Belushi, of all people) and

              2) “Vampires”, which is awfully campy, but has the fat Baldwin brother AND Sheryl whatshername from “Twin Peaks”

              1. The book Vampire$ is really very good. And contains the line “She spread her legs so wide I could see her liver.”

              2. “Citizen Cohn”, if it had been a proper film instead of a made-for-cable show, probably would have netted him another academy award nomination.

                He’s a very good actor. Often typecast as an egomaniacal jerk, but he has very good emotional range and nuance…. which helps especially well when the role calls for “Moral Redemption of Egomaniacal Jerk”… which i think fairly describes most of his better parts.

    2. It is also a case where the censorship is
      not legitimate. Twitter definitely has some explaining to do.

      Also, if Twitter got a Nat’l Security Letter, they’re not allowed to explain anything. So keep voting Hope & Change!

    3. That is an interesting paper

      I think the nugget of it is in how it clarifies the approach of new forms of censorship – ensuring that you never be made aware that you are being censored…

      ….allowing the appearance of free speech, allowing people to engage in communications, but be completely unaware how those communications are being progressively filtered and diminished across platforms…such that information doesn’t ‘go viral’ and become multiplied. Destroying the “memetic” effect of information, and cutting off any feedback loops.

      “”You can say what you like but no one will hear you. And also, you’ll think no one cared, so you’ll give up trying.” Subtle, deniable, and quite ruthless.”

  4. The degree to which bureaucracy is the denial of reality and also is outright struggling against reality is amazing. Kafka really did get it.

    1. The requirement to not read classsified documents that are leaked and now in the public domain is absurd. But you wouldn’t be a good soldier if you question a policy just because it’s absurd. Loyal soldiers are those who “yes, sir, you are correct” with a completely straight face when you tell them 2 plus 2 equals 5. Questioning absurd statements by the state gets you marked as a potential threat.

  5. Just to be clear on the rules:
    Service members who read leaked classified information could loose security clearance, face court-martial, and end their career.

    Head of Government Department hosting and distributing classified material from a unsecured server is nothing we need to be worried about since it doesn’t really matter anyway.

    1. Another aspect:

      An excessively checkered past kills your clearance before it even starts, unless you are elected President.

    2. Hell, I was never a service member and my clearance is lapsed, and I still could face sanction (debarment and/or fine, mostly), if I read it and were caught.

      1. That, would be a stretch.

        If not marked, how would you know it classified before reading it?

        It may be the rule, but as noted above it’s a ridiculous rule and if pressed, would certainly run afoul with 1A. The government cannot tell people what publications they can and cannot read because there might be leaked classified in them.

        You can’t surf the internet because someone MIGHT have transcribed Snowden’s classified from Wikileaks to Reason?

        When Congressional staffers leak classified you’re supposed to plug your ears and not listen to the news?

        Typical overreach.

        1. As a former clearance holder, the “not marked, how can I know” argument might hold water. I most definitely recall being specifically warned by my site security organization and the corporation separately that anyone holding a clearance who reads Wikileaks may be prosecuted and/or dismissed.

          I’m not making it up, Francisco.

          Of course it’s overreach, though. That’s what the government does, especially as regards INFOSEC.

        2. Again, I think the chances of prosecuting someone for visiting Wikileaks is extremely unlikely (and of course it does butt up against the 1st Amendment big time). But I know what I and my entire company was sent regarding that.

          I think the burden drops way off if further third parties take bits and pieces from the main source. It would be impossible to prosecute effectively.

          However, dismissal from the (contractor) job has nothing whatsoever to do with the 1st Amendment.

        3. Um, I overheard somewhere that documents on Wikileaks say what they are: confidential, unclassified… so I suppose if there were anything classified it would be clearly marked like the others. Anyone willing to bell the cat can go look and let us know.

    3. One of those is a fake scandull!

  6. Speaking of Snowden revelations, I’ve been listening to a talk he gave last week (via streaming from Moscow):


    Mr. Snowden is a remarkable man, and in some respects sounds remarkably libertarian, at least in philosophy. It’s quite long, and I’m only half an hour into it, but it’s definitely worth the time.

    1. Wrong link? That one mentions Snowden but two talking heads from Hana Arendt College hog the mic. I was hoping for Snowden first person singular.

  7. Drone war documents? What drone war documents? Hey, have you seen the F-22 in action? How about those Navy rail-gun tests? LOOK OVER THERE.

  8. “Facts malreported rectify,” quoth the Ministry of Truth, under penalty of thoughtcrime. What year is this? Manning and Snowden revealed machinations on how the Bush administration, abbetted by the Outer Party which soon replaced it as Inner Party, transferred the Asset Forfeiture Crisis to Europe. Snowden’s revelations shed light on the mechanism–the same as Herbert Hoover used to shut down all American banks in 1933. Hell yes they want that and their Terminators hushed up!

      1. Needz moar psychoactivity.

      2. My cyborg is more agile than yours! Nanny-nanny-nooo-nah!!!

  9. DSS had Purdue purge its servers of a presentation on Snowden two weeks ago.

    “We have a number of ‘junior security rangers’ on faculty & staff who tend to be ‘by the book.’ Unfortunately, once noted, that is something that cannot be unnoted.”

    Sure enough, someone filed a report with the above-mentioned Information Assurance Officer, who reported in turn to Purdue’s representative at the Defense Security Service. By the terms of its Pentagon agreement, Purdue was officially obliged to be shocked to find that spillage is going on at a talk about Snowden and the NSA. Three secret slides, covering perhaps five of my ninety minutes on stage, required that video be wiped in its entirety.

  10. Warriors, come out to playyyyy.

  11. OT: The zombie apocalypse begins

    A postmortem exam is being conducted Monday on a 24-year-old Brazilian man who collapsed and died aboard an Irish aircraft Sunday after he bit another passenger.

    1. Anyone else think the Dawn… remake with Ving Rhames was awesome?

      1. Never saw it. I’m pretty tired of zombies now.

      2. No. It wasn’t terrible, but it was pretty much pointless.

        1. true. but i found the zombies’ joie de vivre et manger refreshing.


      1. Loser, the best zombies use bath salts


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