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Troops prohibited from visiting WikiLeaks website to view leaked classified material

By Gunnery Sgt. Bill Lisbon | | August 26, 2010

Department of the Navy personnel are directed not to access the WikiLeaks website, which recently made headlines for posting classified military reports, because even viewing the information would be considered the willful commission of a security violation.

According to new guidance released by Secretary of the Navy on Aug. 19, 2010, even though the information has made its way onto the public Internet, military personnel who access the site from either work or home would introduce potentially classified information on unclassified networks.

“There has been rumor that the information is no longer classified since it resides in the public domain. This is not true,” said Michael Wentling, Navy special security officer, earlier this month.

The whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.org published tens of thousands of classified documents spanning the January 2004 to December 2009 time frame. The documents detail field reports from Afghanistan and an alleged Pakistani partnership with the Taliban, and also include names of Afghan informants who work or have worked with the U.S. military, reported the American Forces Press Service on Aug. 6, 2010.

The subject information was never declassified by an appropriate authority and requires continued classification or reclassification, according to the guidance.

The Department of the Navy’s information technology and cyberspace capabilities should “be used to enable our warfighters, promote information sharing in defense of our homeland and maximize efficiencies in operations, not as a means to undermine our national security interests,” said Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy.

Not only are these actions illegal, but they provide the justification for security managers to immediately remove or suspend someone’s security clearances and accesses, said Charles M. Richardson, director of the station’s Mission Assurance Department.

Furthermore, commanders may charge military personnel under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, while civilians and contractors could be placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation, said Richardson.

“I expect each individual sailor, Marine, civilian and contractor support personnel to do their part,” said Mabus.

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