The new investigative reporting website The Intercept has been declared a no-go zone for U.S. military personnel, according to sources and an internal memo which was obtained by the site's journalists and published on Wednesday.
Founded by billionaire Pierre Omidar and investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept—since its launch earlier this year—has published numerous reports based on NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. More recently, its journalists have exposed other government secrets—including never before seen documents related to the US terrorism watch list—that may have been provided by a separate government whistleblower concerned about the ever-widening reach of the national security state.
On Wednesday, The Intercept's Ryan Gallagher reported:
According to multiple military sources, a notice has been circulated to units within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps warning staff that they are prohibited from reading stories published by The Intercept on the grounds that they may contain classified information. The ban appears to apply to all employees—including those with top-secret security clearance—and is aimed at preventing classified information from being viewed on unclassified computer networks, even if it is freely available on the internet. Similar military-wide bans have been directed against news outlets in the past after leaks of classified information.
A directive issued to military staff at one location last week, obtained by The Intercept, threatens that any employees caught viewing classified material in the public domain will face “long term security issues.” It suggests that the call to prohibit employees from viewing the website was made by senior officials over concerns about a “potential new leaker” of secret documents.
Though military censorship is nothing new, the continued pattern of blocking government employees from reading or accessing information that has been placed in the public domain demonstrates the culture of secrecy that permeates such institutions.
As Jon Fingas, an associate editor at the technology news site Engadget writes:
The move isn't totally surprising, of course. The government regularly puts strict limits on the sites you're allowed to visit from its offices, and it has a legal obligation to keep classified content off of devices where it doesn't belong. Even if higher-ups are sympathetic, they're required to both scrub computers clean and report any visits. Nonetheless, the Intercept ban highlights a certain absurdity to the government's data policies -- it's barring access to "secret" surveillance details that you can easily read as soon as you leave for home.
Read the full story here.