from the this-again dept
Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites, disclosed to the media, or otherwise in the public domain remains classified and must be treated as such until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. government authority. It is the responsibility of every DoD employee and contractor to protect classified information and to follow established procedures for accessing classified information only through authorized means.
This included instructions, such as the following:
DoD employees or contractors who inadvertently discover potentially classified information in the public domain shall report its existence immediately to their Security Manager. Security Managers and Information Assurance Managers are instructed to document the occurrence and report the event to the Director of Security Policy and Oversight, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)). The offending material will be deleted by holding down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key for Windows-based systems and clearing of the internet browser cache.
Given how much these documents are now showing up in the news, you have to imagine that Defense Department “Security Managers” are up to their eyeballs in “reports” from staffers who “inadvertently” run across such classified materials. On top of this, staff are told to not even acknowledge the existence of these documents:
DoD employees or contractors who seek out classified information in the public domain, acknowledge its accuracy or existence, or proliferate the information in any way will be subject to sanctions.
I’ve seen people defend these policies in the past, but they make no sense. All they do is encourage a head-in-the-sand mentality within the government, in which employees are told to pretend that public information isn’t public. As we’ve said before, in the business world, non-disclosure agreements are generally considered null and void the moment the same information becomes public via other means. Because that’s dealing with reality. Pretending that these documents aren’t out in the world, and having to fill out a report every time a government employee happens to hit a news article with one of these documents shown, seems like a tremendous waste of time and energy, all in an attempt to deny reality.