Three weeks after U.S. troops were told they could face disciplinary action if their official email addresses were found among those hacked from the adultery website Ashley Madison, the services appear ready to drop the affair.
So far there are no reports of soldiers, sailors, Marines or airmen even being reprimanded for signing up to the cheating site using an official Pentagon account, though the Navy and Marine Corps say they continue to monitor the situation.
Army spokesman Wayne Hall, who last month told The Daily Beast website that signing up for a website was not a crime, on Wednesday said the worst offense anyone might be guilty of is unauthorized use of a government email address.
He didn't respond to a follow-up question asking whether soldiers or civilians with security clearances who registered with the site may be more vulnerable to blackmail as a result.
Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said leaders decided not to act against airmen who joined Ashley Madison from their work accounts. "The Air Force took no action based on the emails that were hacked," she said.
The services' approach seems to contradict the Pentagon's initial reaction to the news that potentially thousands of Defense Department employees may have used their work emails -- and possibly computers -- to register for the website.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said service members could be disciplined, noting that signing up for a site offering adulterous affairs presented a character issue because conduct is very important" to good order and discipline in the military, he said.
Conduct unbecoming and adultery are punishable charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The Ashley Madison hack, which took place in July with the email addresses leaked Aug. 18, revealed some 15,000 emails addresses belonging to U.S. military and government departments.
According to the unofficial analysis, the hacked accounts include 6,788 addresses ending in "army.mil" addresses, 1,665 ending in "navy.mil," 809 ending in "usmc.mil" -- for U.S. Marine Corps -- and 206 addresses ending in the newer domain "mail.mil."
In addition to the military services, more than 100 addresses ending with "va.gov" -- for the Department of Veterans Affairs -- were among the leaked emails.
The VA has declined to comment beyond saying the majority of its employees are hardworking and dedicated to serving veterans.
--Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org