Some news on the Pentagon and its penchant for secrecy.* First up: The Washington Post story referenced earlier today, which addresses the National Security Archive's work on the retroactive classification of U.S. strategic missile totals.
Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Energy Department, said the Pentagon excised the missile numbers. Under a 1998 law, Wilkes's agency focuses on scrubbing declassified documents for sensitive U.S. nuclear weapons information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to harm Americans, he said."It's not our call to do missile data," Wilkes said. "There's no question that current classified nuclear weapons data was out there that we had to take back," he added. "And in today's environment, where there is a great deal of concern about rogue nations or terrorist groups getting access to nuclear weapons, this makes a lot of sense."I should stress here that the numbers in total have in some cases been part of the public record for decades.* Next: A new Defense Department "information security/website alert," issued Aug. 6, as noted by Eric Umansky and others. It restates what can't be posted on .mil sites:
ALTHOUGH NOT A FINITE LIST, SUCH INFORMATION INCLUDES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, TECHNICAL INFORMATION, OPERATIONAL PLANS, TROOP ROTATION SCHEDULES, POSITION AND MOVEMENT OF U.S. NAVAL CRAFT, DESCRIPTIONS OF OVERSEAS MILITARY BASES, VULNERABILITY OF WEAPON SYSTEMS OR DISCUSSION OF AREAS FREQUENTED BY U.S. PERSONNEL OVERSEAS. SPECIAL ATTENTION SHALL BE GIVEN TO IDENTIFICATION OF INFORMATION THAT WOULD FACILITATE CIRCUMVENTION OF DOD, COMPONENT OR COMMAND POLICIES, RULES, REGULATIONS OR OTHER SIGNIFICANT GUIDANCE (E.G., ORDERS, MANUALS, INSTRUCTIONS, SECURITY CLASSIFICATION GUIDES).A lot of that makes infinite sense, but there's enough generic language there to give anyone, anywhere in the military, the leeway to restrict just about anything. And they do just that.The new web alert also has this to say on military blogs:
PERSONAL BLOGS (I.E., THOSE NOT HAVING DOD SPONSORSHIP AND PURPOSE) MAY NOT BE CREATED/MAINTAINED DURING NORMAL DUTY HOURS AND MAY NOT CONTAIN INFORMATION ON MILITARY ACTIVITIES THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. SUCH INFORMATION INCLUDES COMMENTS ON DAILY MILITARY ACTIVITIES AND OPERATIONS, UNIT MORALE, RESULTS OF OPERATIONS, STATUS OF EQUIPMENT, AND OTHER INFORMATION THAT MAY BE BENEFICIAL TO ADVERSARIES.* Finally, this story, on how one of the great champions of a sane government secrecy policy has been compelled, under something of a legal threat from the Department of Homeland Security, to pull a "for official use only" document from the web.UPDATED 8/22/06: Reader "DC Loser" asks a good question:
Does this mean that all those reference documents and textbooks sitting in my basement with the ICBM numbers (1,054 under SALT I) are now classified? Am I going to lose my clearance because of this? What am I going to tell them on my next poly?-- Dan Dupont