Air Force Rescinds New Guidance on WikiLeaks

Secrecy News reported Monday on strange new guidance from the Air Force Materiel Command declaring that Air Force employees and even their family members could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for accessing the WikiLeaks web site. On Monday night that new guidance was abruptly withdrawn.

Lt. Col. Richard L. Johnson of Air Force Headquarters released this statement:

“Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) recently published an internal news story that discussed the implications of downloading presumed classified information from WikiLeaks. The release was not previously coordinated with Headquarters Air Force and has been removed from the AFMC website. The Air Force has provided guidance to military members and employees to avoid downloading what could be classified information into Air Force unclassified networks and reminded them that publication of information does not itself constitute declassification of such information. The Air Force guidance did not address family members who are not Air Force members or employees. The Air Force defers to the Department of Justice in all non-military matters related to WikiLeaks.”

A copy of the withdrawn release is archived here.  See also “US air force backtracks over WikiLeaks ban” by Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, February 8,  and “No espionage charges for airmen on Wikileaks” by Scott Fontaine, Air Force Times, February 8.