Secrecy News

DoD Warns Employees of Classified Info in Public Domain

As a new wave of classified documents published by news organizations appeared online over the past week, the Department of Defense instructed employees and contractors that they must neither seek out nor download classified material that is in the public domain.

“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,” wrote Timothy A. Davis, Director of Security in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), in a June 7 memorandum.

“DoD employees and contractors shall not, while accessing the web on unclassified government systems, access or download documents that are known or suspected to contain classified information.”

“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,” the memorandum said.

4 thoughts on “DoD Warns Employees of Classified Info in Public Domain

  1. Amazing! Insisting that documents in the public domain are still classified and can’t be viewed by gov’t employees…..

  2. exactly gary… it is a control issue not a classification issue. the documents have been compromised hence they’re no longer what they were. i can understand the control for DoD systems since those are the leaders systems, but saying you can’t even read stories in the public domain on one of the greatest attacks and violations of the Constitution is incredibly arrogant – and not only that, they’ve threatened sanctions as well so they believe they’re operating with impunity. again, freedom isn’t free so people have to decide if they want to live in tyranny or actually do something about what is happening before their eyes. it’s time for the people to rise up, but if they don’t they will be subjected to even greater control and like the prisoners in the concentration camps of old, they’ll wish they did something while they had a chance.

  3. Classified information on the Internet?…Really?

    This is a topic that I would Loooove to discuss with my fellow USA family… That be you!. In my 26 years of working in the gov community, I’ve seen my share of classified information on the Internet….I’m sure you have too…. Don’t raise your hands!

    In fact, I saw….and read….some this week! Where?

    Well if I told you exactly where I read it, I would be contributing to the exposure of ….what is believed to be ….classified information.

    There is no doubt that classified information is on the Internet … This should not be earth shattering news my friends. But how do we respond to it?

    In 1986 a memo was written….Gen 16, the “No Comment” policy was written to address this very subject… This was revised in 2011…. I think they messed up a perfectly good document but we can discuss that another time. Sensitive or classified information in the public domain…. should not be commented on.

    So, Billy Bob, your next door neighbor comes up to you and says….. “Hey, you seen that stuff on the internet about classified spy stuff the government is doing”? How would you respond?

    “Yep, I saw it and it isn’t really correct” “What it should have said is…..” Now you wouldn’t say anything like that….Right?.

    So you look at Billy Bob that you’ve known for 20 years, you drink beer with, play pool with and hang out with at stock car races… You look Billy Bob right in the eyes and say….. “No Comment”

    Billy Bob’s going to think you had one too many… Or, knowing that you do something for the government may think…. “whoa, that must be true”!

    Saying “No Comment” to someone could be construed as …., a comment confirming at a minimum, the sensitivity of the subject.

    A practical answer might be; “No BB (that’s what friends call Billy Bob) No BB, I don’t know anything about it” or “BB, you know the wife’s got me too darn busy with honey do’s to watch the news or surf the internet…I don’t know, I didn’t see it”. This eliminates any possible perception of the sensitivity.

    Now that takes care of your response to curious minds…. But what do you do if you stumbled across classified on the Internet while at work?… On a government computer? The cyber police call this …. “classified spillage”…

    Yea, cyber doesn’t like the fact that something classified was on a non classified system … I get that, but in my 20+ years of experience in the gov community, and keeping up with the rapid changes of information technology…This might not be as big of a problem as some may think.


    We are dealing with something that can never….ever…. be erased or eliminated!….. From our system, yes… but why do we want to erase it from the system?

    What’s the real reason to “purge classified from a non classified system”? Is it merely to clean the system so we can go back to work? Or is it to protect the classified information?

    That’s the bottom line isn’t it? To protect the classified information? We don’t really care if we have to destroy the computer and give you a new one…we need to protect the classified!

    But wait my friends…. The classified I’m talking about CAN’T be protected by this kind of response. It’s on the INTERNET!….

    Now…..surfing for classified information…. if it isn’t in your scope of work… may not be the wisest career move, if you smell what I’m cook’n….. Best to just leave it alone… but if you’re allowed to surf the Internet at work, I bet you’ll come across some classified. This should not be a big deal!

    Think about the millions of computers that have viewed classified on the Internet, downloaded it, emailed it etc… Once it’s on the internet …. It’s OPEN source baby….

    • Not approved to be commented on by the way

    Conversely; If you are entrusted with controlled classified information, you need to take steps to protect it so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands… right?. If this information is inadvertently placed on non-classified system… then YES, something needs to be done immediately to protect the information. OPEN source classified information is ALREADY in the wrong hands and sanitizing the system doesn’t protect it. Administratively it’s not good to see classified on a non classified system… but the damage to national security isn’t there.

    So let’s all do our part to enforce the No Comment policy…and let’s not point to…. any specific disclosures by saying “don’t go to any site that says……” Telling individuals NOT to go to any specific site, in my opinion, is detrimental to the effect we want to impose.

    I’m sure I’ll continue to see classified on the internet… but when I’m asked; Classified on the internet? Really?

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