Army Blocks Public Access to Digital Library

02.13.08 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Public access to the Reimer Digital Library, which is the largest online collection of U.S. Army doctrinal publications, has been blocked by the Army, which last week moved the collection behind a password-protected firewall.

But today the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act request (pdf) asking the Army to provide a copy of the entire unclassified Library so that it could be posted on the FAS web site.

The Army move on February 6 marks the latest step in an ongoing withdrawal of government records from the public domain.

“It was a policy decision to put it behind the AKO [Army Knowledge Online] firewall and to restrict public access,” said Don Gough of the system development division at the Army Training Support Center at Fort Eustis, Virginia, which operates the Reimer Digital Library.

The move came as a surprise since only unclassified and non-sensitive records had ever been made available at the Library site.

Isn’t it true, Secrecy News asked, that the only documents that had been accessible to the public were those that had been specifically… “‘Approved for public release,’ yes,” said Mr. Gough, completing our sentence. “I understand your concern,” he added.

The FAS Freedom of Information Act request is intended to reverse the Army action.

“We hope to restore public access to the Reimer Digital Library by obtaining all of its publicly releasable contents and posting that material on our own website,” the FAS request explained. “Furthermore, in order to preserve the status quo, we expect to file regular FOIA requests for updates to the RDL two or three times a month, so that we may add them to our mirror site.”

“Alternatively, if the Army were to restore the prior level of public access to the RDL, that would fulfill this request and make future requests unnecessary,” the FAS request stated.

Among the many thousands of documents that were formerly available to the public on the Reimer Digital Library, two of the latest additions are these.

“The Modular Force” (pdf), Field Manual Interim FMI 3-0.1, January 2008.

“Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosives Operational Headquarters” (pdf), Field Manual Interim FMI 3-90.10, January 2008.