The United States Air Force has blocked access from its computers to news websites that have published State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks, the Wall Street Journal reports.
As a result, Air Force staffers who want to check out the news will no longer be able to access the New York Times, the UK’s Guardian, Germany’s Der Spiegel and about two dozen news sites that the Air Force says have published leaked documents.
Air Force spokeswoman Major Toni Tones told the WSJ that the move is meant to keep classified documents off unclassified computers. She would not say which websites are being targeted for blocking, but the WSJ reports that Spain’s El Pais and France’s Le Monde are among the censored sites.
The WSJ reports:
Air Force users who try to view the websites of the New York Times, Britain’s Guardian, Spain’s El Pais, France’s Le Monde or German magazine Der Spiegel instead get a page that says, “ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored,” according to a screen shot reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The notice warns that anyone who accesses unauthorized sites from military computers could be punished….
The move was ordered by the 24th Air Force, commanded by Major Gen. Richard E. Webber, following the late November publication of U.S. diplomatic cables. The Army, Navy and Marines aren’t blocking the sites, and the Defense Department hasn’t told the services to do so, according to spokespeople for the services and the Pentagon.
An unnamed defense official told the WSJ that the Air Force’s order may be a “misinterpretation of military guidance” regarding visiting websites featuring classified documents.
The Air Force notes that employees are not banned from viewing the sites at home or at non-work computers.
Following WikiLeaks’ release of State Department cables late last month, the US government banned employees from accessing the site on work computers. However, this appears to be the first time that news sites that reported on WikiLeaks revelations have been targeted for censorship.
So far, other branches of the US military aren’t blocking access to news sites, the WSJ reports.