DoD: If You See A Leaked NSA Document, Press SHIFT And DELETE To Get Rid Of It

from the this-again dept

We saw this back when Wikileaks released a bunch of documents and the Defense Department and other government agencies told employees that they weren't allowed to look at any of the documents, even though they were being splashed all over the press. Now, it appears, the same thing is happening concerning the NSA leaks. The Defense Department quickly sent out a memo to staff, saying:
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. It is the responsibility of every DoD employee and contractor to protect classified information and to follow established procedures for accessing classified information only through authorized means.
This included instructions, such as the following:
DoD employees or contractors who inadvertently discover potentially classified information in the public domain shall report its existence immediately to their Security Manager. Security Managers and Information Assurance Managers are instructed to document the occurrence and report the event to the Director of Security Policy and Oversight, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)). The offending material will be deleted by holding down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key for Windows-based systems and clearing of the internet browser cache.
Given how much these documents are now showing up in the news, you have to imagine that Defense Department "Security Managers" are up to their eyeballs in "reports" from staffers who "inadvertently" run across such classified materials. On top of this, staff are told to not even acknowledge the existence of these documents:
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.
I've seen people defend these policies in the past, but they make no sense. All they do is encourage a head-in-the-sand mentality within the government, in which employees are told to pretend that public information isn't public. As we've said before, in the business world, non-disclosure agreements are generally considered null and void the moment the same information becomes public via other means. Because that's dealing with reality. Pretending that these documents aren't out in the world, and having to fill out a report every time a government employee happens to hit a news article with one of these documents shown, seems like a tremendous waste of time and energy, all in an attempt to deny reality.


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  1.  
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    kiwini, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    Emulating Obama's leadership style

    -Defense Department Warns Employees Not To Look At Any Leaked Documents- followed by "DOD employees or contractors who inadvertently discover potentially classified information in the public domain shall report its existence immediately to their Security Manager."

    And how are said "employees or contractors" able to recognize the forbidden documents/info WITHOUT reading (ie: looking at) them?...

    Is this double-speak, or no speak?.

     

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  2.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Of course the DOD doesn't want its' employees to see this info. If YOU knew you were working for a bunch of assclowns and stooges, would you be happy about it?

     

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  3.  
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    peter, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Security being idiots?

    No news here.

    Several years ago I worked in a nuclear establishment. A fellow worker had a magazine article about nuclear power and atomic weapons pinned up on the wall. He was disciplined for failing to lock away nuclear secrets, as the article contained information that had never officially been declassified.

    Certain employees were outraged at this, and after a few months of ever increasing numbers of the articles being pinned up all over the place and ever increasing shrill memos from Security, he was un-disciplined and the matter was quietly dropped.

     

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  4.  
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    peter, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Security being idiots?

    No news here.

    Several years ago I worked in a nuclear establishment. A fellow worker had a magazine article about nuclear power and atomic weapons pinned up on the wall. He was disciplined for failing to lock away nuclear secrets, as the article contained information that had never officially been declassified.

    Certain employees were outraged at this, and after a few months of ever increasing numbers of the articles being pinned up all over the place and ever increasing shrill memos from Security, he was un-disciplined and the matter was quietly dropped.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Emulating Obama's leadership style

    "Is this double-speak, or no speak?"

    Yes.

     

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    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    "offending material will be deleted by holding down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key"!

    Yeah, that'll delete if from the "public domain", the only place referenced. Sheesh. It's difficult to believe any writer could so mangle a simple idea.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Security being idiots?

    This is actually a pretty interesting little anecdote. I really like the apparent solidarity of the employees vs. management. It's off-topic, clearly, but I'd be interested in reading any other (suitably anonymized)tales from working in a 'nuclear establishment'.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    "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."

    100% correct, it has been that way for as long as security was in place.

    it's what you sign onto when you join the military, it's called an "ethic".

    I know ethic's are foreign to you, you might want to look it up.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    Re:

    Right...none of that makes it a good idea.

    Great defense!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    NSA = No Sanity Anywhere
    DOD = Deny Our Documents

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    I have done courses in the military on SECRET equipment, and have been told not to say what the course is, or what it does, even to other people doing the course with me.

    it's just how it works, nothing unusual about it at all..

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Memo for those exposing classified documents

    "DoD employees or contractors who inadvertently discover potentially classified information in the public domain shall report its existence immediately to their Security Manager."

    "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."

    So isn't reporting it acknowledging its existence?

    You gotta love these assholes. They're so fulla shit, that they can't even keep track of it from one sentence to the next.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Emulating Obama's leadership style

    head a'splode

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    "So isn't reporting it acknowledging its existence?"

    was is the "IT" are you talking about, 'classified information" or the specific contents of classified material ?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Memo for those exposing classified documents

    Don't report it! It's a trap!

    Danger, Will Robinson!!!!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    Yes.

     

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  17.  
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    Another AC, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    "Ethic" - I don't think that word means what you think it means.

     

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  18.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Emulating Obama's leadership style

    This is used to weed out the bad guys. Those who report it are obviously not getting all of their news directly from DoD-approved filtered news services and are thus put on a watch list.

     

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  19.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    NSA spy to DOD employee

    We have record of you watching the news, going to websites and watching things that are in the public domain. You are now subject to santions.
    Guess you shouldn't have had a life outside of work huh?!?

     

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  20.  
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    Alt0, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Personally I particularly like that "they" call it "offending material". Like it was prOn or something.

     

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  21.  
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    Dogbreath, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Emulating Obama's leadership style

    "thus put on a watch list."

    I think you meant "witch list", because you know what we do to witches...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lu5_5Od7WY

     

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  22.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Even to the other people ding the course with me

    I have done courses in the military on SECRET equipment, and have been told not to say what the course is, or what it does, even to other people doing the course with me.
    I think the intention of these rules is to prevent people from accidentally leaking additional secrets.

    If Nathan NSAer sees a PRISM slide on a news site, he might think the whole presentation has become public (not just the 4 slides released so far), and then feel free to talk about stuff that wasn't released.

    Their solution is this head-in-the-sand thing which, if followed to the letter, would prevent Nathan from spilling more beans (since he behavior isn't supposed to change when faced with the new facts).

    You'd have to be an incredibly obedient automaton to strictly obey the rule (yet I've seen people defend it).

    The rules are are dumb, but they're made to stop stupid people from screwing up. And in any sufficiently-large organization, there are going to be stupid people.


    online

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    What's it like thoughtlessly obeying rules borne of abject stupidity? Do they give you a Milk-Bone if you wag your tail extra hard and don't shit on the rug?

     

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  24.  
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    Lord Binky, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:48pm

    Learning from Nature

    The Department of Defense apparently is following the Natural Defense mechanism of the Ostrich by requiring employees perform an analog of the bury your head in the sand defense.

    All attempts to inform them this natural defense is actually a myth have been unsuccessfull due to the application of this technique before anyone can finish their sentence.

     

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  25.  
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    Lord Binky, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    It is porn for spys. Oh so naughty intellegence porn.

     

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  26.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    up to their eyeballs, but not looking at "secrets"

     

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  27.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    up to their eyeballs, but not looking at "secrets"

    Given how much these documents are now showing up in the news, you have to imagine that Defense Department "Security Managers" are up to their eyeballs in "reports" from staffers who "inadvertently" run across such classified materials.


    No one at those departments are searching the Internet for secret documents.

    Perhaps we have forgotten their proclivity for searching out porn... that is keeping them busy.

     

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  28.  
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    justok (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Double D 7

     

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  29.  
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    Barry Carter, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Who knows about this secret DOD "Shift-Delete" mechanism to remove web content. Maybe the MPAA should use this feature?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Aside the funny factor of 10, in practical terms it means their own personnel has less access to data than their adversaries this can't be good.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Prank

    We used to tell interns / first year analysts to hit Alt + F + X + N as a shortcut when they were working on things.

    Classic.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Short Translation of the Memo

    "Obey orders, no matter how stupid they are."

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Short Translation of the Memo

    Yeah, tell that to those convicted at the Nuremberg Trials.

    On another note, if DOD employees are supposed to delete any classified information they run across, and the employees are diligent about this, how long before the US gummint has no classified files left?

    Then they won't have anything to hide.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    It's just a case of the blind misleading the blind.

     

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  35.  
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    Pitabred (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Re:

    Ethics is not the same as "follow every rule given to me by my superiors"

    I can see how you'd get that confused, though.

     

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  36.  
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    MAC, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    I see...

    I see nothing, nothing Commandant Klink!

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Uh, 'scuse me, but...

    ...wasn't it the DOD that suggested 7 overwrites for secure deletion of data?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re:

    I think he meant Ethnic. Like his point of view is in a minority like the Ethnics.

     

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  39.  
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    gojomo (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    People, [SHIFT]-[DELETE] is the key sequence for launching drone strikes!

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:45pm

    The idiots employed by the DoD

    are actually stupid enough to this. I mean, we're talking drooling morons who can barely remember not to piss themselves five times a day. So YES, they're going to do this -- just as they're told -- because they're not smart enough to consider the possibility of doing something else.

     

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  41. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

    Keep on milkin'!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIWWRlTksFM

    Bawk!! Bawk!!

     

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  42.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Even to the other people ding the course with me

    I think the intention of these rules is to prevent people from accidentally leaking additional secrets


    That may be, but at least sometimes they act like it's something more than that.

    For example, the old Apple Newton had a nifty easter egg in it: if you entered the latitude and longitude of Area 51 into the time zone app, various system icons would change to a UFO theme.

    This easter egg was removed at the request of the DOD, because the location of Area 51 is classified. Even though it's location is extremely well-known, and you had to already know it to trigger the easter egg.

    I suspect all of this is more cult-like thinking than anything else. In other words, crazy.

     

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  43.  
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    Zeissmann (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    Deleting

    I wonder by-holding-what-while-pressing-what will the offending material be deleted on paper-based newspapers?

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 3:44pm

    So DoD is recommending the use of shift+del, not shreding, because even if you delete the files they can go after you.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 5:00pm

    I would point out that what was quoted above was not the entire instruction that was put out this taking bits and pieces out of context, but hey, Techdirt doesn't need to be fair do they? I mean presenting something in a way that isn't skewed or inflammatory and that doesn't include a thorough analysis just doesn't get the same click through rate does it and what was actually put out is a lot less dramatic, for example, the instruction specifically says on government owned computers or personal computers connected to government information systems (such as those connected via OWA), or that the statement about acknowledging its accuracy or existence refers to public acknowledgements and not reporting it to one's security manager.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Our that the deletion instructions are for how people can delete the information from the browser cache and hard drive of their personal computers.

     

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  47.  
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    Digitari, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 7:14pm

    My how things have changed

    I just went back and looked at my SOP for running a military message center (back in the days of teletype, era 1982) It was pretty clear (in the Navy/Marine Corps at least ) that ANY classified documents that became public IMMEDIATELY were to be stamped unclassifed.(that was also part of MY Job) The reason I remembered this was because I typed out the damned SOP 17 times before my Boss said it was correct.(researching all the orders that pertained to operating a classified message center)

    So, now, when classified Messages are NOT centrally located, they are not reclassified when a security breach happens, that to me is fascinating in itself, and again, to me VASTLY revealing........

     

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  48.  
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    JMT (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    "it's what you sign onto when you join the military, it's called an "ethic"."

    No, it's called a rule, and rules are not ethics.

    "I know ethic's are foreign to you, you might want to look it up."

    Ironic, since you've mangled the definition of ethics so badly.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2013 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Re:

    It's darryl. He can't even spell "ethics" without an apostrophe.

    Hell, his wife is probably constructed out of solar panels and named "Karen" for good measure.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    Ethic is not the total abolishment of logic and reason.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:50am

    Re: My how things have changed

    " (back in the days of teletype, era 1982)"
    " I typed out the damned SOP 17 times before my Boss said it was correct."

    then why did you not simply type it up on an ASR, edit the punched tape, read it off a TD head, and print out the edited version with a KSR ?

    Someone running a message station DOES NOT have the authority to reclassify documents, saying you were simply means you are lying.

    a document is classified for the classification life of the document, (usually 25 years), but some documents are never declassified. Operators do not have the authority to de-classify documents.

    Don't let your imagination get in the way of reality.

    so I guess you know all about KT-26's. BID-610, T-20's, card readers, change of day, and traffic flow secure, red and black sections and so on ?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:51am

    Re: My how things have changed

    "unclassified"

    the term is "declassified", yes, you really know you job !!!

     

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  53.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Even to the other people ding the course with me

    Most people obey rules without understanding, or caring, why they exist.

    If you have a rule like this, and staff who follow it obediently without understanding, then you get formal requests to remove Area 51 easter eggs.

    The people who bother to comment here (even the crazy ones) are exceptions - they have their own opinions (sometimes nutty ones, but still their own).

    But most people just follow rules (and spook agencies select for blind obedience).

    Maybe that's a good thing for social stability, I don't know, but that's the way it is.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Even to the other people ding the course with me

    "Most people obey rules without understanding, or caring, why they exist."

    you might, but NO most people do not, people with high level security clearances know exactly WHY the rules are there, and why it is such a crime to break them.

    you are actually made to do courses on security, including what to expect when or if you are approached by an 'agent', you are also taught the importance of even releasing a small amount of information because the 'enemy' is skilled at taking small bits of information for many sources and building up the full picture.

    You are also trained that no matter what your clearance is, if you don't need to know some secret information, you are obliged NOT to view it, it's called the "need to know" principle.

    You are also taught that no one person is able to determine the security status for some information or it's value in the wrong hands.

    As the enemy is able to take information from different sources and build up the larger picture.

    So someone releasing what he believes to be 'innocent' or 'not damaging' information, is automatically assumed to be WRONG, as he alone cannot make that determination, no one can, as you simply do not know what other information the enemy has at it's disposal and analysis.

    So someone like Edmond or Manning stating that "they reviewed the information and did not release any damaging information is not a valid argument, and will not be accepted by the people they are responsible too.

    These people broke specific laws in relation to the use, distribution and misuse of classified information. That is the bottom line, also they were FULLY aware of their actions. Because they ARE TRAINED and educated on the subject.

    They do not blindly follow the rules without an understanding of them. They have a far clearer understanding that someone who has never had to deal with secure information in a secure environment.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: My how things have changed

    "So isn't reporting it acknowledging its existence?"

    yes, so what, it's not publicly acknowledging it's existence. what's your point again ?

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:24am

    Re: My how things have changed

    you do understand that an "unclassified" document is a classified document right ??

    that document has been classified as "unclassified", it could be classified as secret, top secret, sensitive or several others they are all security classifications, including 'unclassified'.

    You would not of had the authority to make a document classified SECRET into one that is 'unclassified'.

    and how were these documents 'made public' and who did prison time for that breach of security, you ?? if you were running the station (funny you say you had a commander!!) you would be responsible for the breach of security and would have to explain to (probably NSA) why you failed in your duty.

    I was working in a navel communications station, we did an audit (daily) on our crypto code cards (sliced in two when used) and found one half of one card missing, we were not allowed to leave the building (Friday afternoon) and had to strip the place apart and find it before we could leave, a special team was send in, we found the card reader had a small gap in it that allowed the card to slide behind the front panel of the equipment.

    If it had not of been found we were all facing security breach charges, we would have lost our security clearances (and pay bonus,, hush money) and lost our jobs.

    To get replacement circuit boards for our crypto gear (to fix a fault, we were first required to go to the armoury, draw out our loaded 9mm browning pistils (and holsters) :) and personally supervise the transport of the strong boxes containing the circuit cards.

    you are taught and know it is a serious responsibility, and you are trained to understand you do not have the ability or authority to make security determinations, like these traitors have done.

     

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  57.  
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    RonKaminsky (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Idiots

    As if Shift + Delete on a Windows system actually would make a file unrecoverable --- numerous utility programs can "undelete" such files (in many cases).

    Well, there is a small chance that they've modified Windows so that Shift + Delete does an actual secure deletion --- but I'd be pretty surprised if that were actually the case.

     

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  58.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Even to the other people ding the course with me

    Hm. I don't doubt you about the training and so on, but I don't see how that explains the Area 51 easter egg redaction.

    From a strict security viewpoint, it would have been better to avoid all comment on the easter egg - asking Apple to remove it is akin to acknowledging that the location is correct (there would have been no removal request if the location given was just a random made-up one).

    Just because people receive training, and that training does explain the reasons, doesn't mean the recipients understand what they've been taught or care about the reasons. Many (most?) just thoughtlessly follow the rules.

    Which may be a good thing for society - if soldiers rationally ran away, their countries would quickly be conquered. The quasi-religious indoctrinations of young soldiers and spooks may be a necessary thing. But it's still quasi-religious indoctrination.

    BTW, I'm not excusing Snowdon, Manning, or anyone else on the basis that the releases were "harmless"; I agree that individuals can't be allowed to decide that by themselves.

    Civil disobedience, on the other hand, is different. That's where you break the rules, knowingly, because you've decided a higher moral cause requires it. But it's a little like exercising your "right of rebellion" - the result depends on whether you win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Michael Price, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 3:37am

    Re:

    And exactly how many of them do you think don't already know they work for assclowns?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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