The US Army confirmed on Thursday that access to The Guardian newspaper’s website has been filtered and restricted for its personnel. The policy is due to classified documents described in detail in the stories.
Gordon Van Vleet, spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email to the Monterey Herald that the Army is filtering "some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks."
The spokesman said the procedure was routine part of "network hygiene" measures to prevent unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information.
"We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security," he wrote, "however there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information."
“Until declassified by appropriate officials, classified
information - including material released through an unauthorized
disclosure - must be treated accordingly by DoD personnel,"
Van Vleet explained.
In a later phone conversation he clarified that the filtering was “Armywide” rather than restricted to some US Army facilities.
Van Vleet said NETCOM, which is part of the Army Cyber Command,
does not determine what sites its personnel can have access to,
but "relies on automated filters that restrict access based on
content concerns or malware threats."
The Guardian's website has posted classified information regarding the NSA's surveillance activities, including PRISM, the massive domestic spying program that has Internet companies collude with military intelligence to keep tabs on Americans' online habits.
The source of the leaks is Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee
and ex-staff member of a private contractor working for the NSA,
who disclosed secret documents about US surveillance to several
newspapers, including The Guardian.
The Herald inquired about the issue after staff at the Presidio
of Monterey, a military installation in California, told the
newspaper that they were able to access The Guardian’s US site,
www.guardiannews.com, but were prevented from accessing articles
on the NSA that redirected to the British site.
Restricted access to the Guardian paper’s website in the US Army is part of the overall clampdown on freedom of speech and access to information, which is currently going on America, Rodney Shakespeare from the Global Justice Movement told RT.
“It has nothing to do with ‘network hygiene’. It’s a straight attempt to suppress and to control what is being read and understood by, in this case, the soldiers,” he said.
Shakespeare called the move “ridiculous” as the servicemen would still be able to read Guardian’s publications on their mobiles phones and computers outside the military facilities, but added that still illustrates the intentions of the Obama administration.
He believes that Snowden’s revelations made the US government panic as it switched from its usual tactics of omission to blaming the press.
“If you want to look at the attacks taking place on Edward Snowden – they’re going at him, but even more on the journalists, who talked to him. The bottom line of this is that they’re out to control the information. So you see it’s an attack that’s going on free speech,” Shakespeare stressed.