The federal government is now telling soldiers and federal workers not to read the diplomatic cables being published by WikiLeaks.
THE US military in Iraq is trying to prevent its soldiers from viewing WikiLeaks documents and has posted a web advisory suggesting they could be breaking the law, a spokeswoman said today.
From the NY Times:
In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization…
The directive applies to both government computers and private devices that employees or contractors might have, as long as they are accessing the documents on nonclassified government networks.
Now tactically speaking, is this stupid, or this stupid? If you don’t want someone to read something, the worst thing you can do is tell them not to read it. I have a friend who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household. Growing up, his dad forbade him from reading Stephen King books. Predictably enough, this just created a temptation that probably wouldn’t have existed otherwise, and my friend made sure that he read as many Stephen King books as he could.
I thought the government’s responses to the release of both the Afghan and Iraq War Logs were much smarter. Regarding the Afghan War Logs, Obama claimed that “these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.” Two months later, just before WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs, the Pentagon “said it [did] not expect big surprises.”
Doesn’t the government realize that the American people really don’t care about anything important? They love Dancing with the Stars, they love football, they love trivial Hollywood gossip. Hilary Clinton ordering diplomats to steal UN officials’ credit card numbers and DNA material? Yawn. The US tried to prevent German authorities from prosecuting a group of CIA thugs who had kidnapped and tortured a completely innocent man? Time to change the channel. The cables reveal, as Noam Chomsky puts it, that our leaders have “a profound hatred for democracy”? Time to run out to the shopping mall and buy more worthless crap.
But by making such a fuss over the cables, by telling people not to read them, the government just might encourage people to do exactly that.