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.