Wikileaks.org has dumped 91,000 classified United States government documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan onto the World Wide Web, and is threatening the imminent release of at least 15,000 more. And although our government is officially enraged at this mammoth breach in security, news reports have not signalled much in the release that was surprising or damaging - just embarrassing.
And therein lies the rub. Our government, the government that supposedly works for us, the citizens, feels the need to classify tons and tons of paperwork, with the apparent primary objective of not embarrassing itself.
Is that the purpose of classifying documents - to stave off embarrassment? Is that the way government should operate in a supposedly free and open society?
The military, right on cue, is overreacting to the Wikileaks document dump. First of all, the big brass is collectively red-in-the-face and mad-as-hell demanding that Wikileaks bend to its will and stop publishing those embarrassing memos. And now, they are instructing members of the armed forces not visit the site and not read any of the leaked memos that are available for general perusal worldwide by anyone with a personal computer.
This week the United States Marine Corps issued the following statement: (Emphasis is that of the Marine Corps.)
USMC Personnel (Marines/Civilians/Contractors) are hereby cautioned and directed to NOT access the WIKILEAKS website from a personally owned, publicly owned or US Government computer system.
By willingly accessing the WIKILEAKS website for the purpose of viewing the posted classified material – these actions constitute the unauthorized processing, disclosure, viewing, and downloading of classified information onto an UNAUTHORIZED computer system not approved to store classified information. Meaning they have WILLINGLY committed a SECURITY VIOLATION.
So the Marines can't read those pesky memos, but their grandparents can, their siblings can - their spouses, and Sunday School teachers, and car dealers, and dog groomers, and newspaper editors back home can - it's just the United States Marines, the young men and women who stand on the front line of freedon, who can't access the piles of minutiae that the military would like to keep secret.