The United States military has officially added the Guardian to its blacklist.
Last Friday, the Pentagon and the U.S. army admitted to the staff of the British daily newspaper that they have been blocking access to the publication's NSA leak-related content (among other topics) for thousands of defense personnel across the country and throughout the Middle East and south Asia for a while now. But just recently did the blocking grow to include the entire Guardian website.
The Department of Defense routinely takes preventative screening measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information onto DoD unclassified networks, so the decision to add the Guardian to the list shouldn't come as a flabbergasting surprise. Is our government and military overly sensitive, or even just downright paranoid?
Now, there obviously isn't any room for a civil liberties or invasion of privacy debate surrounding this issue of military censorship because defense personnel are consciously controlled by the military system, so we'll try to avoid that discussion. Our army is a machine and the heroic, selfless men and women who serve our nation are the cogs that keep the machine in perpetual, refined motion. But does the clean-cut, American machine really need this much speculative precaution or is it taking unnecessary steps in blocking an otherwise harmless publication website?
I would argue it's not. The military has perfectly legitimate reasoning in issuing its ban.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Wollman addressed the issue with an important perspective that "classified information is not automatically declassified simply because of unauthorized disclosure." The army has strict guidelines when dealing with the classification of information that is not to be tampered with by media outlets racing to publish breaking stories before their competition. The general's comment also brings to light the misleading nature of unauthorized disclosure that may infiltrate the military camps. Twitter, Reddit, and other fast-paced sites eager to catch the public's eye are wont to publish invalid or unwarrantedly transparent information, which can fracture the perfection of the U.S. military.
Now, I would be hard-pressed to admit that much of what the Guardian is publishing day to day is particularly threatening. Its homepage today headlines Andy Murray's recent win at Wimbledon, an enthusiast's reaction to the success of the publication, and some NSA updates. So is it really a "brain-melting move" to keep our troops from reading these articles on potentially unclassified networks? They've already joined the army: they've dedicated themselves to a system that has proved itself long established. They are censored and they are sculpted, and the army has every right to make them so.
If the outcome is the mitigation of any national risk, the government reserves the right to restrict its soldiers from reading the Guardian, Le Monde, El País, and Der Spiegel, at least on the government computers and during the particular stints. Plus, there are other news sites (like the Washington Post) that aren't blocked and that the defenders can read. Or maybe PolicyMic. That's a pretty good publication.