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There’s No Secrets This Year

December 8, 2011

From today’s files of better late than never, Politico is reporting that the Army is disciplining 15 soldiers over the Bradley Manning kerfuffle. The Army 15-6 (Army speak for official investigation) was initiated in order to find out how the hell PFC Manning was able to download hundreds of thousands of classified files and give them to the world’s most self-righteous (insert your own adjective here).

As everyone is probably aware, PFC Manning was identified as having some emotional problems before his deployment. A psychologist went so far to recommend that his weapon be taken from him or the bolt removed, however, that same psychologist did not think it necessary to revoke his access to classified material. The most troubling aspect of the story is that normal security procedures in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) at FOB Hammer were not followed. Soldiers were allowed to download files and listen to music on their classified computers. Hence, it was not considered abnormal when PFC Manning dropped his CD labeled “Lady Gaga” into his computer and pretended to listen to music, when in reality he was downloading classified material.

In response to the security breach, the Federal government instituted a number of security measures that ranges from disabling CD-ROM drives and external hard drives to software that monitors user activity. The most troubling reaction, however, was the rebuilding of what’s known as the stovepipes. Before 9/11, various departments and agencies didn’t like to share information with each other. The 9/11 Commission rightly identified this as a major reason that 19 hijackers were able to waltz into the country and take over four airliners. And as a result of the commission’s findings, the different agencies and departments starting to share more with each other. For instance, the classified State Department website helpfully allowed open access to all the official cables that were transmitted from its embassies around the world. These can be quite helpful to, say, a Marine Expeditionary Unit that might be transiting the Mediterranean in February or March 2011. This is no longer the case.

None of the “normal” procedures at the FOB Hammer SCIF were normal. Violations of security procedures that have been in place for years were routinely violated because officers, staff non-commissioned officers, and non-commissioned officers failed to enforce them. It’s as simple as that.

Basically, the Federal government went to massive expense and instituted a number of additional and unnecessary security protocols because 15 Army soldiers failed at small unit leadership.


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