Over the weekend I received an email from a mother whose son is stationed with the U.S. Air Force in the Middle East. He and other Airmen received a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) from the 624th Operations Center prohibiting them from accessing stories about the NSA surveillance activity on the Air Force’s NIPRNET (Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) systems. The 624th Operations Center located at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas serves as the operational arm for the 24th Air Force’s cyberspace operations capability.
His team received an email about the NOTAM that read:
I wanted to make sure that all of you read this because just doing a simple search could jeopardize your future. In summary, anything to do with the recent news about the NSA and Verizon phone records are considered classified and searching news or records about these on our NIPRNET computers is unauthorized. Thanks!
The executive summary of the NOTAM states:
Similar to events associated with WIKILEAKS disclosures in the past 2 years, classified documents associated with a news story on NSA and wiretapping are potentially classified and readily available on the internet. Users are not to use AF NIPRNET systems to access the Verizon phone records collection and other related news stories because the action could constitute a Classified Message Incident.
They then provide more details:
Classified documents regarding Verizon phone record collection and court order have been identified as being hosted on publically accessible Internet Web Sites, most notably “The Guardian” news site. Viewing and/or downloading these documents on Air Force NIPRNET computers could constitute a Classified Message Incident. Therefore, users are not to access these file (sic) for any reason (i.e. viewing, downloading, forwarding, etc.)
You can view the original NOTAM here.
So essentially our service members, at least those in the Air Force, are prohibited from searching, forwarding, reading or saving any news stories related to the NSA Scandal on NIPRNET computers. Those like this Airman currently deployed to UAE only have access to this news through Air Force computers. Members of our military are being censored from reading news about how the rights and liberty they are fighting for is being destroyed at home.
According to this Airman many of his colleagues are upset and outraged by this – understandably. They do not deserve to be treated in this manner. I wonder if other branches of our Armed Services have been given similar notices and how high up this order originated.
We’ll be monitoring this story and provide updates as we learn more.