Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Politics

Defense

Air Force Blocks Access to News Sites That Posted Wikileaks Documents

Air Force Assange

The Air Force says it is blocking computer access to The New York Times and other media sites that have published sensitive diplomatic documents released by the Internet site WikiLeaks. (AP)

The U.S. Air Force has blocked access on its network to more than 25 media websites, including the New York Times, that have posted the secret U.S. diplomatic cables obtained and released by the site WikiLeaks.

The Air Force started blocking the sites in August to avoid having "classified incidents on our unclassified systems," Maj. Toni Tones, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Space Command, told FoxNews.com. 

Other sites that have been blocked include Germany's Der Spiegel, France's Le Monde, Britain's Guardian and Spain's El Pais, Tones said.

FoxNews.com is not one of the blocked sites, she said. 

“It is unfortunate that the U.S. Air Force has chosen not to allow its personnel access to information that virtually everyone else in the world can access,” a spokeswoman for the New York Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said.

The Air Force uses two different systems: a secure site on which classified information can be used and an unclassified site for day-to-day operations, Tones said.

The sites will be unblocked "when we determine they are no longer a risk to unclassified Air Force networks," she said, adding that the Air Force reviews the sites almost daily. 

"We work diligently to use our resources in the most effective and efficient manner possible," she said. "And blocking access to the WikiLeaks' material diminishes our need to go through the labor and resource-intensive process of cleaning unclassified machines that have been compromised with classified materials."

Tens of thousands of service members use the Air Force network every day, she said.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told Fox News this is not a Pentagon-wide blockage of the media sites carrying WikiLeaks documents.

It could also be a decision that is reversed. "It's not hard to reflip the switch," another Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Darryn James, said.

Lapan and James said the reason the Air Force decided to do this is to protect what they called "spillage." Any time a Pentagon computer that views classified material without permission, it needs to be cleaned, they said. Spillage is a reference to material they would need to clean.

Asked if the Pentagon would demand the Air Force reverse its decision, James said: "We'll see."

The first time WikiLeaks released 70,000 Afghan war documents last summer, the Navy, Marines and Air Force blocked access to the WikiLeaks website, but never a news outlet.

The Pentagon has already warned its employees not to go to the WikiLeaks website.

Fox News' Justin Fishel and FoxNews.com's Stephen Clark contributed to this report.