Air Force personnel on military computers are no longer able to access the websites of The New York Times, the Guardian, and 22 other news publications—greeted with an "ACCESS DENIED" message instead. The reason? WikiLeaks panic, of course.
Blocking direct access to WikiLeaks is one thing—but blocking the ability to read over twenty newspaper and media sites from around the world is quite another. And the prohibition goes far behind suppression, warning airmen who try to access NYTimes.com, for example, that their online activity is being monitored and threatening them with punishment, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The rationale is the same that's been used against government employees across the country—that browsing WikiLeaks risks the spread of classified documents (despite the fact, of course, that these documents are available to anyone, anywhere in the world). But this time is different. Rather than just blocking the leaked cables, or even articles that link to the leaked cables, entire newspapers are now censored.
Access to the news—all of the news—is now impossible, from a variety of authoritative, mainstream, legitimate sources. So far the Air Force is alone among the branches of the military with a suppressive approach this austere, and even within the service, there's some dissent regarding the draconian directive: The WSJ quotes one anonymous official who "said blocking the New York Times was a misinterpretation of military guidance to avoid visiting websites that post classified material." This seems less like a misinterpretation and more like a heavy-handed, rather startling attempt to keep Americans in the dark. [WSJ]