Recently leaked Pentagon intel documents

Does anyone here have a policy or rule that specifically prohibits people from viewing the recently leaked documents that are all over the Internet.

Under U.S. law, it’s is legal to read leaked information and for news orgs to publish it. See New York Times v. United States, 403 US 713 (1971)

But with this recent set of leaks you always hear people say, “hey if you have a clearance you are not allowed to read any of it on the Internet.”

Well, I cannot find any policy or rule stating this.

I think the main concern is that if you do it from a work computer it could lead to a possible “spill” because for all intents and purposes, that information is still classified and should not be on an unclas computer (or a computer not cleared for the level of the leaked information).

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This is viewing at home on personal computer.

I cannot find anything policy, rule, or law.

When the media discusses the classified info, what are you supposed to do? Turn off the TV? Put down the newspaper? Stop reading an online article?

I don’t know about any such restrictions unless somebody is overachieving in giving out guidance :slight_smile:

One thing I heard is that although a number of news outlets have reported on the leaks, the documents themselves may be on sites that may be risky to visit in terms of trackers or malware. I saw a couple such articles on “mainstream” news sites but they did not include any links to view the leaked documents, just some screen grabs of what appeared to be images of wrinkled/folded documents.

Oh no I looked!!! :flushed: :worried: :scream:

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I think as a clearance holder, you have a responsibility to handle classified information properly. That includes not viewing classified information unless you have a need to know and the proper clearance. Just because it has become public does not deem it unclassified. Just my take.


Definitely not anything you want to read/view on your work computer, but I don’t see how any employer can prohibit any of their employees from reading/viewing information put out by the US press. Thank goodness we still have journalists willing to report information in this country without fear of being murdered/kidnapped/tortured.

I’m not aware of any policy or rule that prevents cleared personnel from viewing leaked-and-published classified documents. As I recall, a decade ago, some cleared personnel reported that they had been instructed not to read reporting based on material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, even on their home computers. However, such instructions seem not to have been based on any law or regulation.

Regarding the present document leak, see Washington Post reporters Shane Harris’ and Samuel Oakford’s article, “Leaker of U.S. secret documents worked on military base, friend says.”

It seems to be only a matter of time before the leak investigation is solved.

This is a great article. Thanks for sharing. It shattered my theory that the leaker was some DOD big wig’s teenage son. It sounds more like it’s some sort of young staffer with a napoleon complex. Loved the quote about the nail clippers visible in the background! :slight_smile:

I wonder how that kid was able to take pictures of classified docs. You can’t even get into the buildings for 3 letter agencies with your phone. Perhaps they are not that strict at whatever base he worked on?


Probably time for a rethink about who really needs access to what.

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Teixeira apparently took printed documents home and photographed them there.

Agree! The documents are still considered classified even if they are in the public domain. If you had to take the most recent round of DCSA trainings, that exact point was made in the trainings. Plus, why would want to read the documents anyway?


Such a law would be unenforceable. Having said that, why are you so dead-set on reading classified documents (yes, they’re still classified)? If you absolutely must know what was in them, you could just read the expert analysis about them from the media.

Exactly what I would be interested in hearing. Why do they want to view those docs so desperately? I don’t know about you all but I go out of my way to view as little as possible. Only what I need to complete my job duties.

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Many security clearance holders are interested in current events. It is not unusual or surprising that a security clearance holder would be interested in seeing what has been publicly leaked.


I suppose it’s up to you what you want on your own computer and whether you’re willing to take the risk. But I would encourage you to keep these 3 things in mind:

  1. If you ever used that computer for anything work-related, I believe your employer and gov client has the right to audit it (experts please feel free to verify or refute).
  2. If you were not authorized to view that info before the leak, you’re still not authorized. It is still classified regardless of where it’s been leaked.
  3. I would think this type of situation (classified info leaked into public domain) should be treated the same as questions from your annual training (if you’re cleared):
    Q: Your coworker Mary accidentally leaves a folder on her desk marked Top Secret. What do you do?
    A. Read it
    B. Show it to everyone at the office to help decide what to do
    C. Do not read it. Lock it up in an approved safe or desk drawer and notify Mary and your CSO

Q: Mary accidentally emails you a Top Secret attachment on unclass email. What do you do?
A. Open it and read it
B. Fwd it to everyone in your dept
C. Do not read it. Delete it then notify Mary and your CSO

fair enough. I was referring generally to all not just clearance holders.

This is a discussion about the fear mongering taking place within DoD, most recently of which was an unclassified memo from Kathleen Hicks telling people what they can and cannot do on their home computers:

Based on her memo, I cannot even read news web sites that discuss the documents. Last week the NY Post had on their front page web site a photo of the suspect as well as two of the documents.

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Again, this is related to activity on your personal computer in the privacy of your home. Not on anything work related.

We have laws for child porn and downloading illegal content but not that cover viewing or downloading leaked information. I believe such a law would never be passed.