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Lance Cpl. Shelby Shields, III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs
Marine Expeditionary Force - August, 2010 Many people have heard of the website WikiLeaks, a document sharing website where anyone can contribute leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents anonymously. Its recent increase in popularity may be contributed in large part to the recent "leak" of classified documents from Afghanistan.
Despite the fact that the information is now available to the general public, the information is still classified. According to Executive Order 13526, section 1.1, paragraph 4, sub-section C, "classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information."
"We're just trying to get the word out to everyone and prevent service members from ruining their careers over this," said Michael Miglionico, the information assurance manager, Marine Corps Bases Japan. "Luckily so far we've had no reported incidences."
Viewing or downloading these documents without the proper security clearance and authority can result in a variety of repercussions from non-judicial punishment to court martial, loss of clearance and denial of reenlistment.
"Many jobs require a clearance and if you lose that, you will have to be moved to another job, and you will probably be denied re-enlistment," said Gunnery Sgt. Ruben Martinez, the information assurance chief for Marine Corps Bases Japan.
In addition to the personal ramifications, accessing WikiLeaks on a government computer, even out of pure curiosity, creates what is called "spillage," Miglionico said. Cleaning up "spillage" takes a lot of IA man hours and even more government money.
While accessing the site from a personal computer may seem harmless, it is actually more detrimental to a service member's career. Accessing WikiLeaks this way means there was an intent to seek out information that is above the persons clearance authority, and can often be a career ender.
"Just one Marine not being able to do their job hurts the whole shop," Martinez said. "All because one person is curious."
"Just because it is on the Internet does not mean it's not classified," said Miglionico.
Despite the site's high visibility on the news, or your own curiosity, the information on WikiLeaks is still classified, and therefore cannot be viewed by unauthorized individuals.