Intelligence: May 6, 2005

Archives

One interesting problem with classified electronic tools, notably computer based ones like photo analysis equipment and other systems, is that once anything is processed using this gear, the product of that work becomes classified. Even if its something innocuous. During tsunami relief operation earlier this year, helicopter crewmembers, personnel humping cargo, and medics delivering emergency care to the victims, often took pictures of the devastation using digital cameras or even cheap disposable cameras. 

Since folks back on the ship including intel people thought these pictures might be useful, the were often processed using classified equipment (which could easily enhance the images or correct the color). The pictures were also sometimes sent over classified networks (Admiral, the attached pictures illustrate the extent of the damage in Bandar Aceh). Any of these actions instantly turned the pictures into classified documents.

This meant that the pictures could not then be passed on to people who might find them useful, including Indonesian government officials, relief workers, journalists, and even officials of US government agencies, such as the State Department or the Agency for International Development. Nor could the people who took the pictures keep them, even if they were taken with private equipment. 

There are two morals to this story. First, a process is needed to permit rapid declassificaiton of pictures and other items that are themselves not essential to national security, and, second, be careful what you use to pretty up that digital picture of your kids first birthday, lest it end up Top Secret.

 


Article Archive

Intelligence: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close