FAS Note: On February 7, 2011 the Air Force rescinded the guidance below. The following statement was provided by Lt. Col. Richard L. Johnson of Air Force Headquarters:

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Command offers WikiLeaks guidance

Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs Report

2/3/2011 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The WikiLeaks releases in the past year have shown that the expanded use of computer networks and information sharing, while beneficial in many ways, can also have unintended and potentially harmful consequences.

The Nov. 28, 2010, WikiLeaks publication of sensitive U.S. documents detailed private U.S. diplomatic discussions with foreign governments. Previous postings concerned military and intelligence reports from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The leaked material prompted much discussion and many questions across the Department of Defense and the Air Force about what information service members should be allowed to access on the Web and what information should be restricted.

To assist the Air Force Materiel Command workforce, the command's legal and communication experts identified the key guidelines: DO NOT access the WikiLeaks information on government or personal computers; DO treat the leaked material like any other content assumed to be classified.

Classified information does not automatically become declassified as a result of unauthorized disclosure, and accessing the WikiLeaks site would introduce potentially classified information on unclassified networks. Guidance issued by the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force on Aug. 9, 2010, makes clear that Air Force personnel should not access the WikiLeaks website to view or download the publicized classified information.

Within AFMC, and across the Air Force, the WikiLeaks site has been blocked to protect the network. Other sites discovered to be posting the leaked information have also been blocked.

According to AFMC's legal office, Air Force members -- military or civilian -- may not legally access WikiLeaks at home on their personal, non-governmental computers, either.

"To do so [on a government or personal computer] would not only violate the SECAF guidance on this issue, a violation of which subjects the violator to prosecution for dereliction of duty or for engaging in prejudicial/service discrediting conduct, it would also subject the violator to prosecution for violation of espionage under the Espionage Act," they said.

Also according to the legal office, "if a family member of an Air Force employee accesses WikiLeaks on a home computer, the family member may be subject to prosecution for espionage under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 793. The Air Force member would have an obligation to safeguard the information under the general guidance to safeguard classified information."

Essentially, Air Force employees should treat the WikiLeaks information like any other content assumed to be classified.

Source: Air Force Materiel Command (document withdrawn on February 7, 2011)