WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite the ongoing shutdown and yesterday’s shooting near Capitol Hill, the U.S. government has apparently still found time to send out an internal e-mail to all federal and military employees reminding them that they are banned from seeing the upcoming Wikileaks film The Fifth Estate.
The government is enacting the ban due to the film's use of classified documents and other protected material.
"Whether you're at work, at home, or in a theater with hundreds of people, that doesn't change your responsibility to protect classified material and avoid unauthorized disclosure," reads the joint memorandum by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense. It was sent out to the entire federal government and U.S. military on Friday morning.
"Personnel seen in theaters may be prosecuted for unauthorized disclosure and viewing of classified information in an unauthorized medium in a non-secure facility," the document warns.
The message adds that all local military commands and government facilities not affected by the shutdown have been tasked with providing volunteers to monitor any theater in the country showing The Fifth Estate.
These personnel have been trained to spot the trademark high-and-tights and cheap suits which many federal employees and military personnel sport while off duty.
The document suggests that all employees avoid going to the movies at all while The Fifth Estate is in theaters, and should stay at home watching the unclassified movies, such as the musical comedy 1776.
Federal workers who do feel the need to go to the movies during this period should contact their Special Security Officer for a list of approved theaters in their area not showing the film.
The Fifth Estate is a biopic of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been accused of creating leaks all over the Internet, as well as several women in Sweden. It opens in theaters on October 18 and selected government intelligence facilities several days prior.
The U.S. government has complained that the film contains footage from a 2007 airstrike in Baghdad, popularly known as the Collateral Murder video, that was never declassified. It also contains images of multiple classified documents which have also not been properly cleared for release.
Ironically, the new policy puts the U.S. government in an uneasy alliance with Wikileaks itself, which protested the film by leaking its screenplay online.
This ban comes on top of already-existing bans on federal workers and their children from viewing the website Wikileaks, its Wikipedia entry, newspapers which write about it, or even acknowledging its existence.
Current guidance is that if someone brings up Wikileaks in conversation, government workers should place their hands over their ears while loudly singing the Star Spangled Banner, or if military the appropriate service hymn, and exit the area as quickly as possible.