Bizzare US Army document

Today, the Center for Army Lessons Learned in the US published online a US Army study of Operation Iraqi Freedom – On Point, The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is very interesting that this article has been published with the following leader:

This document has security features enabled to prevent printing, downloading, cutting and pasting. Printable PDF files will be released at a later date, and links will be posted when they become available.

Of course, this immediately got my interest. A print preview in Firefox initially showed blank pages. Trying to highlight the contents of the page failed. Viewing source also showed a blank page. Very odd.

Of course, a couple of minutes fiddling got around all these security features. The Firefox Web Developer Toolbar allowed me to turn of stylesheets, making the page printable. Turning off javascript enabled copying and pasting the document. It is necessary to turn JavaScript back on in order to visit other pages, but it is easy enough to turn it off again. Opening the files in internet explorer allowed me to view the source in Notepad.

This in turn was very interesting. The HTML has been encoded, yet the decoding is automatic in any JavaScript browser – an encryption system that sends the decryption keys along with the encrypted message. Very strange.

Strangest of all is the claim at the bottom of the page.

This page is in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act.

All this JavaScript pseudo-encryption will almost certainly make the pages inaccessible to a whole multitude of people that are supposed to be enabled by Section 508.

I wonder what the hell these people think they are achieving. It wasn’t easy to do this. A lot harder than it was to get round it!

Of course, they have managed to whet my appetite, so I spent an hour copying and pasting the whole thing into Word so I can read it offline. Came to over 500 pages, and over 10Mb… So I won’t be posting it here. Probably a bittorrent job. If you are interested let me know…

Thanks to Stephen Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists for bringing this strange episode to my attention in the excellent Secrecy News newsletter.

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