Exclusive: Mattis seeking to ban cell phones from Pentagon

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is actively considering banning US military and civilian personnel from bringing th...

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 11:42 AM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 11:42 AM

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is actively considering banning US military and civilian personnel from bringing their personal cell phones into the Pentagon, the world's largest office building, according to three US defense officials familiar with an ongoing review of the issue.

The officials told CNN that while the issue is under review and a final decision has not been made, the recent revelations that a fitness tracking app that maps people's exercise habits could pose security risks for US troops has only underscored the need for the review.

The officials added that the review was ordered after Mattis expressed his intent to ban personal cell phones in the Pentagon.

A defense official told CNN that the intelligence about the risk of cell phone vulnerabilities that drove the Pentagon's review is the same intelligence that helped lead to a similar ban of personal cell phones among White House staffers in the West Wing, a ban that went into effect this month.

"We takes threats to security seriously and are always looking into any potential additional measures to further enhance the security of our of Department of Defense personnel," Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Audricia Harris told CNN when asked about the review.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday that Mattis had been recently briefed on the issue of wearable devices and that the Department of Defense was reviewing policy regarding the use of smartphones and wearable devices by military personnel.

There are approximately 23,000 military and civilian staff that work in the Pentagon.

There is no cell signal in the majority of the building and rooms with classified and sensitive information as well as computers require those entering to place their cell phones in an outside box or locker prior to entry.

Two defense officials told CNN that the current review was sparked by a small number of cases of Pentagon employees improperly bringing their personal devices into classified areas.

Multiple officials said that given the large number of people working at the Pentagon, many of them commuting in by public transit, the logistical challenges of installing lockers or other means to allow staff to store their personal cell phones upon entering the building will be the biggest challenge to implementing a ban, casting doubt on its feasibility, with one defense official saying that given all the challenges the ban was unlikely to come into effect.

Two officials said one possible remedy will be tighter enforcement of the rules that are already in place, with one official saying that additional screening technology could be emplaced at the entrances of those classified areas to prevent cell phones from being brought in.

The White House took similar action earlier this month with regard to personal cell phone use, issuing a memorandum prohibiting staffers from carrying personal cell phones into the West Wing, citing similar security concerns.

That plan was floated by White House Chief of Staff retired Gen. John Kelly in July but was not executed until this month.

Officials told CNN that the move prompted widespread frustration among staffers, many of whom are questioning how they are expected to stay in touch with their families and spouses while often working 12-hour days.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313942

Reported Deaths: 7240
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21580258
Hinds20330415
Harrison17879309
Rankin13594278
Jackson13429246
Madison10088217
Lee9970174
Jones8370163
Forrest7670152
Lauderdale7188241
Lowndes6387146
Lamar622486
Lafayette6184118
Washington5332133
Bolivar4801132
Oktibbeha462198
Panola4582106
Pearl River4506146
Marshall4435103
Warren4386121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4107133
Union410076
Neshoba4030176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock378486
Leflore3493125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3316105
Scott315773
Alcorn312768
Yazoo311469
Itawamba299777
Copiah296865
Coahoma295179
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Prentiss279760
Adams278782
Marion269080
Leake267473
Wayne262641
Grenada261386
Covington258281
George247848
Newton246261
Winston227081
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Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182433
Tallahatchie178541
Clarke177980
Calhoun170532
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105226
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96533
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67230
Jefferson65528
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531404

Reported Deaths: 10985
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson765501522
Mobile41036805
Madison34789503
Tuscaloosa25788453
Montgomery24340589
Shelby23449249
Baldwin21154308
Lee15882171
Calhoun14511314
Morgan14306279
Etowah13843353
Marshall12232223
Houston10570281
Elmore10068205
Limestone9974151
Cullman9676194
St. Clair9661243
Lauderdale9427241
DeKalb8831186
Talladega8227176
Walker7241277
Autauga6926108
Jackson6814112
Blount6678137
Colbert6306134
Coffee5519119
Dale4838111
Russell441538
Chilton4296112
Franklin426082
Covington4129118
Tallapoosa4023152
Escambia393677
Chambers3573123
Dallas3551152
Clarke351161
Marion3122101
Pike310977
Lawrence300398
Winston274473
Bibb260964
Geneva250477
Marengo249564
Pickens234461
Barbour231057
Hale223077
Butler216069
Fayette212562
Henry188844
Cherokee185245
Randolph180542
Monroe177540
Washington167339
Macon159650
Clay156756
Crenshaw152557
Cleburne148941
Lamar142535
Lowndes138853
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Perry107726
Coosa107628
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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