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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: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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