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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: 338079

Reported Deaths: 7523
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23409440
DeSoto23069280
Harrison20064328
Rankin15119290
Jackson14743251
Madison10806227
Lee10568179
Jones8864169
Forrest8408159
Lauderdale7684243
Lowndes6917151
Lamar683789
Lafayette6502124
Washington5551139
Pearl River5060150
Bolivar4923134
Oktibbeha484798
Panola4739112
Warren4690127
Marshall4670106
Pontotoc442873
Monroe4293137
Union429179
Neshoba4232181
Hancock417788
Lincoln4148116
Pike3605113
Leflore3587125
Tate351488
Alcorn346474
Sunflower344994
Adams338488
Scott336676
Yazoo335673
Simpson319290
Copiah319068
Itawamba312480
Coahoma311585
Tippah300568
Prentiss295063
Covington287183
Marion281780
Leake281575
Wayne274643
Grenada267588
George266251
Newton258964
Tishomingo238070
Winston236284
Jasper227548
Attala223373
Stone219437
Chickasaw217560
Holmes197674
Clay194654
Clarke184480
Tallahatchie182742
Calhoun179432
Smith177535
Yalobusha170240
Walthall144448
Lawrence140026
Greene137634
Amite135643
Noxubee134235
Perry132438
Montgomery131544
Carroll125431
Webster119132
Jefferson Davis114234
Tunica113227
Benton105925
Claiborne104831
Kemper101429
Humphreys99833
Franklin86723
Quitman84319
Choctaw81819
Wilkinson76532
Jefferson70428
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 574737

Reported Deaths: 11492
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson839571589
Mobile46611857
Madison36938532
Tuscaloosa26841465
Shelby26769255
Montgomery25853624
Baldwin24213326
Lee16897181
Calhoun15210332
Morgan14990289
Etowah14721369
Marshall12855235
Houston11661292
Elmore10727217
St. Clair10587250
Limestone10535158
Cullman10323204
Lauderdale10044253
DeKalb9335191
Talladega8797187
Walker7659286
Autauga7456114
Jackson7295117
Blount7233139
Colbert6614142
Coffee6117131
Dale5393117
Russell467742
Chilton4666117
Covington4623125
Franklin447281
Tallapoosa4420157
Escambia425282
Chambers3880125
Dallas3707163
Clarke366462
Marion3413106
Pike326979
Lawrence3211101
Winston293972
Bibb282965
Geneva274283
Marengo259067
Barbour245161
Pickens239662
Butler237672
Hale232378
Fayette225064
Henry206645
Randolph196144
Monroe195041
Cherokee194548
Washington179339
Macon168352
Crenshaw165058
Clay163659
Cleburne159945
Lamar149738
Lowndes144854
Wilcox129831
Bullock126042
Conecuh119530
Coosa116729
Perry109928
Sumter108732
Greene98336
Choctaw63925
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Thursday will be another very hot and very humid day across Mississippi and Alabama. Many areas will be well above 100 degrees with the heat index, some even as high as 120 degrees in the Delta of Mississippi.
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