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January 26th, 2009
05:24 PM ET

Can I get classified military information in my MP3 player too?

Mike Mount
CNN Senior Pentagon Producer

Did you hear the one about the guy from New Zealand who bought a used MP-3 player with a bunch of U.S. military files left on it?

According to a television station in that country, a man bought the used digital music player from a thrift store while visiting Oklahoma, only to find dozens of files with personal information on US troops including social security numbers and cell phone numbers.

Some of the files reportedly also included a mission plan and military equipment deployed on certain U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

All of the information on the player is information not publicly releasable by the U.S. military.

The files date back to 2005, according to the report, and many of the operational plans are most likely outdated; however the U.S. military would like to know how a device with that information on it ended up at a thrift store…as would unsuspecting troops who have their social security numbers sitting on a now publicly-available music player in New Zealand.

The Pentagon is not saying much because military officials have not seen the music player or the information on it first hand.

“We are aware of the story but until we can take a look at the device, there is not much we can say because we have not seen whether it is actual Department of Defense information,” according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Gary Keck.

The new owner of the MP-3 player told the New Zealand television station he is willing to let the military see what’s on it, but protocol requires the U.S. State Department to ask the government of New Zealand to ask the man if he is willing to hand it over to be examined.

The man who bought the device for only a few dollars isn’t impressed with the information on it, and really does not know what most of it means.

“I guess maybe if I went to military school I might have an idea,” told the TV station.

U.S. military officials do not yet know if the U.S. government will pursue getting the information from the man.


Filed under: Pentagon • Technology
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Justin

    This is why we are open for attack. This guy / girl should be taken out of the military and jailed. Luckily, this guy had a heart and turned it in. DOES HE KNOW ? DID HE TELL ? Doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out files.

    January 27, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  2. panha

    i am really suprised about the magic MP3.

    January 27, 2009 at 3:40 am |
  3. Swift

    70,000 Jobs lost, I can understand why Erica isn't smiling, but a smile is an inexpensive way to improve her looks, and I promise I can make her smile and scream out in Joy, PF Changs, anytime you can pencil me in.

    January 27, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  4. tina_washington

    Technology is great but why waste money on this when it is prone to security breach? Can politicians stick to the normal and proven security protocols. Save the technology cost and instead fix your effort and desire to change America by fixing the economic problems.

    January 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  5. carole

    Obama's interviews in the background have displayed the color yellow – in a drape, flowers, etc. Do you know what the color yellow means in different lands? Is this a silent message being sent?

    January 26, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  6. Deseree Pleitner

    I did't hear about it but wow that guy could have used all that info to his advantage.I wonder how scared the previous owner felt when this happened?^-^;

    January 26, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  7. Mary Jackson

    As a retired African American teacher I feel that we as consumers should not purchase those dolls that have the Obama girls names attached to them. I have two grandaughters and I will not be buying them. Maybe the White House can't do anything about it, but I urge consumers not to buy them. They are very ugly and not appealing at all. They should do unto others as they would have them do unto them.

    January 26, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  8. Neil

    Wow, talk about a security leak. And we store classified info on MP3 players now? I'm all for technology, but this is ridiculous.

    January 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm |