Originally published in the October 1995 issue of Internet World

Seems the U.S. Air Force didn’t realize the power of e-mail, at least not until one of the pilots involved in the rescue of Scott O’Grady (who was shot down over Bosnia) put it to use. In a message he sent to some friends, Captain Scott Zobrist gave a detailed, first-hand account of the daring rescue, complete with types of weapons and code names used by the people involved.

The message was forwarded to other people and soon spread to the Internet. If he had sent his letter via any other media, Zobrist would have been punished for breach of secrecy, but because the military does not have a policy regarding the transfer of information over electronic networks, he wasn’t reprimanded.

“All members concerned, all the troops in Bosnia, have been reminded to take a serious look at what they send over e-mail and remember that once it’s out, they have no control over where it can spread,” said Major Ron Loves, a spokesman for the Air Force, which is currently working on formulating a policy regarding e-mail. Loves refused to comment further on the issue for fear of “influencing the proposals currently being investigated.”