The figures come from a new software package called Wikiscanner, which lists the owners or hosts of Internet Protocol addresses associated with edits to Wikipedia -- the popular online encyclopedia, collectively written and edited by its readers.
The Wikiscanner figures show computers using IP addresses registered to Department of Homeland Security networks had made 4,018 edits as of Aug. 4, making them the fourth most prolific editors in the .gov domain -- just ahead of the House of Representatives but behind the state government of California and Department of Veterans Affairs. NASA was the U.S. agency from which the most changes were made.
The editing done from Homeland Security computers ranges from the benign -- updating information about departmental employees or plans to move its headquarters, and adding external links to department sites -- to the bizarre -- adding “All these theories are retarded!” to the page about Sept. 11 conspiracies; or references to an article in the satirical newspaper The Onion about porn videos allegedly made by former U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abrahams to his page.
A quick survey of the edits reveals most of them to be changes to pages about non-homeland security-related matters, such as TV shows, movies and books.
There are, however, a number of possibly self-interested politically sensitive edits -- adding critical text to pages about Democratic presidential candidates Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Sen. John Edwards, or removing it from pages about President Bush.
The department had no substantive comment about the edits. “I cannot confirm those numbers,” department spokesman Russ Knocke told United Press International.
Shaun Waterman, UPI Homeland and National Security Editor