US Government Threatens Employees and College Students On WikiLeaks
Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow is reporting that the State Department has been warning University students about accessing or commenting on WikiLeaks documents. They recently contacted Columbia University to pass on the following message to students who may hope to one day work for the government:
From: Office of Career Services <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM
Subject: Wikileaks – Advice from an alum
We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.
The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.
Office of Career Services
Additionally, Goodman revealed that the United States Agency For International Development (USAID) issued the following memo to its thousands of employees:
“Any classified information that may have been unlawfully disclosed and released on the Wikileaks web site was not ‘declassified’ by an appopriate authority and therefore requires continued classification and protection as such from government personnel… Accessing the Wikileaks web site from any computer may be viewed as a violation of the SF-312 agreement… Any discussions concerning the legitimacy of any documents or whether or not they are classified must be conducted within controlled access areas (overseas) or within restricted areas (USAID/Washington)… The documents should not be viewed, downloaded, or stored on your USAID unclassified network computer or home computer; they should not be printed or retransmitted in any fashion.“
Sounds like the US Government believes it can put this 250k genie nicely and neatly back into the bottle. Can information that has been put in the public domain — viewed by perhaps millions, written about in the international press — still be considered classified?
The Guardian is now reporting:
The Obama administration is banning hundreds of thousands of federal employees from calling up the WikiLeaks site on government computers because the leaked material is still formally regarded as classified.
The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place.
Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected.
The move comes at a time when civil rights and other liberal groups are becoming increasingly critical, inviting parallels with the kind of bans on information imposed by China and other oppressive governments.