State Department Warns Students Not to Discuss WikiLeaks on Social Networks
During the past week, we’ve witnessed the US government’s power over certain companies that followed its instructions and supported a free speech violation joining government’s full blown campaign to censor WikiLeaks.
Amazon and PayPal were among first to pull the plug on WikiLeaks. It seems like they were doing their part in disrupting the operation of the website adding force to the government’s attempt to prevent further dissemination of classified diplomatic cables. Both companies have issued statements saying that government pressure had nothing to do with their decisions to stop servicing WikiLeaks, but judging by the see of comments and blog posts flooding the Web, people are not convinced that they were not simply bowing to the government pressure.
Friday brought yet another shocking news about the act instrumented by the country’s leadership. The Library of Congress came out with the statement that they decided to block access to WikiLeaks to all users of the library. Many US citizens were outraged by this move, as the open political censorship is diluting the idea of America as a democratic society.
Adding a whole new dimension to the censorship of WikiLeaks was the State Department’s message to students of the School of International and Public Affairs. The future diplomats were warned by the Office of International and Public Affairs that they should not engage in commenting about secret US documents released by WikiLeaks across social networking websites. Columbia University students considering careers in diplomacy are warned by the Education Department in a letter not to be associated with the WikiLeaks disclosures of cables as it could affect their future careers in the State Department.
An email sent to students says: “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] 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.”
Posting comments or linking to WikiLeaks documents on social networks is seen as reason enough for students to fail security screening when applying for a government job. Even though the material is publicly released, the US government still considers it confidential.
State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, denied federal government involvement in this matter. Asked why Columbia would have sent the message to its students, Crowley said, “If an employee of the State Department sent such an email, it does not represent a formal policy position.”
At the same time, the US government has banned its employees from accessing the released diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks.
White House’s Office of Management and Budget send a message to all federal agencies, saying that “The recent disclosure of US government documents by WikiLeaks has resulted in damage to our national security.” It then said that “each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information” adding that a public release of classified documents doen’t imply they had been declassified.