State Dept to students: Don’t read WikiLeaks!

As an educator it was particularly disturbing to learn this week that a State Department employee and alumnus of the Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) felt the need to warn them not to read WikiLeaks.

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.

Apart from the prima facie ludicrousness of the statement, however unofficial (which was passed on to the students by Columbia and other schools), which applies “to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government” which would appear to infringe on First Amendment rights, how exactly will this work? These cables have been reproduced in thousands of blogs and Twitter posts, not to mention  newspapers around the world. Are we supposed to snap the paper shut when we read a news story mention ing WikiLeaks in case we form an opinion about it which we might express?

The cat’s out of the bag. It seems to me that State is embarrassed and this is a threat motivated by CYA. This threat is the wrong message to send to students.

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