State Department warns students not to discuss leaks online

Posted: December 4, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Saw this story from the Huffington Post, courtesy of a friend.  The HP reprints the email sent around to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, all kind of word-of-mouth, that online discussion of the documents released by WikiLeaks can/will jeopardize one’s prospects of being hired by the government.

An email from SIPA’s Office of Career Services went out Tuesday afternoon with a caution from the official, an alumnus of the school. Students who will be applying for jobs in the federal government could jeopardize their prospects by posting links to WikiLeaks online, or even by discussing the leaked documents on social networking sites, the official was quoted as saying.

“[The alumnus] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter,” the Office of Career Services advised students. “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.”

I’m really not sure what I think about this…I suppose it makes sense at some level, but for better or worse those documents are now in the public domain.  Whether or not they were classified makes little difference now; that’s the nature of communication, especially in the digital age.  And while it’s certainly the State Department’s prerogative to gauge a prospect’s trustworthiness in this way, some part of me as a U.S. citizen rankles at being told, by a U.S. government agency, what I should and should not talk about, especially when the subject, for one reason or another, is now public.  I don’t know…I guess I might have just shot my prospects of working for the State Department, though depending on the academic job situation, I’ll probably take the exam some time next year.

In the mean time, the debate over the actual effects of this leak continues.  As the BBC pointed out in an article earlier today, there really isn’t much leaked now that wasn’t already known.  “Wikileaks,” says the columnist, “are like peanuts – absolutely addictive, but in the end curiously unsatisfying.”  Falls in line with what I’ve gathered of how these things work.  There will be new headlines tomorrow, after all.  Of course, there the negative perspective: Clabough at the New American takes a sinister Glenn Beck-ish view of the incident.  On the whole, I’d recommend The New Republic column from yesterday, December 3, by David Rieff, for a good overview of the issues and the news coverage.

Oh well, back to medieval documents.  I’ll leave politics to the politicians, pundits, and (self-proclaimed?)  foreign affairs experts.  For now, anyway.



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