The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University has acknowledged that it sent an email to its students with a warning that students refrain from making comments about the leaked diplomatic cables on social media sites like Facebook or via Twitter and from posting links to the documents if they ever hope to work for the State Department in the future. The email from an unnamed individual at the school’s Office of Career Services reportedly relayed a recommendation made by a school alumnus in a telephone call to the school. According to the email, the alumnus works for the State Department at the present time.
Following is a copy of the email:
From: Office of Career Services
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM
Subject: Wikileaks – Advice from an alum
To: “Office of Career Services (OCS)”
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
Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokeman, however, has denied any federal involvement in relaying any such message about Wikileaks to anyone outside the State Department. Crowley reportedly said: “This is not true. We have instructed State Department employees not to access the WikiLeaks site and download posted documents using an unclassified network since these documents are still classified. We condemn what Mr. Assange is doing, but have given no advice to anyone beyond the State Department to my knowledge.”
When questioned why Columbia would have sent the message to its students, Crowley replied: “If an employee of the State Department sent such an email, it does not represent a formal policy position.”
Updated to add the following link to a Huffington Post article dated 12/6/2010:
Columbia University Walks Back Anti-WikiLeaks Advice
(My thanks go to eniobob for that link.)
– Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger