Wikileaks Warning Issued to Students at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs

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)”

Hi students,

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.”

The Lede (The New York Times)

Huffington Post

The Arabist

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

108 thoughts on “Wikileaks Warning Issued to Students at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs”

  1. [youtube=]

  2. Don’t forget Mr. Transparency: “The Obama administration is banning all federal staff from using government computers and other government communication devices to read the leaked diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks, saying they are still officially classified.

    The official says that the ban appears to extend to personal computers too.

    “At DHS (department of homeland security) we are getting regular messages [warning not to access classified records from Wikileaks],” the official said.” (The Guardian)

    This govt. is a sham POS run by even worse Pieces of Shit. The Nerd Rebellion is intensifying.

  3. Thanks for that, Buddha. (And Walt Kelly is more appropriate — I’ve often credited his creation, Pogo… — Kelly certainly had it right…)

    All it takes these days is to ruffle the wrong set of feathers… Though some of this craziness predates the Bush/Cheney cabal, it was ramped up after 9/11…

    But, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”…, to quote Yogi Berra, and let’s hope for a miracle. Because that’s what it’s gonna take…

    In the meantime, I am Julia Assange…

  4. Buddha,

    What a great history lesson and how to apply that lesson to today.

    A book of essays perhaps?

    At any rate … I’m going to cut and paste this and send it off to the kids for their enlightenment.

    Thank you, kind sir.

  5. Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the United States

    “This week, Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein engaged in acts of serious aggression against their own constituents, and the American people in general. They both invoked the 1917 Espionage Act and urged its use in going after Julian Assange. For good measure, Lieberman extended his invocation of the Espionage Act to include a call to use it to investigate the New York Times, which published WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables. Reports yesterday suggest that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder may seek to invoke the Espionage Act against Assange.

    These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans’ ignorance of their own history — an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act — a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used — was designed deliberately to be used — specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.

    The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 — because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens — educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists — who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted ‘crime’ of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the ‘crime’ of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut — Lieberman’s home state — were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.

    Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence in 1918 under the Espionage Act for daring to read the First Amendment in public. The roundup of ordinary citizens — charged with the Espionage Act — who were jailed for daring to criticize the government was so effective in deterring others from speaking up that the Act silenced dissent in this country for a decade. In the wake of this traumatic history, it was left untouched — until those who wish the same outcome began to try to reanimate it again starting five years ago, and once again, now. Seeing the Espionage Act rise up again is, for anyone who knows a thing about it, like seeing the end of a horror movie in which the zombie that has enslaved the village just won’t die.

    I predicted in 2006 that the forces that wish to strip American citizens of their freedoms, so as to benefit from a profitable and endless state of war — forces that are still powerful in the Obama years, and even more powerful now that the Supreme Court decision striking down limits on corporate contributions to our leaders has taken effect — would pressure Congress and the White House to try to breathe new life yet again into the terrifying Espionage Act in order to silence dissent. In 2005, Bush tried this when the New York Times ran its exposé of Bush’s illegal surveillance of banking records — the SWIFT program. This report was based, as is the WikiLeaks publication, on classified information. Then, as now, White House officials tried to invoke the Espionage Act against the New York Times. Talking heads on the right used language such as ‘espioinage’ and ‘treason’ to describe the Times’ release of the story, and urged that Bill Keller be tried for treason and, if found guilty, executed. It didn’t stick the first time; but, as I warned, since this tactic is such a standard part of the tool-kit for closing an open society — ‘Step Ten’ of the ‘Ten Steps’ to a closed society: ‘Rename Dissent ‘Espionage’ and Criticism of Government, ‘Treason’ — I knew, based on my study of closing societies, that this tactic would resurface.

    Let me explain clearly why activating — rather than abolishing — the Espionage Act is an act of profound aggression against the American people. We are all Julian Assange. Serious reporters discuss classified information every day — go to any Washington or New York dinner party where real journalists are present, and you will hear discussion of leaked or classified information. That is journalists’ job in a free society. The White House, too, is continually classifying and declassifying information.”

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” – Oath of Office, President of the United States, Art. II, Sec. 1, Cl. 8, U.S. Constitution. [emphasis added]

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” – Oath of Office, Vice President and members of Congress of the United States of America, as defined by statute since 1884. [emphasis added]

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Walt Kelly

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