Sunday, December 05, 2010

Leaked Cables? What Leaked Cables?

Yesterday evening, news broke that the Obama administration had warned federal government employees to refrain from downloading or linking to any of the recently leaked diplomatic cables currently available on Wikileaks. The Office of Management and Budget, who sent the notice out on Friday, justified this directive by including this in the notice: "classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors."

I would argue that if the information is being perused by every foreign government, allies and enemies alike, we should not be concerned with our own people being aware of the gossip taking place at the international water cooler. By forbidding federal employees from learning about the damage as a result of WikiLeaks firsthand, the US government is effectively telling its own employees that they aren't to be trusted. Furthermore, if I were a soldier, and the top brass told me to not look at the leaked cables, I would worry that the cables held information that would affect me directly, information that my enemies would have complete access to while I'm completely oblivious.

To be fair, the notice mentioned that federal employees will still be able to read news stories about the leaked cables. But these secrets aren't secrets anymore. The Obama administration should accept that.

On another note, schools such as Columbia University are pressuring their Diplomacy students to not access the leaked cables on WikiLeaks because it "would call into question [their] ability to deal with confidential information."
I could point out that this wouldn't even be an issue if the federal government itself had correctly dealt with the confidential information in the first place, but that would be a low blow. Instead I'll say this: because I want a fancy government job one day, I'll steer clear of the cables and only read what the New York Times has vetted. But there are many interested parties who would use these thousands of documents against the US if they could. If such nefarious scheming is taking place, I'm sure they are delighted to know that the only people kept in the dark is us.


Dirty Hairy said...

Also, I'm curious as to what Patterson's official take on this will be... Emulate the Ivy League or go rogue?

Cassandra said...

I think we've been told to "look but don't touch." Read but don't print. These weren't our secrets to keep so it seems silly to hold us responsible for keeping them secret, which is delusional since they're very very public already.