There's a message going out, from someone at the State Department to students at some Ivy League colleges, possibly many, that they should not link to or even discuss wikileaks or related material on facebook, Twitter or related social media sites.
The NY Times confirms
this, reporting, " Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs
, which grooms future diplomats, has confirmed to The Lede that it did send an e-mail to students this week warning them to avoid posting comments online about the leaked diplomatic cables, if they ever hope to work for the State Department."
It's confirmed that a message was sent to students at Columbia and Georgetown Universities and there is speculation that it has also been sent to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other Ivy League universities.
, from the Columia Office of Career Services, was posted on the website of Columbia student, Issandr El Amrani. It read :
From: "Office of Career Services"
Date: November 30, 2010 15:26:53 EST:
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
The comments posted on student, Amrani's website
after the email, confirm that similar letters have been sent to Georgetown students. A number of the comments attack the idea, others support the suggestion that even discussing Wikileaks on social media sites could kill a career. Others like commenter Taylor Wray
, suggest that the government is going to end up with a bad situation:
Don't try to compete with WikiLeaks when it comes to the grassroots, State Department. You'll end up recruiting a bunch of young, conservative secrecy hawks who will, in the long term, only open you up to yet more WikiLeaks. As a part of our government that desperately needs manpower in order to fulfill it's expanded mission set in Afghanistan and elsewhere, State should be co-opting the popularity WikiLeaks has immediately brought to the foreign policy field in order to make their jobs look more desirable, not rejecting the most exciting development in foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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Philip J. Crowley, spokesman for the State Department, denied in an email message any federal involvement:
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.
It is not clear that the advisory was an official state department declaration. Then again, state departments often use under the table communications and issue messages with the understanding that they will deny ever saying anything.
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