Monday, November 28, 2022
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Dec 8

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, December 08, 2010 9:52 AM 

This is getting creepy.

From LibraryJournal.com (links from the original):

The Library of Congress (LC) has been blocking access to the WikiLeaks website since December 3, on its wireless network available for visitors as well as on its own staff's computers, according to a report on the Talking Points Memo (TPM) Muckraker website. It's the first time that the LC has blocked WikiLeaks, and it comes on the heels of an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo advising federal agencies on policies regarding classified information. ...

The OMB memo does not call for agencies to block access to any websites, but the notice does state that federal employees and contractors may not access classified material on non-classified government systems, "including classified documents available on WikiLeaks and other websites."

This requirement does not apply to "publicly available news reports (and other non-classified material) that may in turn discuss classified material, as distinguished from access to the underlying documents that themselves are marked classified." LC is not, for example, blocking access to newspapers that have reported on the leaks.

Yet?** See below for Update

The OMB, which is part of the executive branch, has no direct authority over the Library of Congress—which, as its name implies, is under the jurisdiction of the legislative branch. But like all government agencies, the LC is subject to federal laws regarding classified information.

Librarians react
The LC action quickly sparked criticism in the library world.

On December 4, the Progressive Librarian Guild (PLG) posted a statement on its website urging the American Library Association to issue a formal condemnation of the LC's actions. It reads, in part: "We call on the American Library Association (ALA) to condemn unequivocally this move by the Library of Congress to actively conspire in preventing access to information in the public interest. Blocking access to this published information is censorship, plain and simple, and supporting sanctions against reading is endorsing abridgment of intellectual freedom."...

WikiLeaks and academia
In other WikiLeaks news, several sources, including the Huffington Post and the New York Times blog, the Lede, reported last week that Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) had sent an email on November 30 to its students warning them not to post comments online about the WikiLeaks documents on Facebook or Twitter—as it might compromise their chances for working for the federal government in the future.

This is getting really creepy.

According to the email, SIPA's Office of Career Services received a call from an unidentified SIPA alumnus now working at the State Department, who recommended that students don't post links to or make comments about WikiLeaks documents, as "[e]ngaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions in the federal government." The email seemed to imply that such activities could turn up in a background investigation when students applied for federal jobs.

On December 6, according to a report on Wired's Threat Level blog, SIPA Dean John Coatsworth sent out an email in an apparent reversal of SIPA's position. It read, in part:

"Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution. Thus, SIPA's position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences. The WikiLeaks documents are accessible to SIPA students (and everyone else) from a wide variety of respected sources, as are multiple means of discussion and debate both in and outside of the classroom."

According to a blog post by James Fallows at The Atlantic website, an assistant dean at the Boston University School of Law sent out a similar email to students on December 1.

** Update: When I asked "Yet?" above, I didn't actually think newspapers would come into the WikiEquation. But here's Sen. Joe Liberman calling for an investigation into the NYT:

"To me The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, but whether they have committed a crime — I think that bears a very intense inquiry by the Justice Department," Lieberman told Fox News on Tuesday."

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