Agencies, contractors blocking Wikileaks content

Monday - 12/6/2010, 3:30pm EST

Wikileaks has made public hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, but the government is still treating those documents are classified.

Federal employees and contractors are forbidden from accessing Wikileaks classified documents, according to The Office of Management and Budget's notice on Friday.

Federal employees are warned against downloading classified documents from Wikileaks, but OMB does not forbid federal employees from reading news stories about the topic, The New York Times reports. And the directive does not tell agencies to block access to the Wikileaks site, although some agencies have gone ahead and done that, according to the Times.

The Library of Congress is blocking access to the Wikileaks site from its computer system, creating a problem for the Congressional Research Service.

CRS is a component of LOC but is also supposed to act with autonomy, Secrecy News reports. A former CRS employee said in Secrecy News that the block would "clearly diminish the weight of some of the analysis" by CRS, particularly on foreign policy issues.

The government's top defense contractors are also blocking Wikileaks content. One company is even blocking any website with the word "wikileaks" in the url, Talking Points Memo reports.

Diplomat reshuffling
The most recent Wikileaks release has the State Department scrambling to reassign diplomats mentioned in the cables, The Daily Beast reports.

The cables' content has compromised the position of some U.S. embassy personnel and even put some in danger, according the The Daily Beast.

The reshuffling will weaken U.S. foreign policy by removing "some of our best people" needed for analysis and truthful reporting, said a senior U.S. national-security official in the article.

The Wikileaks cables also mention a list of sites "vital to national interest," The Daily Beast reports. The places include a Cobalt mine in the Congo, a Danish insulin plant, an anti-snake venom manufacturer in Australia.

Long-term WikiLeaks impact
The diplomatic cables may be embarrassing to State, but The New York Times argues that the content actually points to the strength of U.S. diplomacy. Perhaps the cables can be viewed as "good gossip," according to the Times.

The cables don't show deliberate lies and misrepresentations, like what the Pentagon papers revealed. Instead, the documents "actually reflect well on U.S. policy and diplomacy," the Times reports.

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