I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving reading the cables released by wikileaks the last week; some of it, like I’ve said before is old news, but reading the cables gives an insight in to the assumptions and the world view of the American administration and its diplomats, and that is fascinating. Lucky for me, I’m British; for it turns out, if you are American, it is technically illegal for you to read the documents made by the governments you voted in to office.
The following story was lifted from the Vancouver Sun:
The White House ordered government agencies Friday to block employees from accessing WikiLeaks from official computers, saying the diplomatic cables leaked by the website remain classified documents.
“The recent disclosure of U.S. government documents by WikiLeaks has resulted in damage to our national security,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a message to all federal agencies obtained by AFP.
It reminded them that “each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information” and said the whistleblower website’s public release of U.S. diplomatic cables did not mean they had been declassified.
“Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog or on websites) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents,” the OMB said.
“To the contrary, 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, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. government authority.”
The Library of Congress was among the institutions that blocked access to WikiLeaks, prompting the website to say on its Twitter feed the move signaled “end times” for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing free speech.
In a post on the Library of Congress blog, communications director Matt Raymond confirmed that access to Wikileaks was being blocked and rejected accusations of censorship.
“The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information,” Raymond said.
“In other words, the site is being blocked not out of censorship, but because providing the information that is there is illegal.
“The Library is prohibited both by federal law and our own regulations from providing public access to classified information” he added.
So there you have it. Any American that has taken it upon themselves to read classified documents has been unpatriotic in the extreme. Do not aid and abet disseminators of privileged information; you have been warned.
Of course, us Britishers could see this all coming. It’s why we burnt down the White House in 1812. Only trying to save you from yourselves…