By Lauren Indvik
A State Department official warned students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs this week that discussing WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter could endanger their employment prospects.
The official, a former student of the school, called the career services office of his alma mater to advise students not to post links to WikiLeaks documents, nor to make comments on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as “engaging in these activities would call into question [a student's] ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government,” he was quoted as saying in an e-mail sent to students by the career services office on Tuesday.
The warning coincided with WikiLeaks’s release of thousands of secret U.S. embassy cables on Sunday, November 28. The site has since been plagued by multiple DDoS attacks, and termination of service notifications from its DNS provider, EveryDNS.net, its temporary website host, Amazon, and PayPal, which handled many of the donations the organization received.
Student Issandr El Amrani posted a copy of the e-mail on his blog on Thursday, the same day Senator Joseph Lieberman and other lawmakers proposed legislation that would hold those who publish the names of any U.S. intelligence sources “criminally accountable.” A full copy of the e-mail, which the career services office has since confirmed sending, is pasted below:
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
According to an e-mail sent by spokesperson Phillip J. Crowley to The Huffington Post, the warning does not, however, represent a formal policy position. “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,” he wrote.
Employees in the State Department are among the many government workers who were told by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget not to view the leaked documents without the required security clearance on Friday.
Although you may not be going for a job at the State Department any time soon, does the warning nevertheless make you wary of discussing WikiLeaks on public forums such as Facebook and Twitter?