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Graduate Students Being Warned Away From Leaked Cables 685

Posted by timothy
from the we're-checking-your-history dept.
IamTheRealMike writes "The US State Department has started to warn potential recruits from universities not to read leaked cables, lest it jeopardize their chances of getting a job. They're also showing warnings to troops who access news websites and the Library of Congress and Department of Education have blocked WikiLeaks on their own networks. Quite what happens when these employees go home is an open question." Update: 12/04 17:48 GMT by T : The friendly warning to students specifically cautioned them not to comment online or otherwise indicate that they'd read any of the leaked information; reading them quietly wasn't specifically named as a deal-breaker.
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Graduate Students Being Warned Away From Leaked Cables

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  • by EnglishTim (9662) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:06PM (#34439458)

    The mail doesn't say anything about not reading them, just not posting about them.

    I guess they're saying "Don't leave any evidence that you read them"...

  • by guspasho (941623) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:07PM (#34439476)

    Here is Wikileaks' own torrent of the cables. http://file.wikileaks.org/torrent/cablegate/cablegate-201012031001.7z.torrent [wikileaks.org]

    Spread them far and wide. Fight the bastards.

  • Not why... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:18PM (#34439586) Journal

    They said to not post about it in Facebook and the like. The reason why is more self-protection for the students who may want or need a security clearance later on.

    If you've ever had to get a higher-end security clearance (I've had them both in the military and as a civilian), you would know just how anal and frustratingly detailed the FBI and DSA can get when it comes to investigating your background (interesting tidbit - if you have a debt that's more than 180 days past due - for any reason, even if you didn't know about it, you get denied. I had a former co-worker get his clearance initially rejected because he never saw the $20.odd account closing fee sent by an old cell phone company to his old address).

    As crazy as the investigations can get, coupled with the government's ability to dredge through your online presence over the years, it's common-sense to not go around spouting off about things that the government is obviously going to be sensitive about if you ever expect to work for them in a sensitive role at some point in the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:18PM (#34439590)

    I grew up in Communist Poland from the 1950s to the 1970s. Censorship was a very prevalent phenomenon. But it was never as bad as what we're seeing today in America.

    Rarely did we see the state-run libraries outright blocking access to controversial information. They would provide fabricated material, of course, but other content was easily available for those who dug a little bit.

    It is completely absurd to see what should be the most prominent purveyors of information of all sorts, especially in a country that claims to value freedoms so much, putting so much effort towards blocking the spread of information!

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:19PM (#34439612)

    If you have a security clearance, you are not allowed to talk about classified materials, even if you only know of those materials from an out of channel source (the news). You are also not allowed to seek out classified material that you do not need to know. If a person has had access to classified material without authorization beforehand, it can complicate the process of gaining a security clearance.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:2, Informative)

    by icebike (68054) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:24PM (#34439676)

    What part of Main stream press do you not understand?

    To be fair, the linked story only said they should nor link to these documents or post them. That seems fair enough, as anyone with a facebook page can't be trusted with secrets anyway.

    It didn't say that they should not READ the documents.

    Security clearances are about what you DO with information, not about how you come by it.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dan East (318230) on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:26PM (#34439692) Homepage Journal

    Who's panicking? Did you even look at the source for the "The US State Dept has started to warn potential recruits"? This is one of the most blatantly false things I've seen at Slashdot in a while. The source is an Arab blog which says that a State Dept employee sent a message to his Alumni recommending they do not post links to or otherwise comment on the documents online. This is not official, and it was one anonymous recommendation to a small group of people the employee felt he should give advice to.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:34PM (#34439776)

    I'm retired military, now working as a government contractor with a security clearance. We were specifically told not to read the documents and not to visit the Wikileaks site, even from our home computer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @08:51PM (#34439934)

    and I have been specifically told by our gov't security folks that if I access Wikileaks (either via my work computer or my home computer) I will lose my security clearance. I can understand them making a rule not to view it at work and taking away someone's clearance if they do it anyway, but I really don't see how they can legally take away someone's clearance for looking at a website on their home computer that basically ever major news outlet has shown screenshots of.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Main Gauche (881147) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:03PM (#34440038)

    it surprises me that the government wants their potential employees to be less informed than the general public.

    And as it turns out, that is not the case at all. Imagine that, a completely misleading summary on slashdot.

    Summary says: :The US State Dept has started to warn potential recruits from universities not to read leaked cables,"

    TFA says: Columbia University career services got a recommendation from an alumnus that if you want a job with the State Dept, he recommends
    "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."

    So,
    (1) This is not official policy; it is an alumnus giving personal advice to undergrads at his alma mater.
    (2) It has nothing to do with reading/not reading wikileaks.

    I really have to spend less time reading /. summaries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:09PM (#34440112)

    which is affiliated with SLAC, an academic research DOE lab that is run by my university. We were just warned about accessing wikileaks using government resources. I wonder why they haven't warned against accessing news sources who have published the cables? The email follows:

    To: SLAC Staff and Community
    Subject: Do Not Access wikileaks.org Using Government Resources

    The Department of Energy has determined that anyone using a DOE resource to access wikileaks.org poses a serious security risk. An extract from an official DOE communication is included here:

    -----
    Any users navigating to wikileaks.org will pose a serious risk of introducing classified information to an unclassified machine. Clem Boylston, CISO for the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence sent out a note to the community stating, “Any document that is on an Internet web site that is purported to be classified cannot be downloaded to an unclassified computer system without contaminating the unclassified computer system (i.e., a spill).” In this case, “downloaded” would not only mean the actual process of saving it to the hard drive, but also the simple case of viewing it as the information is cached on the local machine when doing so.

    Anyone using their DOE computer to view the purported classified information posted on the website would merit involvement to the appropriate DOE authorities for a full review and analysis of severity
    -----

    Accordingly, no SLAC resource (i.e., computer, network, VPN, SLAC wireless) may be used to access or assist in accessing wikileaks.org by any SLAC staff member or visitor.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday December 03, 2010 @09:23PM (#34440242)
    The hard drives would not be destroyed. There are multiple approved cleanup procedures which overwrite the disk blocks which contained the data. The people who have clearances all know to contact their local security officer, and not simply delete the file/email in question. If the email server operates under a delete after the client has received the mail, the free disk space would need to be scrubbed in a similar manner. It also depends on the underlying storage media. Some arrays will have multiple copies etc....
  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday December 03, 2010 @11:15PM (#34440910)

    How about the Classified Information Non-Disclosure agreement which you have to sign to get a clearance?
    http://www.archives.gov/isoo/security-forms/sf312.pdf [archives.gov] All of the laws referenced in the agreement, apply regardless of whether you have a clearance or if you even sign the agreement.

  • Re:Guilty much? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 04, 2010 @03:08AM (#34441884)

    My employer, a national lab which does not conduct classified research, has blocked access to wikileaks and asked everyone not to try to access those documents from work, apparently in order to prevent classified documents from appearing on an unclassified government computer, because it would then cause the lab a bunch of administrative hassle to demonstrate that the system was free of classified material.

  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:41AM (#34442466)
    Julian Assange said in his Guardian Q&A:

    Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit inorder to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.

    This shows how deeply Assange has thought about the issues surrounding Wikileaks and the state of democracy and openness worldwide. He drives the point home perfectly. Based on the reaction to Wikileaks in the USA, many people in the world realise that the United States has room for improvement until it reaches Swedish/Finnish/Icelandic levels of transparency.

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