Blown To Bits

If You Will Ever Want a Government Job, Don’t Peek at WikiLeaks

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Harry Lewis

The US Government has announced that federal workers should not be looking at the government secrets. Fine; I suppose your employer can tell you what you can’t do. But several experts are extending the logic, saying that succumbing to the temptation to look at the site may permanently disqualify you from ever getting a security clearance, because you could be asked whether you ever looked at classified information you were not authorized to see.

Would they really do that? This article in the Washington Post says they would.

The Career Services Offices of several universities have sent their students warnings about this danger.

This seems crazy on the face of it. Do we really want our future diplomats and intelligence officers to be the only people in the country who haven’t found out what those cables say? Should these universities be telling their students also not to read the New York Times, which has published some of this classified information?

By the way, if you want to risk your future security clearance by listening to the cables rather than looking at them, this site will give you audio versions.

Oops! No security clearance for me now; I just clicked that link.

3 Responses to “If You Will Ever Want a Government Job, Don’t Peek at WikiLeaks”

  1. Annonymous Says:

    I am sorry. This is getting Orwellian. These documents have been posted to Wikileaks– they have been broadcast to the world. They have been poured over by every nation state trying to get insight into the US. They might as well have been scrawled on the wall in the public square. If the US government insists they are still classified, and threatens to punish those who read it out of curiousity, they are denying the reality of the status of the documents in a pretty scary way. In an ideal world, with normal non-scary reactions, if someone was interviewed for a security clearance, and asked if they read the Wikileaks cables, they should say, “Yes. Of course I read them. I thought it would help me understand what we think, and what others know about what we think, and that’s going to someday help me understand how to do my job better. I am enterprising and I educate myself on matters of importance” (Note: if someone read the Wikileaks cables and LIES about reading them, they should not get a security clearance. For dishonesty and stupidity.)

    If someone posts someone’s embarrassing diary, I may decide not to read it. That’s chivalry. For a similar reason I (who have no need to know anything about diplomacy for my job) am not going to go read the cables on wikileaks. But I find *my government*: home of the free, the brave, and hopefully the sane thundering around telling me that it’s still classified and I’m not to read it deeply disturbing. As far as I can tell, it’s already in the hands of all our enemies– there is nothing that my reading it or not reading it could do to harm national security above and beyond the harm that’s already been inflicted. Therefore, stop acting like a playground bully, and start treating your citizens like grownups.

    Note; I am posting this as anonymous, because I find the recent rhetoric about wikileaks sufficiently Orwellian, that I don’t want to attach my name to even this mild rant. So Harry, you can decide if you want to post this without a name attached or not.

  2. Harry Lewis Says:

    No need for the apology. And to be fair, I don’t think this advice is coming directly from the government; it is coming from people experienced with government hiring who are being paid to advise young people about how to get jobs. But they are connecting the dots based on experience, and they are probably right.

  3. Bill Gasarch Says:

    Anyone who has read BLOWN TO BITS (the book) and BLOW TO BITS (this blog) should not be surprised
    that the government is this … stupid is not quite the word. Oblivious? Out of touch? Unaware of the new technological world we live in? I suspect that if you asked individuals in the government they would agree this is an idiotic policy. However the IQ of a committee is the IQ of its dumbest member
    divided by the number of people on the committee. (There has to be a more substantial reason why
    dumb things that everyone knows is dumb getting made into law other than the IQ-OF-A-COMMITTEE

    This is part of a more general problem of people or in this case governments adjusting to a new
    technology. Or failing to adjust.

    As a side note: Mark Zuckerberg (FACEBOOK) has been named Time Magazines MAN OF THE YEAR.
    I think he should have won it JOINTLY with Julian Assange. They are both demonstrating that we live in a new era.