The federal government reasons that, published or not, the cables released by WikiLeaks are still classified documents. So it is warning employees from the Library of Congress to its far-flung foot soldiers not to access WikiLeaks and the mirror sites it and other information activists are feverishly setting up.
In some cases the warnings have extended even to accessing media reports about the disclosures. Accessing classified information without clearance is tantamount to breaking the law, the warnings go, and could damage one’s government career or even end it.
Federal agencies are not blocking WikiLeaks and mirror websites, but some government employee advocates deem the warnings a form of censorship.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made censorship-free Internet access a top priority of her dealings with authoritarian countries like China, some rights activists note. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, they add, the US government is violating its own policies.
The State Department was drawn into the censorship controversy after at least two universities warned students that they could be jeopardizing future diplomatic careers by accessing WikiLeaks documents still considered classified by the government.