Did Library Of Congress Lie? White House Says No Requirement To Block Wikileaks

from the the-law-is-the-law? dept

On Friday, we wrote about how the Library of Congress, in an act of pure denial, had blocked Wikileaks, saying that it was required by law to block access to the site. As we noted at the time, this seemed silly, since the documents were widely available all over the internet and press reports were covering most of the details anyway. We got a few folks in the comments to respond with statements along the lines of "the law is the law, they have to block it." Of course, that misses the point. Even if there was such a law, the only way to "block" such information is to shut off the internet entirely, which is pretty pointless. However, a few folks also responded by asking what law, and the answer might be none.

In an article about how different parts of the government have been warning government workers that these documents are still considered classified and to treat them accordingly, the White House officially stated that it is not advising government agencies to block Wikileaks. In other words, it sounds like someone at the Library of Congress is overreacting -- interpreting rules about dealing with classified documents to mean that it needs to block access to the website, when that doesn't appear to be the case.

Either way, the whole thing is pretty silly. It's about time the government stops using a reality-denying definition of "classified" documents. In the business world, something is no longer considered a trade secret once it's out there. If the government wants to respond to actual conditions out in the world, it should do the same. If a classified document is leaked like this, it's downright silly to still consider it classified or confidential. Just admit that it's now public info and move on.

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  1. icon
    Aaron T (profile), 6 Dec 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Law and order

    Yes free speech does have limits, but the US Supreme Court ruled that leaked gov't secrets are perfectly legal to publish after the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers. The act of leaking them is NOT legal, but Wikileaks, the NYT, Guardian, etc all have a right to publish them.

    So the constitutional question has already been decided, but surprise surprise those in power find such rights inconvenient and hence go after relatively small organizations Wikileaks rather then companies like the New York Times who have posted the exact same cables that Wikileaks did.

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