While federal agencies are not hesitating to censor federal employees when it comes to WikiLeaks, the agencies fail to mention the vast over-classification of information or that WikiLeaks is not the only place to find classified information on the Internet. If the U.S. wants to stop unauthorized employees from accessing classified information, it will have to stop them from reading not only WikiLeaks, but The Washington Post, The New York Times, and countless other MSM outlets, books, and the Internet.
By singling out WikiLeaks, the U.S. is again sending the message that it is not concerned with leaks of classified information, only uncontrolled leaks of classified information.
The selective censorship of WikiLeaks demonstrates all the more clearly that the Executive branch doesn't mind "controlled" or "authorized" leaks ("authorized leaks" being an oxymoron) of classified information, such as the leaks in Bob Woodward's book Obama's Wars.
Moreover, we cannot address WikiLeaks or any other so-called "unauthorized access" to classified information without addressing the over-classification plaguing the classification system. At a recent symposium William Leonard, Chief Operating Officer, National Endowment for Democracy and Former Classification Czar reiterated that "most of what the government says is classified is not properly classified." Leonard also pointed out that the WikiLeaks document releases on Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate "how reckless the government has been" in classifying information and that government officials have not taken responsibility for the reckless over-classification.
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.
However, the Obama administration has undertaken a record number of "leak" prosecutions, while tacitly permitting Bob Woodward's book Obama's Wars to reveal a shocking amount of classified information.
Experts widely agree over-classification is rampant, yet the administration has chosen, instead of addressing over-classification, to selectively prosecute "leakers" and censor employees. Federal employees are no doubt--correctly--free to put Woodward's book on holiday gift lists, but cannot access a publicly-available website from their personal computers. This is a slippery slope that has been the start of some of the worst totalitarian regimes in modern history.
Jesselyn Radack is Homeland Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization. This post originally appeared in her Daily Kos column.