[Marxism] My employer reverses itself on Wikileaks

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 6 14:12:00 MST 2010

(The Coatsworth referred to below is actually a leftist Latin 
America scholar who I contacted a couple of weeks ago about 
getting help in setting up a meeting for a Chiapas human rights 
speaker touring the USA.)


Columbia University Walks Back Anti-WikiLeaks Advice

WASHINGTON -- Days after Columbia University's School of 
International and Public Affairs (SIPA) sparked national ire by 
advising students not to discuss WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter, 
the school is walking back its remarks and embracing free speech.

In an email to students last week, SIPA's Office of Career 
Services warned students that tweeting or posting about WikiLeaks 
on Facebook could endanger their job prospects with the federal 
government, according to an alumnus working at the U.S. State 

"[The alumnus] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these 
documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook 
or through Twitter," the Office of Career Services advised 
students in an email obtained last week by The Huffington Post. 
"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."

Indignant Americans took to Twitter last week to air their 
reactions to the prestigious institution's chilling warning.

Over at the State Department, spokesman Philip Crowley has denied 
any federal involvement in the school's guidance.

"This is not true," he wrote in an email. "We have instructed 
State Department employees not to access the WikiLeaks site and 
download posted documents using an unclassified network since 
these documents are still classified. We condemn what Mr. Assange 
is doing, but have given no advice to anyone beyond the State 
Department to my knowledge."

Now SIPA's Dean, John H. Coatsworth, is reversing the advice 
issued to students last week, reaffirming the school's commitment 
to freedom of speech.

"Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our 
institution. Thus, SIPA's position is that students have a right 
to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that 
they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global 
citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences," he 
said in an email obtained by HuffPost.

Though the disclosure of 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables detailing 
some of the country's most closely guarded secrets has received a 
mixed response, the move to silence public debate on the issue 
represents uncharted new territory in the federal government's 
effort to put a stop to the leaks.

Douglas Almond, an associate professor of International and Public 
Affairs and Economics, told HuffPost that while students should 
not be discriminated against for following the WikiLeak 
conversation, aspiring diplomats may appreciate being notified 
about the issue.

"If I were a SIPA student considering a career in government, as 
many are, I'd want to to be made aware of this potential issue," 
said Almond, who's currently on leave at Cornell University. "That 
said, in my opinion it would be silly for the government to screen 
future job applicants based on whether they had read these leaked 
cables or their summaries in the press."

Read the original email from SIPA's Office of Career Services.

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