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December 7, 2010
Library of Congress Blocks Wikileaks to CRS
Some of the fallout from the Wikileaks has taken the form of removing access to the site from government employees. That, apparently, includes analysts working with the Congressional Research Service. There seems to be some soul searching over this. On one hand, the information was released illegally. On the other, it is information that can be useful. The Library of Congress released its own press release justifying the move:
The Library decided to block Wikileaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.
Quotes from current and former CRS analysts at Nextgov suggest they disagree with the access removal:
I don't know that you can make a credible argument that CRS reports are the gold standard of analytical reporting, as is often claimed, when its analysts are denied access to information that historians and public policy types call a treasure trove of data," a former CRS employee said.
Let me see if I understand this. Non-government individuals, foreign nationals, newspapers, and almost anyone in the world with access to the Internet can use this information for their analysis, but policy analysts in the United States cannot. Nothing to see here, move along. The U.S. should not handicap itself this way. [MG]