December 9th, 2010
10:13 AM ET

Will reading WikiLeaks cost students jobs with the federal government?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/12/08/wikileaks.students/t1larg.reading.wikileaks.afp.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]Emanuella Grinberg

U.S. agencies have warned some employees that reading the classified State Department documents released by WikiLeaks puts them at risk of losing their jobs. But what about students considering jobs with the federal government? Do they jeopardize their chances by reading WikiLeaks?

It's a gray area, said law professors and national security experts who spoke with CNN. The topic has been debated intensely in the past week in legal and academic circles, ever since several U.S. universities sent e-mails to students with warnings about reading leaked documents.

They say students ought to be mindful of their future careers when commenting on or distributing the documents online - especially those planning to seek jobs in national security or the intelligence community, which require a security clearance.

"The security clearance asks whether or not you're a risk when it comes to sensitive material. This could be one indicator that, when taken together with others, creates a broader pattern that might suggest you're not a person to be hired," said Pepperdine University law professor Gregory McNeal, who specializes in national security law.

"They may very well take into account your opinion, as a job candidate, whether or not you think WikiLeaks is a good thing or bad thing for the country," he said. "It's a small issue, but one to approach with caution if I were a student seeking a job in the national security field."

E-mails went out last week to students at several schools, including Boston University's School of Law, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, cautioning students against commenting on or posting links to the documents on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Jose

    kim rojas, I thought the ban for Federal employees included other sites that quoted the wikileaks documents.

    December 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  2. June smith

    Humbug!sounds like Russia if you ask me.People have fought wars for th efreedom of speech and to read whatever they wish wheather the Almighty americanos like it or not.Shame shame shame.

    December 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  3. kim rojas Chula Vista, CA

    As a government employee myself, we have been told we are not to look at anything on wikileaks. I respect that decision and truthfully do not wish to know anything posted on that site. I am a news junkie, but I do not need to know anything that is classified or may put lives in danger. I have all of my degrees up to the Master's level, and I would caution any student looking for a job with the Federal Government to stay away from wikileaks.

    December 9, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  4. Jose

    The government has come up with the perfect excuse for keeping its workers ignorant.

    They can keep fighting a losing war in Afghanistan and a losing drug war without struggling with the futility of their efforts.

    December 9, 2010 at 10:34 am |