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View Full Version : WHEN DOES PUBLIC DISCLOSURE MAKE SECRECY MOOT? Secrecy News



Bernice Moore
12-09-2011, 07:42 PM
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/


** WHEN DOES PUBLIC DISCLOSURE MAKE SECRECY MOOT?
** CRS LOSES SEVERAL SENIOR STAFFERS


WHEN DOES PUBLIC DISCLOSURE MAKE SECRECY MOOT?

The U.S. State Department insists that the publication of many thousands of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks does not alter their classification status. In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/secrecy-without-sense-state-department-censors-cables-already-published) for 23 of the cables, the Department of State this week released (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/us/state-dept-withholds-cables-that-wikileak-posted.html) redacted versions of 11 of them and withheld the other 12 in their entirety -- even though the full text (http://www.aclu.org/wikileaks-diplomatic-cables-foia-documents) of all of them is readily available online.

In principle, the question of whether unauthorized disclosure of classified information is tantamount to declassification of that information is not new, although the WikiLeaks case presents it with new force. The government has always contended, and courts have generally accepted, that unauthorized or unofficial disclosure does not imply or require declassification.

The "official acknowledgment by an authoritative source" of information that is already in the public domain adds a quantum of validity and may itself constitute "new information that could cause damage to the national security" the DC Circuit Court said in Afshar v. Department of State (http://openjurist.org/702/f2d/1125) (1983).