Author Topic: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link  (Read 14167 times)

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State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« on: September 28, 2011, 09:01:58 AM »

State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link

A veteran U.S. State Department foreign service officer says his job is on the line after he posted a link on his blog to a WikiLeaks document.

Peter Van Buren, who has worked for the department for 23 years and just published a book that is critical of U.S. reconstruction projects in Iraq, said this week that the State Department had launched an investigation against him earlier this month for disclosing classified information.

His crime, he said, was a link he posted on August 25 in a blog post discussing the hypocrisy of recent U.S. actions against Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi. The link went to a 2009 cable about the sale of U.S. military spare parts to Qadaffi through a Portuguese middleman.

    We recently recapped the weird history of US-Libyan relations, focusing on how, after years of hating on and bombing Qaddafi, soon after the Iraq war commenced we suddenly decided we liked him. The US opened diplomatic relations in 2009 and had all sorts of warm feelings for the once-pariah state. Then somehow in 2011 he started hating on and bombing Qaddafi again.

    New cables, on Wikileaks, now give us a hint at how cozy the US-Libyan relationship (briefly) was.

    To start, Libya needed lots of spare parts for its military after years of embargoes. The US was happy to assist. An unclassified cable from 2009 outlined that the US sold “Miscellaneous parts, components, accessories, and attachments for the L100 aircraft and T56 engines belonging to the Libyan Air Force,” conveniently through a Portuguese middleman. Wonder if any of those refitted aircraft played any part in the recent unpleasantness in Libya? The cable asked Embassy Lisbon and Embassy Tripoli to check up on these exports, as they had (duh) military usage and cordially concludes “Department is grateful for Post’s assistance in this matter.”

Van Buren wrote in a post published on Tuesday, the same day his new book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People is being released, that he was interrogated by State Department officials twice this month.

Van Buren said he was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information — even though he had merely linked to documents that were already widely available on the internet. The cable was just one in a cache of more than 250,000 State Department cables that WikiLeaks allegedly obtained from former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning last year and has been posting piecemeal online with media partners in the U.S. and Europe since last November.

“In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley,” Van Buren wrote this week.

The State Department investigators, he said, demanded to know who had helped him with his blog and told him that every blog post, Facebook post, and tweet by State Department employees had to be pre-cleared by the Department prior to publication. They also drilled him about the details of his publishing contract — including how much he had been paid — and told him that his refusal to answer questions would lead to his firing. And they warned him against writing about their interrogation, saying he could be charged with interfering with a government investigation if he did so.

Van Buren said the Principal Deputy Secretary of State subsequently wrote his publisher demanding small national security redactions from his book, which had already shipped to bookstores. Among the cuts requested was a vignette that he said was based on a scene from the movie Black Hawk Down.

Van Buren linked to the cable after WikiLeaks abruptly opened the spigot on its cache of cables in August, spewing out more than 130,000 over a few days after a news story in a German news weekly revealed that the entire database of cables had already been inadvertently leaked online by WikiLeaks supporters, along with the password to unlock the file.

“The State Department and its Bureau of Diplomatic Security never took responsibility for their part in the loss of all those cables, never acknowledged their own mistakes or porous security measures,” Van Buren wrote this week. “No one will ever be fired at State because of WikiLeaks—except, at some point, possibly me.”

Van Buren said his real crime appeared to be speaking critically about U.S. policies in the Middle East.

“The advantage of all this? It gets rid of a ‘troublemaker,’ and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security people can claim that they are ‘doing something’ about the WikiLeaks drip that continues even while they fiddle,” he wrote. “Of course, it also chills free speech, sending a message to other employees about the price of speaking plainly.”

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2011, 10:44:24 AM »
WikiLeaks scaring the shit out of Americans

    "It could be very, very damaging. . . . The Secretary slammed the release of the cables, calling it an attack."

    - Jill Dougherty, CNN

    "...there's enormous potential damage for the United States in these -- in these leaks, Jill. I assume that's what officials there are telling you."

    - Wolf Blitzer, CNN

    "WikiLeaks is creating a new and potentially dangerous information paradigm...."

    - Ada Evening News

As never before during a national security crisis, Americans are turning to social media to express their fears.   A new survey of social media sites by a DoF research team reveals America's deep-seated fear of  WikiLeaks.

Dr. Rebecca Wolf, Deputy Secretary for Community and Social Media at DoF, has learned of Americans who "cannot sleep" (see here and here), so frightened are they of the subversive whistle-blowing organization.

Dr. Wolf writes, "The response on Twitter shows that the media is doing its job." She added, "Throughout the cablegate crisis, government and news media organizations have continued to cooperate in the interest of protecting the national security establishment."

The team's findings affirm that traditional news media organizations continue to serve a critical role.   Easton Syme, a senior DoF analyst, writes, "Rather than displace traditional media, DoF research shows that new social media tools complement traditional media.  Americans learn from traditional news sources what to fear; and the salience of the propaganda is amplified by social media.  It's a virtuous circle."

These tweets illustrate how America has reacted to WikiLeaks:

samtate Sam Tate tweet:  Wikileaks scares me

montagious Monty Dhaliwal tweet:  wikileaks scares the hell out of me. Maybe ignorance really is bliss...

littleylittley Gregory Littley tweet: Wikileaks scares me, to the core. Hillary Clinton delivered statement on Wikileaks 

jamesbailie James Bailie tweet:  wikileaks scares me. i have no idea what it is, or whether i'm going to die because of it....

Larawriter Larawriter tweet: WikiLeaks scares me.

DoF salutes everyone who has shared their fear of WikiLeaks by way of social media.  The reaction to WikiLeaks suggests that US citizens have learned to take perceived national security threats very seriously.   That's positive.  Of course, there can be too much of a good thing.   Scared shitless of WikiLeaks, the country may be at risk of paralysis.  Decisions will have to be made.  The question America's leaders face today is:  How to channel public fear of WikiLeaks into programs that will either profit our partners in the security and defense industries or expand the influence of the national security establishment?

Shortly after having been briefed by DoF opinion researchers, Sec Fear Malcolm P. Stag III participated in a panel with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.   Secretary Stag said,  "At this point, the government needs to do something -- just about anything -- and the sooner the better.  Basically, we've got to either bomb something* or pass some new laws.  Preferably both.  This approach promises to make the American People fee safer."

Mr. O'Reilly asked Secretary Stag if he could be more specific: "Assuming he's not too busy nationalizing American industry, what is the next step Obama might take?"

Sec Fear replied, "Obviously, the next step would be for our Commander in Chief to ask Sec Def Gates  to identify WikiLeaks-related targets to strike.   Whether the bombing is to be carried out by the CIA or the Pentagon, the president needs a list of targets.  He will also want to call up the Attorney General.   (Attorney Gen.) Holder will be told to compile a list of freedoms that Americans could be asked to give up in exchange for the perception of greater security."

* For example, we can try to take out Julian Assange, as suggested by the Rev. Mike Huckabee, perhaps by way of drone strike as suggested by an advisor to the Canadian prime minister.

just be scared and let them win  >:(


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 09:47:12 AM »
I wish all could be courageous enough not to listen to the "ghost of fear". Fear only creates "paralysis".
Btw, on  the other hand, why being afraid when one has done nothing bad?

Another article about this case and the general situation:

-Don’t Mention the WikiLeaks: State Dept. Employee Details Interrogation-

Accused of 'Disclosing Classified Information' for Noting WikiLeaks Docs
by Jason Ditz, September 28, 2011

The Obama Administration has been [b]warning government employees for awhile that they faced punishment for reading the WikiLeaks documents[/b], but were they serious? As one State Department employee reports, they apparently were.

In a report released via yesterday, Peter Van Buren reports that he was “interrogated” by State Department officials and accused of “disclosing classified information.”

He must’ve really done something bad for an allegation like that, right?

Not really… the beginning and the end of the “crime” committed by Van Buren was posting a blog entry linking to a WikiLeaks cable from 2009 about Sens. John McCain (R – AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC) urging the US to help provide for Moammar Gadhafi’s security in Libya.

Not exactly earth-shattering, particularly since the cables were already released by WikiLeaks and were a matter of public knowledge.

The Obama Administration has claimed, however, that even though the cables are available to the entire planet they’re still classified and therefore “off limits.”

What will ultimately come of the Van Buren investigation remains to be seen, though the interrogators did threaten him with criminal charges.

Is this just a move to intimidate government employees, or will the administration start trying to toss government employees in prison for blogging about WikiLeaks?

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Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2011, 11:05:20 AM »
The intensity of the suppression is only equal to the intensity of government officials' fear that the truth will set them free...from their jobs.


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Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2011, 23:22:49 PM »

The Espionage Act of 1917

    "The source who leaks defense information to the press commits an offense; the reporter who holds onto defense material commits an offense; and the retired official who uses defense material in his memoirs commits an offense."

        - Harold Edgar and Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. in "The Espionage Statutes and Publication of Defense Information," Columbia Law Review, May 1973, vol. 73, pp. 929-1087

Alongside surveillance and sexual harassment lawsuits, United States Department of Fear considers the Espionage Act of 1917 one of the government's most important tools in our war against WikiLeaks.

Persons Guilty Under the Espionage Act
In fact, we have urged the Justice Department to throw the Espionage Act at anyone who assists WikiLeaks.  Clearly, anyone who helps to disseminate government secrets released by WikiLeaks should be found guilty under the Espionage Act.   For example, persons guilty under the Act must be assumed to include everyone who is responding to this recent appeal by WikiLeaks:

Friends of the Department Won't Face Prosecution Under the Act
Technically, the Espionage Act applies to retired officials who publish government secrets in their memoirs.   Former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld recently Tweeted:

Of course, Donald Rumsfeld has nothing to worry about.   Provisions of the Espionage Act do not apply to officials covered by Look Forward Not Backward Doctrine.
For the benefit of prosecuting attorneys at the Department of Justice and in the interest of intimidating persons who might be tempted to follow WikiLeaks, we're posting the text of the Act:
The Espionage Act of 1917
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled
Title I

Section 1
(a) whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defence with intent or reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information, concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defence, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, coaling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, or other place connected with the national defence, owned or constructed, or in progress of construction by the United States or under the control or the United States, or of any of its officers or agents, or within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, or any place in which any vessel, aircraft, arms, munitions, or other materials or instruments for use in time of war are being made, prepared, repaired. or stored, under any contract or agreement with the United States, or with any person on behalf of the United States, or otherwise on behalf of the United States, or any prohibited place within the meaning of section six of this title; or
(b) whoever for the purpose aforesaid, and with like intent or reason to believe, copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts, or induces or aids another to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing or note of anything connected with the national defence; or
(c) whoever, for the purpose aforesaid, receives or obtains or agrees or attempts or induces or aids another to receive or obtain from any other person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defence, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts or induces or aids another to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this title; or
(d) whoever, lawfully or unlawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defence, wilfully communicates or transmits or attempts to communicate or transmit the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or
(e) whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, note, or information, relating to the national defence, through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be list, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

Section 2
Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury or the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicated, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to, or aids, or induces another to, communicate, deliver or transmit, to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly and document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blue print, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defence, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years: Provided, That whoever shall violate the provisions of subsection:
(a) of this section in time of war shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years; and
(b) whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, shall collect, record, publish or communicate, or attempt to elicit any information with respect to the movement, numbers, description, condition, or disposition of any of the armed forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the United States, or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any naval of military operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification of any place, or any other information relating to the public defence, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years.
Section 3
Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies and whoever when the United States is at war, shall wilfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall wilfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.

Section 4
If two or more persons conspire to violate the provisions of section two or three of this title, and one or more of such persons does any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be punished as in said sections provided in the case of the doing of the act the accomplishment of which is the object of such conspiracy. Except as above provided conspiracies to commit offences under this title shall be punished as provided by section thirty-seven of the Act to codify, revise, and amend the penal laws of the United States approved March fourth, nineteen hundred and nine.
Section 5
Whoever harbours or conceals any person who he knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe or suspect, has committed, or is about to commit, an offence under this title shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both.

Section 6
The President in time of war or in case of national emergency may by proclamation designate any place other than those set forth in subsection:
(a) of section one hereof in which anything for the use of the Army or Navy is being prepared or constructed or stored as a prohibited place for the purpose of this title: Provided, That he shall determine that information with respect thereto would be prejudicial to the national defence.

Section 7
Nothing contained in this title shall be deemed to limit the jurisdiction of the general courts-martial, military commissions, or naval courts-martial under sections thirteen hundred and forty-two, thirteen hundred and forty-three, and sixteen hundred and twenty-four of the Revised Statutes as amended.

Section 8
The provisions of this title shall extend to all Territories, possessions, and places subject to the jurisdiction of the United States whether or not contiguous thereto, and offences under this title, when committed upon the high seas or elsewhere within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and outside the territorial limits thereof shall be punishable hereunder.

Section 9
The Act entitles "An Act to prevent the disclosure of national defence secrets," approved March third, nineteen hundred and eleven, is hereby repealed.

Excerpts transribed, but not written by
Originial source is United States Government

Prophetically, SecFear Malcolm P. Stag III said in a 2004 address to Harvard Law School:

    "In the fight for government secrecy, the Espionage Act is our big stick.  Its relevance is likely to increase.  I'm confident that future American leaders will regard the 1917 Act as a more important document than the Constitution."   

In December 2011 the House Justice Committee discussed the implications of the Espionage Act for the prosecution of WikiLeaks, its leader Julian Assange, and their co-conspirators in the media.


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2011, 11:32:24 AM »
Freedom isn’t free at the state department

The only employee at state who may be fired because of Wikileaks

29 September, by Peter Van Buren

On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web.

As we sat in a small, gray, windowless room, resplendent with a two-way mirror, multiple ceiling-mounted cameras, and iron rungs on the table to which handcuffs could be attached, the two DS agents stated that the inclusion of that link amounted to disclosing classified material. In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley.

The agents demanded to know who might be helping me with my blog (“Name names!”), if I had donated any money from my upcoming book on my wacky year-long State Department assignment to a forward military base in Iraq, and if so to which charities, the details of my contract with my publisher, how much money (if any) I had been paid, and — by the way — whether I had otherwise “transferred” classified information.

Had I, they asked, looked at the WikiLeaks site at home on my own time on my own computer? Every blog post, every Facebook post, and every Tweet by every State Department employee, they told me, must be pre-cleared by the Department prior to “publication.” Then they called me back for a second 90-minute interview, stating that my refusal to answer questions would lead to my being fired, never mind the Fifth (or the First) Amendments.

Why me? It’s not like the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the staff or the interest to monitor the hundreds of blogs, thousands of posts, and millions of tweets by Foreign Service personnel. The answer undoubtedly is my new book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Its unvarnished portrait of State’s efforts and the U.S. at work in Iraq has clearly angered someone, even though one part of State signed off on the book under internal clearance procedures some 13 months ago. I spent a year in Iraq leading a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and sadly know exactly what I am talking about. DS monitoring my blog is like a small-town cop pulling over every African-American driver: vindictive, selective prosecution. "Ya’ll be careful in these parts, ‘hear, ‘cause we’re gonna set an example for your kind of people."

Silly as it seems, such accusations carry a lot of weight if you work for the government. DS can unilaterally, and without any right of appeal or oversight, suspend your security clearance and for all intents and purposes end your career. The agents questioning me reminded me of just that, as well as of the potential for criminal prosecution — and all because of a link to a website, nothing more.

It was implied as well that even writing about the interrogation I underwent, as I am doing now, might morph into charges of “interfering with a Government investigation.” They labeled routine documents in use in my interrogation as “Law Enforcement Sensitive” to penalize me should I post them online. Who knew such small things actually threatened the security of the United States? Are these words so dangerous, or is our nation so fragile that legitimate criticism becomes a firing offense?

Let’s think through this disclosure of classified info thing, even if State won’t. Every website on the Internet includes links to other websites. It’s how the web works. If you include a link to say, a CNN article about Libya, you are not “disclosing” that information — it’s already there. You’re just saying: "Have a look at this." It’s like pointing out a newspaper article of interest to a guy next to you on the bus. (Careful, though, if it’s an article from the New York Times or the Washington Post. It might quote stuff from Wikileaks and then you could be endangering national security.)


Read the rest of the article here:


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2011, 06:54:54 AM »
I wonder if it occurs to Obama, Clinton and the rest that by creating what is essentially a thought-crime, they are dooming the governmental apparatus to an intellectual paralysis, best termed idiocy, that will likely prevent whatever little further intelligent analysis of the world situation that might have otherwise been possible. 


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2011, 10:55:25 AM »
I've found this reflection googling a bit:

"Why can't gov't employees read wikileaks?
Wikileaks publicly disclosed a lot of classified info, and regardless of whether you agree with it or not, the damage is done, and the info is publicly available. But the government still asserts "even though the documents were publicly revealed, they're still classified" and instructs all military and federal government employees to not read wikileaks.

But like it or not, the wikileaks cables are undeniably public now, so what possible reason is there to prevent US military and federal employees from reading them?
The 'bad guys' already read them, and all possible damage is already done, so how can anyone claim that preventing our own 'good guy' people from reading them could possibly cause any harm? In fact, letting our own people read them might conceivably help -- for instance, knowing that the US secretly sold weapons to Libya in 2009 could definitely be useful to a CIA agent planning anti-insurgency plans for Libya now, if only to know what we're up against.

Given that the wikileaks articles are (like it or not) already widely published, is there any logical reason for the US government to prevent its own employees from reading them? Or is this just one of those stupid policies of ignoring reality? I want to believe the government has a reason, but I honestly can't think of any possible way this policy would help anyone. Am I missing something?"

Last edited by doubled; Yesterday at 11:22 PM.


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 12:46:24 PM »

State Dept. Punishes Employee For Linking to WikiLeaks
October 20, 2011, 12:09 pm ET by Sarah Moughty

Peter Van Buren, a career foreign service officer, said yesterday that the State Department has suspended his top secret security clearance indefinitely because of a post on his personal blog from which he linked to diplomatic cables published on WikiLeaks.

Van Buren said he believed the move was in retaliation for his recently published book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.

“I’m fairly close to retirement [from government work] and this is a way of not allowing me to retire with a security clearance,” he told Wired‘s Kim Zetter. “It’s like having a big scarlet ‘loser’ painted on my forehead.”

The indefinite suspension, Van Buren says, means that he cannot challenge the decision in the courts, as he would be able to had the department revoked his clearance.

Back in December, after WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables, the State Department reminded employees that they were not allowed to view the documents unless they had the proper security clearance. (The New York Times memorably described the order as “a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left.”)  The Pentagon also issued a directive saying that viewing classified documents from unclassified computers would create “a security violation.”

Recently released figures show that more than 4.2 million people hold security clearances, a figure that is nearly the entire population of Washington D.C. As Top Secret America‘s Dana Priest has reported, the clearances can be very lucrative for those who move into the private sector after retiring from government service.

Coincidentally, when Van Buren served in Iraq in 2009-10, his office at Forward Operating Base Hammer was located across the hall from the office where Bradley Manning worked.  Manning is the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking more than half a million classified documents to WikiLeaks.

“I don’t think I ever met the guy,” Van Buren told Wired. “The last time I had access to U.S. government secrets was on the Army system that Bradley Manning used.”


  • Guest
Re: State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2011, 13:41:32 PM »
U.S. diplomat suspended for book, blog with WikiLeaks link

By Agence France-Presse - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WASHINGTON — The State Department has suspended a veteran diplomat for a book critical of US policy in Iraq and irreverent blog posts that included a link to a WikiLeaks cable, he said Wednesday.

Peter Van Buren, a 23 year foreign service officer who worked in human relations, said he was escorted out of the State Department on Monday and barred from returning for two days while officials there decide what to do next with him.

They had stripped him of his top secret security clearance a few days earlier, he said.

“We are unable to discuss individual personnel matters, and therefore have no comment about Mr Van Buren?s situation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

But in a phone interview with AFP, Van Buren said his irreverent account of his experiences in Iraq, in a book entitled “We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,” appeared to have precipitated the action.

There were also articles he wrote for the Huffington Post and, and blogs on his website, “,” which he freely admits were published without prior State Department permission.

“The State Department said they need 30 working days in order to clear or approve any submission, and unfortunately that is out of the zone of reality for blogging and tweeting and Facebook updating,” he said.

“I submit it is nothing but a prior restraint on my free speech. I choose not to follow it, and I expect to be punished,” he said.

One blog post linked to a WikiLeaks cable describing a 2009 meeting Senator John McCain had with Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli.

Van Buren said he wanted to make the point “how quickly enemies became friends, and friends became enemies again, and wondering what that meant about US foreign policy.”

“This was not the nuclear launch codes, or Hillary’s Victoria Secret catalog or anything like that. It was pretty mild stuff. I believe it was listed as ‘confidential,’ which is the lowest form of classification.”

Van Buren said he had submitted the book for pre-publication review more than a year ago, with no response, and began blogging in April of this year.

It wasn’t until June that he was told he shouldn’t be blogging, and not until September 1 that they raised the WikiLeaks link.

“That was followed by two interrogation sessions with our security people,” he said. Then on September 20, they demanded redactions to his book, and followed that by suspending his security clearance.

The redactions were to a chapter titled “A Spooky Dinner,” which described a dinner with some CIA officials in Baghdad at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces.

That demand was just six days before the book was to go to book stores, and he refused to comply.

“I think it’s something of an excuse, if you will, to use the security apparatus as a way to shut somebody up when they don’t have another tool to do it with.

“It’s unfortunate but I’m not the first person to have found themselves at the pointy end of that stick.”