Air Force: Reading WikiLeaks is espionage

Air Force: Reading WikiLeaks is espionage

Air Force personnel who read WikiLeaks could be in for some harsh consequences, according to a memo reported by Security New Daily today. The U.S. government has already banned federal employees from reading WikiLeaks (it also banned FP‘s coverage of WikiLeaks). But now, according to the Daily:

The AFMC memo takes its anti-WikiLeaks stance a step further, declaring that Air Force members – and their family members – who view the WikiLeaks cables may be prosecuted for espionage."

This is something of an interesting twist in the larger WikiLeaks espionage debate, which is proceeding apace. Today in Alexandra, Virginia, WikiLeaks supporters are in court to try to prevent the U.S. government’s request to Twitter to reveal their private information. Ostensibly, tweeters who helped disseminate the leaked cables could be implicated in any eventual espionage case against the whistle-blower organization.

I am no lawyer, but both these cases strike me as a bit intense — if indeed they both do move forward. First, presumably some Air Force officers with clearances could already read the cables (though it’s probably true that intelligence siloing would have limited the scope of access for any one person). Beyond that, however, there are real questions here about where you draw the line between facilitating the cables’ dissemination and just being a natural consumer of information. If reading WikiLeaks is a crime, I’m in serious trouble!