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Judge rules that WikiLeaks cables are still classified

Judge rules that WikiLeaks cables are still classified

A U.S. federal judge yesterday ruled against the American Civil Liberties Union in a suit to obtain the unredacted versions of 23 embassy cables related to Guantanamo, rendition and the drone program. The odd thing is, those cables are already available to the ACLU thanks to WikiLeaks. Cyrus Farviar writes

Not only have these 23 cables in question been available on WikiLeaks for quite some time, the ACLU had previously created an online tool allowing anyone to compare the redacted versions of five excerpts with the full versions as published on WikiLeaks.

The Monday decision finds that because the State Department (and therefore, the executive branch) classifies these sections as secret, and that those sections in question have not been “officially acknowledged,” (as defined in a 1990 appeals court decision), they remain secret.

“No matter how extensive, the WikiLeaks disclosure is no substitute for an official acknowledgement and the ACLU has not shown that the Executive has officially acknowledged that the specific information at issue was a part of the WikiLeaks disclosure,” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

I understand the idea that officially declassifying these cables could be taken as a tacit acceptance of WikiLeaks’ tactics. But continuing to pretend that these documents are still secret is starting to look a bit ridiculous.