Warning: Read WikiLeaks Documents, No Fed Job For You - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Warning: Read WikiLeaks Documents, No Fed Job For You

(CNN) -- 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.

Each message came from the schools' offices of career services, claiming to be sent at the recommendation of an alumnus.

In the eyes of the federal government, the documents remain classified, "thus, reading them, passing them on, commenting on them may be seen as a violation of Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information," said Maura Kelly, Boston University law assistant dean for career development and public services, in an e-mail to students.

"Two big factors in hiring for many federal government positions are determining if the applicants have good judgment and if they know how to deal with confidential/classified information," Kelly said in the memo, which was posted on the law blog "Above The Law" last week.

A Boston University spokeswoman confirmed that the e-mail had been sent, adding that students are "free to make their own choices."

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