Inquiry: From A Hilarious HHS-wide E-mail About WikiLeaks

“[C]lassified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority.”

So apparently the claim is “a secret is secret, even if it’s not a secret.”

It gets better: “This requirement does not restrict employee or contractor access to non-classified, publicly available news reports (and other non-classified material) that may in turn discuss classified material, as distinguished from access to underlying documents that themselves are marked classified (including if the underlying classified documents are available on public websites or otherwise in the public domain).”

So, just to make up a fictional piece of classified data. For the sake of the discussion, let’s say that it’s secret that the President of Ireland Mary McAleese is in fact a leprechaun. In the hypothetical classified material, there is a quote: “President McAleese is a leprechaun.” I guess if it’s verbatim, it’s still the classified material. But how long does the excerpt have to be considered from the raw cable? A sentence? A paragraph?

Apparently, if I one merely restates and says, “Recent reports from the classified cables say that Irish President McAleese is a leprechaun,” that’s okay for an HHS employee to have read.