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Glenn Halbrooks

Air Force Blocks New York Times for Posting WikiLeaks Documents

By December 15, 2010

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The ongoing controversy over WikiLeaks has taken a dramatic new turn. The U.S. Air Force is blocking computer access to The New York Times and other media sites that have posted U.S. State Department documents.

Updates on WikiLeaks and Its Founder Julian Assange:

The Air Force is the only branch of the military to take this action so far. The Times is the only U.S. media site that is being blocked. A Times spokesperson says that the information involved can be accessed by virtually anyone in the world.

These developments are a college media professor's dream. That's because they provide a textbook example of whether the public has a right to know the inner workings of government. The question is where to draw the line when it comes to sensitive information.

Until now, the attention has mainly been on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The shift in focus toward The New York Times presents danger for the newspaper.

Politicians are now grabbing headlines in attacking the paper. Sen. Joe Lieberman has called for the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation into the Times. U.S. Rep.-elect Allen West goes a step further, saying U.S. media outlets that carry WikiLeaks stories should be censored.

A high-profile institution like the Times is used to controversy and has weathered these storms. But as the only U.S. media outlet under this scrutiny, it will be easy for anyone with a political agenda to pile onto the bandwagon to villify the paper for his or her own gain. Be watching to see whether the paper changes its stance if WikiLeaks releases further documents.

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