msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/4/2010 9:59:14 PM ET 2010-12-05T02:59:14

With tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables still to be disclosed by WikiLeaks, the Obama administration has warned federal government employees, and even some future diplomats, that they must refrain from downloading or even linking to any.

"Classified 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," the Office of Management and Budget said in a notice sent out Friday.

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The New York Times, which first reported the directive, was told by a White House official that it does not advise agencies to block WikiLeaks or other websites on government computer systems. Nor does it bar federal employees from reading news stories about the leaks.

But, if they "accidentally" downloaded any leaked cables, the New York Times reported, they are being told to notify their "information security offices."

As for future diplomats, Columbia University students considering diplomacy careers are being warned to avoid linking to or posting online comments about the leaked cables.

A spokesman for the Ivy League school confirmed Saturday that the Office of Career Services sent an e-mail to students at the School of International and Public Affairs.

The Nov. 30 e-mail says an alumnus at the State Department had contacted the office, saying the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks were "still considered classified."

The e-mail said online discourse about the documents "would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information."

Most federal government jobs require a background check.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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