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Kitrosser teaches constitutional and First Amendment law, and her research and writing have a special focus on free speech, separation of powers and government secrecy.

University of Minnesota constitutional law expert available to discuss WikiLeaks controversy

First Amendment law expert views great risk to free speech in WikiLeaks prosecution

December 17, 2010

Both Republican and Democratic politicians have called disclosures of classified information, in particular international diplomatic cables in November and December, on WikiLeaks as treason, terrorism, and the work of enemy combatants. A University of Minnesota Law School professor who can discuss the disclosures and provide a legal context for classified information and First Amendment protection is:

Heidi Kitrosser, professor, University of Minnesota Law School

Kitrosser teaches constitutional and First Amendment law, and her research and writing have a special focus on free speech, separation of powers and government secrecy. She examined the issues in depth in the 2008 article "Classified Information Leaks and Free Speech." To view the article, go to www.law.uiuc.edu/lrev/publications/2000s/2008/2008_3/Kitrosser.pdf.

"The fact that information is classified does not automatically make its disclosure dangerous," Kitrosser says. Several million people have some form of classification authority, and from fiscal year 1996 through 2009, an average of 16.1 million documents each year were stamped "classified." Experts from across the political spectrum have long noted, she says, that the concern of classifiers often is ""with governmental embarrassment of one sort or another"" rather than with the protection of sensitive intelligence matters.

Regarding the source of classified information, Kitrosser notes that "Administrations have long selectively leaked classified information that puts them in a favorable light while guarding less favorable information."

Many critics wrongly assume that WikiLeaks' dissemination of classified information is categorically illegal, Kitrosser says, but such information is valuable "in the marketplace of ideas" and deserves First Amendment protections.

To interview Kitrosser, contact Patty Mattern, University News Service, at mattern@umn.edu or (612) 624-2801; or Cynthia Huff, Law School, at huffx070@umn.edu or (612) 625-6691.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit www.unews.umn.edu. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.
 

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Law School Professor Heidi Kitrosser examines the issues of free speech, separation of powers and government secrecy in depth in the 2008 article "Classified Information Leaks and Free Speech." (PDF)