Looking for “Wikileaks”?

Can you search for “Wikileaks” on the National Archives web site? Yes and no.

On Saturday morning, November 3, we learned via Twitter that a search for “Wikileaks” on the National Archives web site archives.gov brought up an error notice stating that the URL was banned. However, even at the same time, a search for “Wiki leaks” in the same search box generated five or six search results.

The banned URL message was an error. We alerted our IT team first thing Monday morning, November 5, and the erroneous blocking rule that produced the error was removed. A search for the term “wikileaks” now generates over two dozen results.

However, while you can now search for both the terms “Wikileaks” and “Wiki leaks” on archives.gov, you will not find the Wikileaks documents. Wikileaks documents remain classified and are not in National Archives custody.

The National Archives holds only permanently archived records, entrusted to us by Federal agencies. Records that are publicly available in the National Archives research facilities nationwide and on archives.gov are no longer classified (or classified parts have been redacted). Each record in our search engines has been reviewed by our archivists before being digitized and posted online.

The National Archives promotes openness, transparency, participation, and collaboration. We appreciate this error being brought to our attention. We value public feedback and continue to explore additional ways of communicating with the public both online and in person at National Archives facilities nationwide and online. For a full list of National Archives social media tools, see www.archives.gov/social-media/. For a list of National Archives locations see http://www.archives.gov/locations/.

4 thoughts on “Looking for “Wikileaks”?

  1. Thats a no then! Have fun censoring the internet, oh and while you are at it you better update your mission statement “The National Archives [does not] promote openness, transparency, participation, and collaboration.”

  2. bob, please read this again, “Wikileaks documents remain classified and are not in National Archives custody.”

    The National Archives does promote openness, transparency, participation, and collaboration when it can under law, executive orders and other regulations set by the government. NARA is a government agency and it has to follow the same laws, rules, ect as any other.

  3. Many thanks for this good post. As a former NARA employee, I particularly like the forthright explanation of the situation and the stalwart articulation of the agency’s mission as reflected in its current values. I support those values. It is my understanding that the National Archives does not limit any search terms and that the block described here was in place due to an error. From what I’ve seen in Social Media and on other websites, there may have been some expectation gaps in terms of using NARA search engines. As you correctly point out, the search in question covered the National Archives’ databases of government records *in its custody.* There obviously is no path of access to records not yet accessioned into NARA and then statutorily and regulatorily reviewed for public disclosure. Some of the discussions of this issue on external sites seemed to conflate an ARCWEB search with searching the Internet. The erroneous block was on ARCWEB searches of NARA’s databases, of course. As someone who has done disclosure review as a NARA employee, I appreciate the good explanation of the handling of records, including what goes in to their disclosure and availability to the public. I’ve long advocated for NARA to take a holistic approach to Social Media and to address cross cutting issues that affect various mission units. You’ve done that well here, making good use of the opportunity to engage and explain, for which much thanks.

  4. How does a ‘random’ error preventing search results for wikileaks magically appear in the first place?

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