Judge backs State Dept. in WikiLeaks FOIA

A judge is backing the State Department's refusal to provide 23 classified embassy cables even though they had already been released by the website WikiLeaks and published by various news organizations.

The American Civil Liberties Union had sought the cables under a Freedom of Information Act request, and sued after the State Department refused to provide them.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled Monday that the WikiLeaks disclosure "is no substitute for an official acknowledgement" by the government.

Among other things, the cables in the FOIA request included communications about the secret use of drones for targeted killings and opposition to the release of photos showing U.S. torture of detainees.

In earlier cases, courts have agreed with the government's contention that the unauthorized publication of government secrets does not automatically declassify them.