Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

As Amazon Cuts Off WikiLeaks, Sen. Joe Lieberman Claims a Pointless Victory

WikiLeaks, the site infamous for exposing America’s diplomatic dirty laundry, has confirmed via its Twitter feed that it is no longer hosting its files on Amazon’s servers.

No comment from Amazon on this, although I have a call in to the company.

The move comes as Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut–who was a onetime vice-presidential nominee and who is also chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee–had called for Amazon to cut its ties to WikiLeaks.

Lieberman issued a brief statement calling on other companies not to work with WikiLeaks, and pledged to “ask Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks.”

That could mean he intends to hold hearings, and given the intensity of the vitriol about WikiLeaks coming out of official Washington in the last few days, that would only be a start.

But the answers aren’t going to be all that satisfying, as Talking Points Memo explains, since anyone can upload something to Amazon’s Web Services without any prescreening, which is pretty much the case on any Web service these days. The ostensible reason for the eviction was some violation of Amazon’s terms of service.

This all looks to have been a useless exercise on Lieberman’s part. As Ryan Tate of Valleywag points out, other Amazon customers and partners include some of the news organizations that have been participating with WikiLeaks in the release of the cables. Its news stories, including its own series on the leaks, have been published on the Kindle. Did Lieberman bust Kindle’s chops over that? No.

What’s interesting is that WikiLeaks moved its files to Amazon in the wake of what it said was a distributed denial of service attack on November 28. WikiLeaks claims it came under another more intense attack yesterday. No word on who carried it out.

And something tells me it won’t be the last time.

But, in the end, does it make a difference? Because once something is released on so massive a scale, you might as well order an errant glob of toothpaste back into the tube as try to intimidate or legislate it out of existence.

If these cables detailing the unvarnished opinions of American diplomats around the world were to be such closely guarded secrets, then the more apt question for the inevitable hearings that Lieberman’s Committee will no doubt call concern why they were so readily accessible to a young Army soldier with a computer and a Flash drive, as has been alleged against Bradley Manning.