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Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg calls for boycott of Amazon.com

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The man responsible for what was once the largest amount of secret US government information ever leaked has called for free speech advocates to boycott online retailer Amazon.com over their removal of WikiLeaks from their cloud servers.

Saying that he’s “disgusted” by Amazon claiming a violation of their terms of service for taking WikiLeaks offline, Daniel Ellsberg sent an open letter damning the company for capitulating to public and private sector officials who “aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.”

“For the last several years, I’ve been spending over $100 a month on new and used books from Amazon. That’s over,” he wrote. “I ask Amazon to terminate immediately my membership in Amazon Prime and my Amazon credit card and account, to delete my contact and credit information from their files and to send me no more notices.”

He called for a broad and “immediate” boycott of the retailer.

“I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business. I’ve asked friends today to suggest alternatives, and I’ll be exploring service from Powell’s Books, Half-Price Books, Biblio and others.”

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Critics suggest that Amazon’s move was effectively a corporation acting to silence free speech, and that were it being logically and ethically consistent, Amazon would have to apply the same standard to most major news publications that have covered the site’s revelations.

After its servers in Sweden came under a series of denial of service attacks, WikiLeaks.org temporarily moved its home to Amazon’s US-based server farm. After being contacted by members of Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) staff, Amazon took the site offline and said its business arrangement with WikiLeaks hinged upon it not publishing any classified material.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said his move to Amazon servers was a test of their commitment to freedom of speech. Following the take-down, he suggested if Amazon was “uncomfortable with the First Amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”

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WikiLeaks.org and a series of other domains were taken offline Thursday and Friday amid what one influential tech expert called “the first serious infowar.” Facing continuing cyberattacks on WikiLeaks, new mirrors were popping up across Europe on Friday and the site was again available via an IP address in lieu of its DNS hosts jumping ship.

“So far Amazon has spared itself the further embarrassment of trying to explain its action openly,” Ellsberg wrote. “This would be a good time for Amazon insiders who know and perhaps can document the political pressures that were brought to bear–and the details of the hasty kowtowing by their bosses–to leak that information. They can send it to Wikileaks (now on servers outside the US), to mainstream journalists or bloggers, or perhaps to sites like antiwar.com that have now appropriately ended their book-purchasing association with Amazon.”

Ellsberg, who played an instrumental role in bringing about the end of America’s war in Vietnam by leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, has said in the past that he fears for the safety of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange.

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The US Department of Justice said it was investigating the massive leak of State Department diplomatic cables that has fueled a media firestorm all week with no signs of letting up. A lone soldier, Private First Class Bradley Manning, stands accused of the leaks, but officials were still searching for any potential accomplices.

Assange said that if Manning indeed were the leak’s source, he’s an “unparalleled hero”.

In the 1971 case of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg’s prosecution was dismissed and a suit brought against The New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers, ended in a Supreme Court decision upholding the freedom of the press.


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Venice coffee costs German tourists 950 euros and they were asked to asked to leave the city

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Two German tourists were fined Friday for making themselves a coffee on the steps of the famous Rialto bridge in Venice and asked to leave the city, the municipal authorities said.

The two backpackers from Berlin, aged 32 and 35, had made themselves comfortable at the foot of the world-famous landmark and got out their portable coffee-making equipment when they were spotted by a passer-by and reported to the police, the city authorities said in a statement.

Using a newly-passed law, police officers fined them 950 euros ($1,050) for unseemly behavior and asked them to leave Venice.

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School district threatens parents their children may be put in foster care over unpaid lunch bills

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A Luzerne County, Pennsylvania school district is under fire for sending letters to parents who owe money for their children's lunches. The letters threaten that if the bills remain unpaid their children could be removed from their homes and placed in foster care.

"Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch. This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child's right to food," the letter reads, as NBC News reported.

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Trump pits Apollo 11 astronauts against NASA chief — he thinks he understands space travel better

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President Donald Trump welcomed surviving Apollo 11 crew members Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the White House Friday, using the occasion to tell his space chief he would prefer to go straight to Mars without returning to the Moon.

It is a theme he had touched upon earlier this month in a tweet, and this time drew on the support of the two former astronauts, who are taking part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of their mission, to make his case to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"To get to Mars, you have to land on the Moon, they say," said Trump, without looking convinced.

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