December 3, 2010

Boycott Amazon.com

(Updated Below)

 As many of you know, Amazon.com kicked WikiLeaks off its servers on Wednesday.  Amazon didn't bother to give WikiLeaks any notice.  It just pulled the plug, causing the website to be inaccessible for a few hours.

Amazon made the decision after speaking with Senator Joe Lieberman's office.  Evidently Liberman staffers called to ask why Amazon had agreed to host WikiLeaks and whether it had plans to shut the site down.  Amazon took the hint and shut the site down within twenty-four hours.

Now I hope you agree that this was a sleazy, cowardly act, and I encourage you to join me in boycotting Amazon.  I also encourage you to go here to sign a petition asking that Amazon apologize to WikiLeaks and agree to host the site for free.

Of course, not everyone supports boycotting Amazon.  For instance, Lew Rockwell writes on his blog:

As we know, Senator Joe Evilman threatened Amazon with destruction–and he is a very powerful henchman–if the company continued to offer server space to WikiLeaks. Amazon complied, and the company had no other choice. It is public firm; the managers may not risk the stockholders’ money in this way. Indeed, Amazon is a victim of US fascism, not a willing enabler.
Nothing against Lew, but his reasoning here is ridiculous.  First, it's simply not true that Amazon "had no other choice."  It obviously had a choice. There was no court order demanding that Amazon drop WikiLeaks.  Federal troops weren't lining up outside of Amazon's corporate office.  Amazon could have said no; it choose to take the easy way out.

Regarding Lew's claim that Amazon "may not risk the stockholders' money in this way," I think that, yes, Amazon does have an obligation to its stockholders, but it also has other moral obligations.  Just because a certain action profits one's stockholders, it doesn't follow that that action is right.  One can think of numerous examples illustrating this point.

If I ran Amazon, I would have informed Lieberman's staffers that they need to go read the First Amendment, as well as the 1971 Supreme Court case New York Times vs. United States.  Then I would have notified my stockholders of my decision. If they wanted to sell their stocks, then they could do so; nothing would be forcing them to stay.

Doing the right thing is difficult.  And it's often unprofitable.  But what's that have to do with anything?

* * * * *

UPDATE, 12/04/10: See also Boycott Amazon.com (Part 2)


UPDATE, 3/12/11: Alternatives to Amazon.com:

35 comments:

libhom said...

I canceled my Amazon account. Those greedy fascists can kiss my butt.

Don Emmerich said...

Yay!!!! Good for you!

By the way, thanks for stopping by -- it looks like you have a great blog.

Bob said...

You say "doing the right thing is hard". What makes you think Amazon agrees with you about what "the right thing" is here? Maybe they just think that wantonly spilling random American classified data is the wrong thing to do. The supposed purpose of Wikileaks is to provide a place for whistleblowers to present evidence of wrongdoing. Someone can agree with that mission without agreeing that random classified data should be exposed.

When it is just video of a helicopter attack on a target that turned out to include a couple of journalists hanging around with guys armed with ak-47s and RPGs one could argue (poorly) that it was a legitimate whistle-blowing leak. Although the target was in fact legitimate, the journalists next to the Iraqi insurgents would not have been legitimate targets on their own.

However, there was not even such a figleaf for the release of 250,000 diplomatic cables. The information was taken not to expose wrongdoing, but simply to harm America. Manning didn't find bits of incriminating information, he simply downloaded as much as he could, indiscriminately.

Even apart from any specific damage from particular information he stole, the leaks cause tremendous damage to America.

We need our diplomats to be honest with us and we want foreign officials to be honest with us, which they can't do if their words will end up on the Internet.

If a close aide to the dictator of Berzerkistan wants to tell an American diplomat that the leader is planning an invasion of the country next door, do you think he is going to do that now? Or is he going to be worried that the next big wikileak is going to have his name on it?

As for the claim that the State Department didn't ask to redact the documents. How exactly would that work?

Hypothetical:
Assange: I'm about to release a crapload of your classified data, want to point out what parts are the most important, so I can report not just on the cables, but on exactly what in them you most want to keep secret. I mean, just in case your enemies would have missed it on their own in all the mess?

You say no one has been killed. Well, two things. Not that we (the public) know of, and not yet. Do you think the Lebanese official who told the U.S. that the Lebanese army would stand down if Israel attacks the Hezbollah terrorist group isn't in fear for his life right now?

How about the Afghans who informed on al-Qaeda. The ones whose names were revealed in an earlier wikileaks release? What do you think their life expectancy is? They also haven't said that no one has been killed, just that no one has been killed that they can directly tie to the leaks. So if Frankie the Stoolie gets gunned down, was it because of that guy who outed him as a stoolie, or was someone just after his wallet? Who can say?

P.S. if all information should be free, no secrets then how about posting your social security number, driver's license number, bank account numbers, mother's maiden name, birth date, etc. here. I mean, it's just information that wants to be free right?

Don Emmerich said...

“You say ‘doing the right thing is hard’. What makes you think Amazon agrees with you about what "the right thing" is here? Maybe they just think that wantonly spilling random American classified data is the wrong thing to do.”

Obviously.


“The information was taken not to expose wrongdoing, but simply to harm America.”

You have no grounds for saying this since you cannot access Julian Assange’s mind. Assange stated his reason for WikiLeaks earlier this year: “We have clearly stated motives, but they are not antiwar motives. We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. And that is our sort of modus operandi behind our whole organization, is to get out suppressed information into the public, where the press and the public and our nation’s politics can work on it to produce better outcomes.”

Don Emmerich said...

“Even apart from any specific damage from particular information he stole, the leaks cause tremendous damage to America.”

The leaks cause tremendous damage to corrupt American officials and to those who want to keep our regime of secrecy. But by forcing the American government to be more transparent, I think they will help the American people.


“We need our diplomats to be honest with us and we want foreign officials to be honest with us, which they can't do if their words will end up on the Internet.”

I don’t think the document dump is completely positive. I personally wish that Assange would have only released certain documents, one which clearly illustrate government wrongdoing. But overall, I think the document dump is positive, for reasons I’ve stated in previous posts.

Don Emmerich said...

“Assange: I'm about to release a crapload of your classified data, want to point out what parts are the most important, so I can report not just on the cables, but on exactly what in them you most want to keep secret. I mean, just in case your enemies would have missed it on their own in all the mess?”

You make no sense here. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out on ‘Democracy Now!’ today: “[WikiLeaks has] certainly made mistakes in the past. I criticized them, for instance, for exercising insufficient care in redacting the names of various Afghan citizens who cooperated with the United States military. They accepted responsibility for that, and in subsequent releases, including in the Iraq document disclosures, they were very careful about redacting those names. And in the current diplomatic cable disclosure, thus far on their website, the only documents that have been posted were cables that were already published by their newspaper partners such as The Guardian and the New York Times and Der Spiegel, which included the redactions that those newspapers applied to those documents to protect the names of various people who are innocent and otherwise might be harmed in an inadvertent way. So they are constantly increasing their safeguards and their scrutiny. They’re perfecting their procedures. They acknowledge the responsibility that they have.”

Don Emmerich said...

“if all information should be free, no secrets then how about posting your social security number, driver's license number, bank account numbers, mother's maiden name, birth date, etc.”

I never said releasing ALL INFORMATION is a good thing.

Bob said...

If they redacted the names, how come I know that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea provided intel to the U.S. that Iran provided submarines to Syria? Or that Elias Murr, the Lebanese Defense Minister told the U.S. that Lebanese forces would stay out of it is Israel fights Hezbollah?

Or should I say the soon to be late Elias Murr and Samir Geagea? Because either Syria, Iran, or Hezbollah is probably going to kill them.

What Assange is doing is exactly the same as someone who publishes a list of undercover police investigating organized crime or a list of confidential informants. Or sells the address of a women's shelter to a domestic abuser.

As you yourself admit, some secrets should not be revealed. What wikileaks is revealing are among them.

As far as I am concerned Bradley Manning and Assange committed conspiracy to commit murder, because the predictable result of revealing that these people are helping the U.S. is that they will be killed. If the espionage act doesn't work, go after them for murder as accomplices when the people they outed get murdered by enemies of the U.S.

Of course, if Assange can't be captured, the government would be within its rights to kill him as a spy.

Don Emmerich said...

Your hypocrisy here is astounding.

Whenever the Israeli military murders Palestinian civilians, your attitude is: Well, you know, shit happens, Israel, wonderful, righteous Israel, does everything within its power to avoid harming civilian [which, of course, is demonstrably false], if you want to blame someone, blame the miserable Palestinians for electing Hamas in 2006.

I imagine that you have the same hatred for all Arabs. I imagine you root for the US whenever we’re supporting Muslim dictators, dropping bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, funding terrorist groups in Iran, etc.

Yet you have the audacity to act morally outraged that people MIGHT die because of Julian Assange, whose goal is to expose government thugs and murderers for the thugs and murderers that they are. You support governments that HAVE murdered innocent civilians, and yet you want to murder Julian Assange because his actions MIGHT led to the deaths of innocents.

Don Emmerich said...

"If they redacted the names, how come I know that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea provided intel to the U.S. that Iran provided submarines to Syria? Or that Elias Murr, the Lebanese Defense Minister told the U.S. that Lebanese forces would stay out of it is Israel fights Hezbollah?"

It's not clear that these revelations came from WikiLeaks:

Lebanese Newspaper Publishes U.S. Cables Not Found on WikiLeaks

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/12/lebanese-newspaper-publishes-us-cables-not-found-on-wikileaks/67430

Bob said...

"It's not clear that"...

Yeah, I'm sure it's just a coincidence that at a time when Wikileaks is spewing U.S. secret cables to the world's newspapers a bunch of U.S. secret cables happened to find their way to a newspaper.

Did you keep a straight face while you wrote that?

As to "supporting governments that murdered innocent civilians". I support governments that accidentally or incidentally kill civilians while attacking legitimate military targets. The alternative is to oppose all government. There is not a national government in the world that hasn't killed innocent civilians. There are few state or local governments who haven't either. Police think someone is armed who isn't, taser someone with a heart condition, shoot a hostage while aiming at a hostage taker, etc. If the military had been more on top of things on 9/11, they would have shot down the planes.

This is a real world we live in, not a fairy tale. There is no such thing as perfect, only varying degrees of imperfect. You support the worst of the worst countries because Israel and the U.S. aren't perfect.

If the U.S. kills Assange it will be war, not murder. No different than killing an enemy soldier on the battlefield. His actions so far will kill far more Americans and American allies than most enemy soldiers do.

Bob said...

BTW, Assange's goal is not to expose thugs and murderers, it is to create anarchy and make the world ungovernable.

Don Emmerich said...

"Or should I say the soon to be late Elias Murr and Samir Geagea? Because either Syria, Iran, or Hezbollah is probably going to kill them."

I really doubt that. Those most important cables released regarding Lebanon are 2-4 years old. Iran and Lebanon have grown fairly close since then. Iran certainly isn't happy about the cables, but so what -- they need Leabnon's support, just as Lebanon needs Iranian economic aid and help with controlling Hezbollah.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/leaks_suggest_iran_is_now_winning_in_the_middle_east_20101207/

Don Emmerich said...

"I support governments that accidentally or incidentally kill civilians while attacking legitimate military targets."

We've been over this before. Remember, I argued -- you know, argued, that is, backed my claims up with evidence -- that Israel has intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians? And remember, you didn't responded to any of my actual arguments but just ranted and articulated all these nifty but totally irrelevant analogies?

Don Emmerich said...

"BTW, Assange's goal is not to expose thugs and murderers, it is to create anarchy and make the world ungovernable."

Of course you have no evidence. You almost never have evidence. You just love to rant.

Don Emmerich said...

"Yeah, I'm sure it's just a coincidence that at a time when Wikileaks is spewing U.S. secret cables to the world's newspapers a bunch of U.S. secret cables happened to find their way to a newspaper."

From Max Fisher at The Atlantic:

"When I asked about the origins of the cables, Al Akhbar [the Lebanese newspaper that published them] executive editor Khaled Saghieh replied, 'We are not in a position to disclose information about who we received these documents from, as the source requested strict anonymity. We have reasons to trust this source.' But whoever that source was, the mere fact that he, she, or they requested anonymity suggests it was not Wikileaks. After all, the group has openly disclosed and actively promoted its role in every one of it leaks. When I pointed this out to Saghieh, he refused to confirm or deny Wikileaks' involvement."

Bob said...

For evidence, I just go by what he says and by what his actions are. He has said he intends to make it impossible for governments to function with any kind of secrecy at any level, with the intent to paralyze them by making them tighten up on the sharing of information so much that they become paralyzed.

Governments can't operate without secrecy. Imaging if you could just look up the names and pictures of all the undercover agents in the mafia.

Meanwhile he is trying to protect himself by blackmailing the U.S. government with "if you stop Wikileaks, then encryption keys to all your secret data gets released".

Don Emmerich said...

So when did he supposedly say that? Can you give me a link?

Bob said...

You provided no evidence that Israel targeted civilians. You have provided some evidence that individual rogue soldiers targeted civilians.

And gee, I'm sure Wikileaks would never ever put out some information openly and some anonymously. I'm sure it's just governments, corporations, every individual person in their private lives, who does that.

Think about it. If they put out the more harmless stuff openly and the really damaging stuff anonymously, then idiots who think they are doing the right thing will give Wikileaks blackmail information on all sorts of companies and governments. If they openly give out the "get people killed" information, people might think twice.

Do you know how many of their "donations" are real and how many are from companies that are paying to keep their information safe? I don't, but what makes you think Wikileaks is trustworthy? Especially after that story back in August about them trying to extort $700,000 for keeping the names of informants in Afghanistan secret. Yeah, about 3/4 of a million dollars for a "harm minimization review". Kind of like when the mob guy says "it would be a shame if something were to happen to your store, I bet $700 a month would keep that from happening".

And what exactly is the benefit to anyone but terrorists from releasing a list of prime targets that the U.S. government considers vital to health, security, etc.?

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/12/07/2010-12-07_digital_extortion.html

Wake up. Assange is a James bond villain, not a good guy.

Don Emmerich said...

"You provided no evidence that Israel targeted civilians."

This is getting tedious. Go back and read what I wrote.

Don Emmerich said...

"And what exactly is the benefit to anyone but terrorists from releasing a list of prime targets that the U.S. government considers vital to health, security, etc.?"

As usual, you're exaggerating the importance of this document. Regarding that cable, even the NY Times admits:

"But the list of 'critical foreign dependencies,' compiled in 2008 from diplomatic missions at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, appears largely limited to sites that any would-be terrorist with Internet access and a bit of ingenuity might quickly have identified."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/world/07sites.html?partner=rss&emc=rss


The AP reports that WikiLeaks has been working with the Guardian et al. to redact the cables so that innocents are not endangered:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0Vruimmvy8loGklsz34QyGDKMDA?docId=120c7bf5d3a34dbaadf1280dace2e456

Bob said...

http://neveryetmelted.com/2010/12/06/wikileaks-blackmail-and-information-war/

http://iq.org/conspiracies.pdf

He sees the U.S. government as a conspiracy and wants to destroy the ability of the government to keep any secrets. Which he thinks will destroy the "conspiracy" (i.e. the government).

Bob said...

This time. As in redacting the cables so innocents are not endangered this time. Unlike last time when they published names of people in Afghanistan helping against the Taliban.

So they pass unredacted releases to newspaper and let the newspapers redact them (Guardian) or not (Lebanese papers). Meanwhile blackmailing the U.S. with their "insurance" file.

Don Emmerich said...

But when did Assange say "he intends to make it impossible for governments to function with any kind of secrecy at any level, with the intent to paralyze them by making them tighten up on the sharing of information so much that they become paralyzed"?

Don Emmerich said...

"This time. As in redacting the cables so innocents are not endangered this time. Unlike last time when they published names of people in Afghanistan helping against the Taliban."

WikiLeaks obviously made a mistake with the Afghan War Logs. They're a young organization, they're learning, and they've since improved their methods.

But regarding the Afghan War Logs, "a senior NATO official in Kabul told CNN that there has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection or to be moved because of the leak."

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/10/16/wikileaks.assessment/

Bob said...

The assessment letter selectively quoted in that article also says "The documents do contain the names of cooperative Afghan nationals and the Department takes very seriously the Taliban threats recently discussed in the press. We assess this risk as likely to cause significant harm or damage to the national security interests of the United States. We are working closely with our allies to determine what risks our mission partners may face as a result of the disclosure."

That's a diplomatic way of putting it. Seriously just how mind-numbingly naive do you have to be to think that the Taliban aren't going to brutally murder anyone they find out is helping the U.S.?

Are you really so far gone that you don't know that the chance of the Taliban letting a U.S. ally live once they find out about him is 0%?

On a different subject, I have a really great deal to offer you on a bridge. It's in Brooklyn.

Bob said...

BTW. I call Bull on the "they're a young organization" as an excuse. I'm not even an organization (think of me as a zero day organization) and I know that revealing the identities of people helping America who live in Afghanistan or Iraq is going to get them killed.

Normally, I think it stupidity or malice are possible explanations, the more likely one is stupidity. However, there are some things that just require too much stupidity to be accidental.

And of course Assange has admitted that he knows the information he publishes is getting people killed, he just doesn't care.
'He said that he had instituted a “harm-minimization policy,” whereby people named in certain documents were contacted before publication, to warn them, but that there were also instances where the members of WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.”'

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian#ixzz17gDoXI1x

This guy has published the names and social security numbers of soldiers (identity theft much?) and a study about vulnerabilities of devices our soldiers use to jam improvised explosive devices, with enough details that insurgents can use them to build more effective bombs. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to publish that kind of information.

Unless you consider defrauding or killing American soldiers to be a "legitimate reason". Do you? Not a rhetorical question. Do you think publishing the social security numbers of U.S. soldiers and secrets about our counterweapons is legitimate?

The only people it can be of use to is people trying to defraud (social security numbers) or kill (improvised explosive device study) our soldiers.

This man is not a legitimate journalist, he is engaged in espionage activities against the united states. That makes him a legitimate target for prosecution or assassination.

Don Emmerich said...

"Seriously just how mind-numbingly naive do you have to be to think that the Taliban aren't going to brutally murder anyone they find out is helping the U.S.?"

Again, who has died because of WikiLeaks?

Again, "[A] senior NATO official in Kabul told CNN that there has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection or to be moved because of the leak."

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/10/16/wikileaks.assessment/

Don Emmerich said...

"I know that revealing the identities of people helping America who live in Afghanistan or Iraq is going to get them killed."

Again, who has died?

Don Emmerich said...

And again, the double standard you apply to this situation is astounding.

You say that Julian Assange is guilty of murder because his actions MIGHT result in the deaths of innocents.

But you don't think the US government is guilty of murder even though they're actions HAVE resulted--and continue to result--in the deaths of innocents.

You say that the US government is exonerated because they don't mean to kill people. They're trying to kill bad guys, they just sometimes inadvertently kill innocents.

But if someone ever does actually die because of WikiLeaks, the same defense could be applied to Julian Assange: We could say that he didn't mean to hurt innocents, he was just trying to expose the wrongdoing and criminality of the US government and in so doing to save the lives of innocents; he just inadvertently got innocents killed.

If this defense works for the US government, then why not for Assange?

Don Emmerich said...

"This man is not a legitimate journalist, he is engaged in espionage activities against the united states."

You don't think he's a legitimate journalist because, unlike most of our establishment journalists, he's committed to exposing the wrongdoing of the US government. A legitimate journalist in your eyes is someone who repeats all your anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim propaganda.

Don Emmerich said...

You still haven't told me who has died because of WikiLeaks.

Don Emmerich said...

You still haven't responded to this question:

You say that Julian Assange is guilty of murder because his actions MIGHT result in the deaths of innocents.

But you don't think the US government is guilty of murder even though they're actions HAVE resulted--and continue to result--in the deaths of innocents.

You say that the US government is exonerated because they don't mean to kill people. They're trying to kill bad guys, they just sometimes inadvertently kill innocents.

But if someone ever does actually die because of WikiLeaks, the same defense could be applied to Julian Assange: We could say that he didn't mean to hurt innocents, he was just trying to expose the wrongdoing and criminality of the US government and in so doing to save the lives of innocents; he just inadvertently got innocents killed.

If this defense works for the US government, then why not for Assange?

Don Emmerich said...

"You can tell that he is doing this to hurt America, not to help it by the fact that most of what he is revealing has nothing to do with wrongdoing."

But I've already explained the good that Assange hopes to accomplish by releasing these cables. As he told Amy Goodman earlier this year: "We have clearly stated motives, but they are not antiwar motives. We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. And that is our sort of modus operandi behind our whole organization, is to get out suppressed information into the public, where the press and the public and our nation’s politics can work on it to produce better outcomes."

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