December 01, 2010, 6:53 PM — I know it won't happen because the company's just too busy offering those crazy holiday shipping deals, but it'd be nice if someone from Amazon.com -- you know, like founder and CEO Jeff Bezos -- stepped forward and explained why the online retail giant stopped hosting web site WikiLeaks after only a day or so. Inquiring minds want to know.
The word on the Internet is that Amazon may have caved in to pressure from the U.S. government, which is desperately trying to silence the controversial site after it leaked thousands of confidential U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.
Here's a statement (via Talking Points Memo) from Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee:
"This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the Wikileaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks' previous publication of classified material. The company's decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them."
You left out, "If they know what's good for them," senator. But maybe implying it is good enough.
"Wikileaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company - whether American or foreign - should assist Wikileaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information."
Don't forget all the news organizations that reported the leaked data, Sen. Lieberman. Plus I hear Jon Stewart made some jokes about it. They too should be punished, threatened, or at least forced to take the Government Stooge pledge.
Obviously Amazon doesn't have to explain its actions, and if it says anything at all, it likely will merely point to its policy about reserving the right to cut off hosting services as it sees fit. No argument there. I'm just saying, given the high profile of this ongoing story, that a little clarity would be nice. Of course, we can always wait for someone from Amazon to slip the information to WikiLeaks.
In a bizarre way, this incident is refreshing in that it appears the U.S. government is exerting its will on corporate America, instead of the other way around.