With Amazon dumping Wikileaks
due to pressure from Senator Joe Lieberman, it seems to have only emboldened Lieberman to shred more of the First Amendment he's supposed to be protecting. First, he has continued pressuring other companies
to not host Wikileaks content. This has resulted in Tableau Software removing a visualization of Wikileaks data
. People have pointed out that there was no sensitive data in what it had published, but because of Lieberman's grandstanding, the company felt the need to remove the chart. Of course, you can still find the damn chart everywhere online, and I'm going to publish it here (Senator, feel free to give me a call about this), because it should be damn obvious
that publishing something like this is not revealing any sensitive info. It's all based on the data
around the leaked cables, not the cables themselves.
As if to more directly trample the First Amendment, Lieberman has now introduced an anti-Wikileaks bill
, which would expand the Espionage Act to make it a criminal act if you publish
the name of a US intelligence source. Note that it is already illegal to leak
such a name, but this bill seeks to make it illegal to publish
the names after they've been leaked. This seems like a classic violation of the First Amendment. As Wired notes, something like this would make it illegal for a newspaper to publish the fact that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noreiga was once a paid CIA intelligence source. Hell, there are claims that Osama bin Laden worked with the CIA
decades ago. Should it be illegal to report that?
Here's the really ridiculous aspect of all of this, however. In an internet era when all of these details are available from tons of sources and file sharing networks well beyond any single website, going after websites to censor them and making it a crime to report factual information is such an antiquated and pointless move. Senator Lieberman's actions here are like trying to deal with a few bees entering his home by burning it down. Not only is it a massive overreaction that damages some key infrastructure, but it's also unlikely to be even remotely effective.