Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dirty secrets

According to a story in The New York Times, a federal judge in San Francisco, Jeffery S. White, has just ordered the "disabling" of a Web site, Wikileaks.org, that specialized in providing a place for people to anonymously post "leaks" of information from governments and companies around the world. Wikileaks claims that it acts as a sort of watchdog, shining the light of day on wrongdoings by governments and companies. This particular suit was brought by a Cayman Islands bank, Julius Baer Bank and Trust, because a "disgruntled ex-employee" had posted some of the bank's secret documents. According to Wikileaks, the documents -- which Julius Baer Bank is apparently not challenging the authenticity of -- show that the bank secretly conducts asset hiding, money laundering, and tax evasion activities.

Anyway, the interesting thing about The Times article is that the newspaper makes a particular point of publicizing that all the judge's order does is disable the Wikileaks.org domain name, and that the site is still available through its IP address. And The Times goes a step further and actually publishes the IP address (, in case you're interested), sort of flaunting that the leaks are still available. The Times also mentions that overseas and third-party mirror sites of Wikileaks are not affected.

Does it sound to you like the Times is going out of its way to tweak the judge's nose?

It does to me.

Do you think it might be that The Times is moved to tweak the judge's nose because of the similarity between this case -- publishing dirty secrets -- and The Times's own Pentagon Papers case back in 1971? A case which The Times eventually won?

I think it might be.

The judge's order seems likely to be overturned -- the First Amendment implications are considerable -- but in the meatime do you think it's just great that The Times is tweaking this judge's nose?

I do!



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