July 4, 2011

Under attack, WikiLeaks seeks shelter in cold war bunker

WikiLeaks has been fighting a multifront battle to keep its explosive cache of leaked State Department cables available online. Since the material came online Sunday, hackers have been trying to take down the WikiLeaks site, while U.S. political leaders have applied pressure on companies to remove the data clearinghouse’s files from their servers.But will Bahnhof also fold under similar pressure?

Hackers are continuing their distributed denial of service attacks, and the official pressure from political leaders to evict the Wikileaks files from other servers isn’t letting up, either.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee, led by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn), successfully pushed Amazon.com to kick WikiLeaks off its servers on Wednesday. Some commentators were quick to criticize Lieberman’s involvement as stepping over the line of his authority in an effort to squash free speech. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald likened the senator to a “Chinese dictator.”

Amazon Web Services, which doesn’t pre-screen customers who use their servers, claimed that the company wasn’t bowing to political pressure. WikiLeaks, the company said, was removed because it violated terms of service by posting documents that it “doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to.”

But WikiLeaks isn’t buying the explanation and offered its own thoughts over Twitter: “Amazon’s press release does not accord with the facts on public record. It is one thing to be cowardly. Another to lie about it.”

Of course, the New York Times and other news organizations, have posted some of the documents obtained by WikiLeaks on their sites and haven’t faced the same government pressure. WikiLeaks, in possession of 250,000 cables, has actually only published a small percentage of them so far.

The New York Times reports that EveryDNS.net, a U.S.-based domain name provider, has now cut off its service to WikiLeaks. With Wikileaks.org currently down, the organization registered Wikileaks.ch in Switzerland. It was registered, the Times reports, by “the Swiss branch of the Swedish Pirate Party, a political organization that has previously worked with” WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange. For now, that address is working.

WikiLeaks continues to keep files on the servers of Swedish company Bahnhof. Last night, CNN looked at Bahnhof’s cold war bunker, which the company’s chief executive said was inspired by “science fiction and James Bond movies.”