Vinegar Joe vs. the First Amendment


As Amazon.com stops hosting WikiLeaks—a result, according to The Guardian, of "heavy political pressure"—the ACLU offers an obvious but unfortunately necessary reminder of why the feds have no right to shutter the site:

The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting WikiLeaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA's secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans. Prosecuting publishers of classified information threatens investigative journalism that is necessary to an informed public debate about government conduct, and that is an unthinkable outcome.

Someone should tell Sen. Joe Lieberman (CFL-Conn.), who today said "If we can't shut this guy down, shame on the civilized world."

Update: TPM has more on Amazon's expulsion of WikiLeaks—and Lieberman's role in making it happen— here. Amazon, meanwhile, is denying that Lieberman's intervention was the deciding factor.