Saturday, December 4, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg: a public service announcement - Boycott Amazon

Wikileaks, of which I will say more again soon (see also here and here), is acting like the fourth estate, exposing the vast secrecy of governments and it seems other corrupt organizations - watch out Bank of America - to daylight. This is an important aspect in rights-preserving constitutional and democratic theory (the American abridgment of liberty, for instance, interfering with Spanish legal proceedings in the American murder of the Spanish reporter Jose Couso at the Baghdad Hotel in 2004). Because of this, fascists, like William Kristol and the claque at National Review have called to off Julian Assange, its public face. Reporters and talking heads in the American commercial media speak, as does the political class, with contempt for Wikileaks. The corporate media have forfeited any claim to be a check on foul governmental power (i.e. the Iraq War, American torture and the like) or to protect citizens against it. The Obama government has announced to all foreign service officers and others: do not look at or cite Wikileaks on your government or personal computers (even to check if one of your memos has been released). In another incarnation, Joe Lieberman was pro-civil rights as a college newpaper editor at Yale. Now an odious imperialist, he adds the mantle of Joe McCarthy to his already vast chain of crimes (being near Christmas, one thinks of Marley, Scrooge’s partner in A Christmas Carol, lugging his long chain; Joe, an orthodox Jew, might have chosen some other model...). His assistants (read: little vipers; I apologize for speciesism) called Amazon one afternoon last week, asking when Amazon was going to cancel being a site for Wikileaks – and Amazon caved. See Glenn Greenwald here and here. This is an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press (it is particularly ignominious now for “reporters” to scorn and seek to suppress Wikileaks, to join the manhunt for Assange). Daniel Ellsburg responds in English to this remarkable threat to liberty. The boycott is a powerful weapon. I am happy to join him. We all might.

Open letter to Customer Service:
December 2, 2010

I’m disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating today its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers. I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.

For the last several years, I’ve been spending over $100 a month on new and used books from Amazon. That’s over. I ask Amazon to terminate immediately my membership in Amazon Prime and my Amazon credit card and account, to delete my contact and credit information from their files and to send me no more notices.

I understand that many other regular customers feel as I do and are responding the same way. Good: the broader and more immediate the boycott, the better. I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business. I’ve asked friends today to suggest alternatives, and I’ll be exploring service from Powell’s Books, Half-Price Books, Biblio and others.

So far Amazon has spared itself the further embarrassment of trying to explain its action openly. This would be a good time for Amazon insiders who know and perhaps can document the political pressures that were brought to bear–and the details of the hasty kowtowing by their bosses–to leak that information. They can send it to Wikileaks (now on servers outside the US), to mainstream journalists or bloggers, or perhaps to sites like that have now appropriately ended their book-purchasing association with Amazon.

Yours (no longer), Daniel Ellsberg


Maha said...

Cheers, Professor Gilbert! I'm right there with you! Boycott Amazon AND PayPal! Did you hear about why Interpol's trying to arrest Assange? Sweden's "rape means sex without a condom" law.

"Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only an offense in Sweden—not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza. I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls." [Mark Stephens, Assange's lawyer]

Anonymous said...

I have mailed Amazon that I will try to avoid them as much as possible, and buy my books from a competitor, such as alibris.

Alan Gilbert said...

Maha -

The comment by Mark Stephens is wonderful. Sweden is freer than other places about sex, and has adopted higher standards for consent - but the word rape, probably even among trolls, does not refer to nonuse of a condom. There is also material circulating on the web that one of the women is an anti-Castro activist perhaps even vaguely allied with the reactionary terrorist Jose Possada Carriles (the one who blew up the Venezuelan plane and has been resettled in/protected by the United States). It is hard to believe that some person, supposedly an organizer of an event for Wikileaks and politically on the same side as Assange, that is, a person lacking political enmity, would seek to attack Assange over problematic (but hardly nonconsensual) sex. The case was also dropped by the prosecutor and restored within one day politically by another. The more that comes out, the more odd this "case" is, aside from being part of a larger pattern of vicious pressure from the American government. Obama has wisely kept silent about his. But his administration plus Republican/Canadian government (Harper's advisor)/Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democratic) and other criers for assassination is going to make Assange, in addition to a decent man and a defender of democracy, the cause of a widespread resistance.

Bravo, Martoiu.

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