The First Amendment of the US Constitution has protected the rights of the press in many legal battles throughout history, but last week, when US District Judge Jeffrey White signed a permanent injunction (PDF)
ordering wikileaks.org shut down, it was a disturbing indicator of the uncertain status of press freedoms in the United States. Wikileaks
describes itself as "developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis," and indeed, although the wikileaks.org domain is no longer active, the site continues to be mirrored at various domains around the world. As Bob Egelko at the San Francisco Chronicle
points out, the "site was the first to post the confidential Defense Department manual about operations of the U.S. detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, and has also posted rules of engagement for U.S. forces in Iraq."
But it wasn't the publication of subterranean government documents that eventually triggered the federal government's wrath (though it's possible that may have played a motivating factor). According to the Chronicle, the judge ordered the site to be shut down, "after it posted documents purporting to describe offshore activities of a Swiss bank."… Read more