Amazon to stop hosting WikiLeaks

Cables reveal role of technology in diplomacy

Amazon.com pulled the plug today on the WikiLeaks Web site it had been hosting, reports CNBC.com.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, (I-Conn.), said the move came as reports surfaced that WikiLeaks had asked Amazon to host its website on its servers after the WikiLeaks site was attacked, according to CNBC.

WikiLeaks will now be hosted in other countries across Europe, writes Sky News.

WikiLeaks, whose purpose is to reveal classified information, had recently released hundreds of thousands of intercepted cables when it was hit by two distributed denial of service attacks, one of which succeeded in knocking the site hosting the cables offline for a few hours.

The cables contain secrets that reveal technology’s role in U.S. diplomacy. Of the 250,000 diplomatic cables acquired by WikiLeaks, there are more than 10,000 leaks on technology, Internet policies, cyber security practices, and the IT systems of the U.S. countries and other countries, reports InformationWeek.

In particular, the WikiLeak cables finger China as the culprit in the cyberattack on Google’s computer network in January. It is believed a top Chinese official ordered the hack after Googling himself, notes Information Week. Among the cables, is a dispatch describing a Chinese contact informing the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that China’s Politburo sanctioned the attack on Google, according to USA Today.

The New York Times reports that the attack was part of “a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.” 

The WikiLeaks cable makes it clear, notes the Daily Beast blog, that Beijing directed hacks into not only Google, but also U.S. and Western allies’ computers, the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents, and even the Dalai Lama’s computer.

Some other examples, according to InformationWeek:

  • A Brazilian general asks for American assistance in the form of “courses” and “visits” after being concerned that the country’s computer systems, including classified networks, lack appropriate protection.
  • A statement from a supporter of failed Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi claims the IT director for the nation’s election office was executed after the vote tabulation showed President Mahmound Ahmsinejad coming in third in the 2009 Presidential election.
  • A suggestion to implant microchips in Guantanamo Bay detainees as a way of tracking their movements. White House Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan responds by saying “horses don’t have good lawyers.”

The White House responded to the reports by saying the cables often include “candid and often incomplete information,” writes the New York Times.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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Reader comments

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 Jeffrey A. Williams

I am surprised that any Brizilian Sr. military officer would be asking the US government for any classes and/or other assistance after this Wikileaks incident. Further I agree with amazon's actions here simply on the grounds that no US based company should be aiding Wikileaks in their efforts in this particular sort of leaking. Still this said, it is clear to me at least that our State Department of late has been enguaging in a very dangerous game and this time they got cought with their toungs wagging in a very public way. Yet i also understand that our diplomatic core needs to take whatever advantage of technology it can to best represent and defend the interests of American citizens. Still though snooping on the UN in particular, seems to me to be crossing the line and leaves Americans potentially exposed for perhaps years to come as well as demonstrates that perhaps even our allies and friends abroad cannot trust us to the extent we want or need them too.

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