Gov’t Censorship Alert: U.S. Judge Shuts Down

U.S. Federal District Judge (Northern District of California, San Francisco Division) Jeffrey White, a Bush appointee, has ordered the Internet Service Provider Dynadot to shut down the important whistleblowing site, Wikileaks. In recent months, Wikileaks has published important documents related to Guantanamo’s Standard Operating Procedures, the heretofore secret Rules of Engagement of the U.S. in the Iraq War, as well as bank fraud in Kenya.

Dynadot shall immediately clear and remove all DNS hosting records for the domain name and prevent the domain name from resolving to the website or any other website or server other than a blank park page, until further order of this Court.

The good folks at Wikileaks have anticipated something of this sort sooner or later, and have a number of mirror sites hosted outside the U.S., so they can still be accessed here and here. But this attempt at outright censorship must be overturned. This is not China censoring government critics, or some small corrupt country trying to hide its dirty laundry. This is a U.S. judge, at an ex parte hearing (no one from Wikileaks was even present or represented), acting like a totalitarian factotum.

A Wikileaks press release explains:

The order was written by Cayman Island’s Bank Julius Baer lawyers and was accepted by judge White without amendment, or representations by Wikileaks or amicus. The case is over several Wikileaks articles, public commentary and documents dating prior to 2003. The documents allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion. The bank alleges the documents were disclosed to Wikileaks by offshore banking whistleblower and former Vice President the Cayman Island’s operation, Rudolf Elmer. Unable to lawfully attack Wikileaks servers which are based in several countries, the order was served on the intermediary Wikileaks purchased the ‘’ name through — California registrar Dynadot, who then used its access to the internet website name registration system to delete the records for ‘’. The order also enjoins every person who has heard about the order from from even linking to the documents….

Wikileaks will keep on publishing, in-fact, given the level of suppression involved in this case, Wikileaks will step up publication of documents pertaining to illegal or unethical banking practices.

Wikileaks has six pro-bono attorney’s in S.F on roster to deal with a legal assault, however Wikileaks was given only hours notice “by email” prior to the hearing. Wikileaks was NOT represented. Wikileaks pre-litigation California council Julie Turner attended the start of hearing in a personal capacity but was then asked to leave the court room.

White signed the order, drafted by the Cayman Islands bank’s lawyers without a single amendment.

The injunction claims to be permanent, although the case is only preliminary.

In a diary at the top of the Recommended List right now over at Daily Kos, Stephen Soldz makes the important point that there have been other attempts in U.S. history to

… block publication of particular documents, most famously in 1971 when the Nixon administration attempted to stop publication by the New York Times of excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. But trying to close down an entire site in this way is truly unprecedented. Not even the Nixon administration, when they sought to block publication of the Pentagon Papers, considered closing down the New York Times in response.

It’s hard to believe that this judge’s ruling will be left to stand. But in today’s political environment, nothing must be taken for granted. It’s not clear how to support Wikileaks in this instance, as they haven’t released a call for any specific action. Of course, this has just happened. It is our job to spread the news far and wide and put the heat on the powers that be that this blatant unconstitutional prior restraint of the press will not stand.

For Presidents Day, remember the freedom that the founding fathers fought for, and let everyone know that U.S. courts are trying to shut down whistleblowers, and the internet sites that publish what they find. I don’t think I need to belabor the importance of this, as any site could be affected this way, and all reasonable discussion shut down.


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    • Valtin on February 18, 2008 at 17:14

    I have to leave for my own Presidents Day outing, so I can’t stay around to contribute to comments. But I thought this really needed to get out there. And I thank profusely Stephen Soldz for bringing the work of Wikileaks to a larger audience, and for sounding the tocsin as they have come under attack.

    • pfiore8 on February 18, 2008 at 17:31

    thanks Valtin.

    perhaps this needs a rec button to keep it on the essay list.

  1. The order (pdf) makes it clear that Wikileaks and may not have been served with the summons and complaint, but that Dynadot consented to the injunction.

    The order says:

    The Court, having considered the stipulation between Plaintiffs JULIUS BAER & CO. LTD and JULIUS BAER BANK AND TRUST CO. LTD. (collectively “Julius Baer” and/or

    “Plaintiff’s”) and Defendant DYNADOT LLC (“Dynadot”), the complaint, and other papers, evidence, and arguments presented by the parties,

    The order doesn’t say that Wikileaks or the entity that runs it got served or named in the case.  The order does show that Dynadot was named and that then Dynadot “stipulated” i.e. consented to the “permanent injunction.”

  2. from BBC:

    A document signed by Judge Jeffery White, who presided over the case, ordered Dynadot to follow six court orders.

    As well as removing all records of the site form its servers, the hosting and domain name firm was ordered to produce “all prior or previous administrative and account records and data for the domain name and account”.

    The order also demanded that details of the site’s registrant, contacts, payment records and “IP addresses and associated data used by any person…who accessed the account for the domain name” to be handed over.


    An ex parte hearing on a motion for prior restraint is conducted without adequate notice to either the ISP or the third party website and results in a permanent (true?) injunction summarily putting the website out of business and ordering the content neutral ISP to divulge its entire client file.

    That a Federal judge would so wholeheartedly cooperate in this judicial ambush is atrocious.

  3. will be up in arms over an “activist” judge.

  4. in my humble opinion.

    • Valtin on February 19, 2008 at 01:52

    Cut and paste the above into your browser address window and press “return”, and you are taken to Wikilinks website. Why you can do this but not access via, perhaps someone with the requisitie web experience/understanding can explain to me.

    DocGonzo at DKos pointed this out in Soldz’s diary on the subject.

  5. a subsidiary of The Bildeburg Group!

    Gee, I have to find their logo.

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