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back to article Wikileaks judge gets Pirate Bay treatment

Every now and again, an event comes along and takes our breath away by reminding us just how far out of step the legal system can be with today's changing world. The latest example is last week's attempt by a federal judge in California to shutter Wikileaks, a website devoted to disclosing confidential information that exposes …

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Black Helicopters

harsh?

Even if the penalty is successful, isn't it a bit harsh? One "libelous" document that is probably true anyway results in a domain name getting shut down?

Wow, shutdown all the websites where I have stored and posted signatures with an unflattering quote of her Shrillaryness.

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Paris Hilton

That jumped out at me

"and uses military-grade encryption" I bet they even have a T1 link :0

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Happy

Undisclosed server location, now comes with a free Cheney(tm).

How undisclosed _are_ these server locations? If we are talking about the mother servers totally disconnected from the Internet where only specially a vetted ninja courier may briefly park outside the cunningly disguised data vault (which, to the untrained eye, would for example look like a motor repair shop that has recently gone out of business) to download the latest compromising stuff over narrow angle radio link before he drives over to the bulletproof hosting service to upload said stuff to the web server, then - ok.

Otherwise it's best to consider all other undisclosed locations as effectively disclosed. Those cables end up _somewhere_.

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Linux

Was it Neuromancer in which the "bad" guys had a satellite

to serve their portion of hte net?

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Happy

Reall efficient

When the New York Times puts up a direct link to the web site you're trying to shut down, you could say that's a backfire.

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Thumb Up

Thanks Judge

I had never heard of Wikileaks until you started this massive PR exercise.

BTW: who's investigating the (alledged) banking irregularities?

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Black Helicopters

Key question: how true are those docs?

I'm only concerned about the checking of veracity of such documents. If I were to generate "proof" that Gordon Brown is in reality a child molester in cahoots with his local parish and get it up on Wikileaks, how would he ever be able to fight that?

I'm OK with disclosure where it makes sense, but in the wrong (politically motivated) hands it strikes me as a dangerous weapon. There are two sides to everything, and Wikileaks is putting itself in a position like George Bush: "above" the law. In other words, some dictator somewhere decides what appears on it.

Now *THAT* scares me. Even when he/she/it is presently benign..

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Coat

Wikileaks should be banned

Would you want your wife or servants accessing this site?

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@Edward Amsden

Presumably wikileaks refused to remove the documents.

Shutting down the site's DNS is simply going one step up the chain: targeting a party that the courts did have jurisdiction over. Given how ineffective it was, you have to wonder why they bothered though ...

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Happy

@AC : "some dictator somewhere decides what appears on it."

At least they have advertised to the thinking masses that whatever is on the site is probably a load of sh1te, by starting its name with 'wiki'.

Its only the bebo!yahoo!yay! crowd that will take it as read, and they'll all hit puberty soon and find something else to get emotional about. All in all, nothing to worry about methinks.

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Unhappy

Even weirder ...

According to the wikileaks site, BJB's lawyers got in contact with them prior to the court case, and even had a telephone call with Wikileaks' Californian legal representatives.

When it came to the actual court case, they were only given notice by email, hours prior to the hearing, so were not represented. Their lawyer was asked to leave when she attended unofficially.

There seems like so many reasons to overturn this decision ...

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Re: Key question: how true are those docs?

Maybe you missed it, but Wikileaks is a wiki. That means that "Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity." There are other checks in place too, so there should be little danger for what you're talking about. Sheesh! Can't people look up anything?... Now *THAT* scares me.

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Anonymous Coward

Apparently the decision has been modified..

Maybe the judge saw sense after all..

As for veracity - I have been asked to assist in one of those "grassroots" efforts to validate what was basically a load of BS. It's been a while since I used such strong language for an answer :-).

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Silver badge

Thanks for alterting me to the existance of wikileaks

I have now added it to my list of favourite web sites and added wikileaks.org to my /etc/hosts, with the comment ''Up yours Judge White'' -- well that bit makes me feel better :-)

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Stop

Re: Key question: how true are those docs?

"There are two sides to everything, and Wikileaks is putting itself in a position like George Bush: "above" the law."

Really? Since when has US law applied in Sweden?

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*WIKI*leaks

I think it's important that everybody bear in mind the *WIKI* part here: You can't have an outfit like this operating above the law. This will become a haven for slander, hearsay and conspiracy theory.

Of course the wikipedophiles will immediately post back, telling me that the content is going to be screened and edited by other users, thereby improving it's reliability. Let's just say I'm SCEPTICAL about that. Even if a slander were to be later retracted, by that point its already been published, and I can't do anything about that. I prefer to have some legal redress if somebody slanders me, and this site give people total anonymity to say what they about who they like.

Sounds like another classic PirateBay type operation. These guys try to portray themselves as Robin Hood figures, am I the only one who is not convinced?

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PRQ work ethics

"You might have to call a few times to get a response in case the person on-call is asleep"

This is brilliant, I'm going to host all my sites here from now on!

Even better, I wonder if they have any jobs going...

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Go

Ouch !

Ouch , it reminded me of a very popular best selling book written back in the late sixties , the man was truly accurate in his predictions !

Me thinks the Red Pen and the margin notes in history will not reflect very kindly on this Judge especially on the intertubes for he will be well and truly roasted as the children of the net have found a new play toy , till the next victim comes along !

@ac the researchers at wiki have extensive access to a huge library bank of floating information and numerous pool of resources and quite a few legal consultants and the reason for the military grade security is because they do receive a very large amount of sensitive factual official documents to back up the allegations and go to great lengths to weed out the obvious plants and dogs prior to publication !

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Re: Key question

Well how can you find out how true the documents are when they are being shut out of dissemination? How can you find out the truth when any possible evidence is hidden by "trade secret" or "confidentiality clauses"?

If they are innocent of charges, the bank should either open up the documents (and allow them to be verified) that show their innocence or accept that the price of keeping secrets is that you cannot prove your innocence.

And if they aren't innocent, their only way of faking innocence is to try to close up the accusations of guilt.

To the AC's, you cannot prove innocence by saying "that could be made up", you can only prove innocence in the exposure of evidence showing proof. Or at the least showing evidence that the proofs out there are incorrect. You can't just say "they aren't true because they aren't proven".

PS I'm reminded of Judge Whitey from Futurama.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

To people calling for anything like Wikileaks to be shut down

I just go "gah". If people are totally incapable of evaluating the quality of their sources then what the hell are they are they doing, well, passing any kind of judgement or commenting on anything really.... Then again I might have too much faith in the capabilities of the average journalist and population?

Anyway you won't prevent people from slandering other, calling them names, spreading rumours and so forth. The only thing which the internet does is to potentially expose all this private gossip which has been going on since ages immemorial to public eyes.

You could lock down the entire affair, vet every line of writing on it and so forth but it would kill so many advantages of the net that it just wouldn't be worth doing that (not to mention the general outcry by most users). Unfortunately that would be the only way to prevent malicious rumours from ever surfacing, and as stated above once they're out there they tend to stay out there.

One thing that might be useful would be to introduce a "judgement of Fact" or whatever you might care to call it. Basically, If you identify a slanderous comment which you want to address you can bring it to the attention of a judge or arbitration panel and contest it. They'll evaluate the evidence for and against and issue a ruling. It would e a way to set the record straight and if, say, a potential employer/client were to ask about something they read on the net you could point to that judgement. Details would need to be nailed out etc (who would pay, who will argue for the potential slanderer, etc).

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Coat

@ Jerry

I think this morning's "test" firing proves that even satellite based web hosting is no longer safe.

Tinfoil one please.

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Unhappy

Poor Judge White

He accepts the arguments of the bank's advocates at an ex parte hearing (that is one the other side is unrepresented), takes up a copy of the orders that the bank's advocates have drafted, and issues them with his signature at the bottom.

You have to realise people that in most instances the judges don't draft the orders - they take the orders drafted by the 'winning side' and make any small adjustments that are necessary. Assuming that that is what happend in this case, Judge White has been pilloried for doing what he, and every other judge presiding in common law jurisdictions, do every day.

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@ Phil

...And exactly how many hosting providers with less than 20 employees have dedicated 24/7 staff? Not even our upstream providers do. It's probably somewhat different in countries with lower taxes on labour, though...

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re: Was it Neuromancer in which the "bad" guys had a satellite

In Neuromancer and Count Zero, satellite ownership is fairly ubiquitous and time can be rented on many in a free market.

I think you're more thinking of 'Bob' Rife in Snowcrash, who not only had his own satellites, but actually hosted the Metaverse, the main abstraction layer of the global network.

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Ash
Flame

Proposal

Re-branding of the internet.

I propose the name "AmericaNet", or "FreedomNet".

Maybe even "LibertyNet".

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Defamation

When our governments cease to regularly defame innocent individuals as terrorists/murderers/paedophiles - and compounding their error by locking them up with a lot of very violent men - I will consider expending one smidgen, one tiny iota of my concern on the possibility of governments being defamed by individuals who operate a private and open website with a fairly good, albeit short, reputation for being right.

Don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

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Joke

Correction

... the BitTorrent tracker site that, as a frequent target of the Hollywood elite (and Prince).

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Flame

@Ash

you forgot the "Skynet"

/paging Sarah Connor

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Was it deliberate?

The judge has been so thorough at achieving the exact opposite of what the bank wanted that you wonder whether he did this deliberately!

Or perhaps I'm just too charitable...

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Alert

Re: Poor Judge White

One should think that a judge at least reads and, just for about one half second, thinks about a writ he signs. This case has more holes in it than a sieve. IANAL, but from what I got to read about the entire affair, the judge should have heard the alarm bells ringing the moment the bank asked to shut down a site hosted outside his jurisdiction and started an inqiury into the business practices of the bank.

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Ru

Military encryption?

Pedant mode on...

Sounds unlikely, to be honest. Anyone got any idae what is inside those little black encryption boxes used to handle top-secret government and military of data? No. The encryption tools, the algorithms they use, and the design process behind them is all classified.

I guess AES could be used on top secret data now, however seeing that everyone+dog has access tothat algorithm it isn't really 'military' in any sense.

Meh.

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JackA$$ Judge

OMFG Michael you are my Hero of the hour here :) I feel you hit the nail on the head so Im gonna add my 10 cents worth as well. :)

I think there are many things people need to do prior to making comments on various topics.

1. Read the article as well as related articles so you know what it is about.

2. Understand that Laws and Social trends differ from Country to Country, State to State and city to city.

3. The U.S. Government has NO jurisdiction outside the U.S. They try to make you think they do but its just part of the Governments Arrogant American Attitude.

POINT: Based on U.S. Laws The site Wikileaks.org regardless if the posted information is True or not has not engaged in any Crime.

OK now at least in the U.S. Censorship is a no no even thought it does happen.

This Judge White has made a clearly unconstitutional order. Judge White is a Bush apointed judge and I would guess has a "Ill do whatever I want" attitude. Its a trend in the Bush administration and those Bush has apointed to various positions.

I have yet to find any case law that allows this Judge to order DNS modifications and feel this order will be reversed soon. The Judges earlier order had no legal standing since it was directed to involved parties outside the U.S. and this nitwit Judge has NO authority outside the U.S. regardless what he thinks.

I think the Urgent message this story and issue with Wikileaks.org is people need to be concerned with is not whats on the site, if its true or not but the fact that once again the U.S. Government is sticking its nose in places it has No business, trying to claim jurisdiction worldwide ( the U.S. fails to understandbut that the jurisdiction boundries stop at the U.S. border) and continue to violate the Constitutional Rights of Americans.

In the U.S. I actually have the right to say, print or otherwise make a statement like "Judge White is a missinformed arrogant F#$KER who seems to have a mental disorder" and to censor that is Illegal. Judge White however could take me to "Civil Court" if my statement was false however making that statement in no way is a Crime.

I know everyone sees things in a variety of ways and to me, I could give a rats a$$ about what "Documents" were on the site, if they were seceret, stolen, leaked or false, Im looking at the ILLEGAL actions that was used by a Jackass Judge to try to have them removed.

There ya go, thats my extended rant.

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Gates Halo

Bush Appointee!

For the sake of brevity, this explains it all:

Lecturer Jeffrey S. White has been nominated by President Bush to the federal bench

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Anonymous Coward

@gottfrid

"...And exactly how many hosting providers with less than 20 employees have dedicated 24/7 staff? Not even our upstream providers do. It's probably somewhat different in countries with lower taxes on labour, though..."

ummm, you can get that easily in the UK, certainly the company I work for provides some hosting services (in addition to other services), and those services are maintained with 24 hour support available by email and telephone.

with less than 20 people in the support team as well.

so in answer to your question, at least 1, most likely more hosting providers can and do provide real 24 hour support, (not when I wake up support).

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US law doesn't apply out of the US - surprise!

Someone needs to break it to da judge that he isn't god . . .

About ten years ago, I was doing business in the UK with a company I shall call ABC Financial. Small family firm, half a dozen employees. Turns out there was another ABC Financial, this one based in New York, huge company with 6,000+ employees, owner was a good friend of Bill Clinton (who was acting out of character, Democratic scandals usually involve sex, Republican scandals usually involve money).

ABC in New York sicced their entire legal staff onto ABC/UK, screaming you can't use our name, we're gonna sue your pants off, you're gonna die!!!! (Even though ABC/UK had no US presence and had been in business LONGER than ABC/NY, and ABC/NY did no business in the UK and didn't have any offices there.)

Result - ABC/UK retains US lawyer who researches this and tells ABC/NY to go piss up a rope: "The United Kingdom is not part of the USA, and USA laws do not apply there. If you want to sue ABC/UK, you will need to do it in the UK, under UK law, and hire a team of expensive UK lawyers. You will not win, these people don't like to be bullied and you are going to spend a lot of money only to get your butts kicked."

ABC/NY made a bunch of nasty noises and finally went away, knowing they really didn't have a leg to stand on. A few years later ABC/NY went bankrupt - ABC/UK is still there.

My wife was the US lawyer ABC/UK retained to defend against the jerks in NY, and we still smile about it.

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Pirate

@Michael

I have documentary evidence that you are a serial murderer (and worse), and I'm going to prove it on my new website.

Welcome to the internet

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Happy

@4a$$Monkey

Don't forget the Village People too...they count more than Prince.

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Paris Hilton

@Ru

technically, we speak of "civil" and "military" *grade* encryption. this gets back to the time where 3DES was the NSA standard. civilians (the few who could get their filthy geek hands on a early IBM/PC) where constrained to "low grade" encryption algorithm, "high grade" (such as 3DES) was under the same regulation as war materials. in fact over here in sarkoland we are legally still constrained to a 56bits maximum symetric cypher. not that anyone cares.

as for document authenticity : that's not binary. you can't uniquely identifie a leaked information as "authentic" or "fake" intelligence would be SO much more easy. you'll have to make research, gather contextual information, and yes, if that piece fits perfectly in the puzzle you can say you have a high probability of allegation being true.

PH, because i'd take a wikileak on her face with my friends anytime.

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To the AC

So what? You aren't going to be able to convict on that basis: you yourself have no power to do so and you won't be able to get a court to agree to take it on.

So feel free to say *I* am the greatest danger to civilisation since MechaStreisand.

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Crazy like a fox

Federal judges are not the most stupid people in the world and lawyers practicing intellectual property law in federal court similarly make it a practice to keep up with areas of law and practice within their expertise. Has anyone considered that the judge may have had some sympathy towards wikileaks and signed the order knowing for well its effects, or lack thereof? I recognize that it is a stretch in this particular case, but without knowing the judge, I wouldn't rule it out.

GBG, Esq.

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Paris Hilton

Just a note

"you can only prove innocence" - no, you can't prove innocence. You can prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Any documents presented can cast doubt on guilt. Innocence is presumed until otherwise proven. Oh, here by us it is at least...

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Just remember...

>For the sake of brevity, this explains it all:

>Lecturer Jeffrey S. White has been nominated by President Bush to the federal

>bench

How long do judges typically serve? 20 years? 30 years?

They seldom are appointed younger the 40 -- an age which barely gives them 15 years experience since they passed the bar. 25 years and most are looking to the golf course then the court room.

GWB's been in office 8 years, so it's safe to assume about 1/3rd of all judges are his appointees.

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@ bob_blah

"Judge White has been pilloried for doing what he, and every other judge presiding in common law jurisdictions, do every day."

And he should be pilloried for it. It's his *job* to make judgments based on arguments presented. Failing (or refusing) to hear the arguments of one side in a dispute makes it impossible to make an impartial judgment.

Judges who simply rubber-stamp the orders drafted by the plaintiff ought to be deported to France.

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Re: Military encryption

"Anyone got any idae what is inside those little black encryption boxes used to handle top-secret government and military of data?"

Yes, actually. I held a top Secret/Special Compartmented Information clearance.

GPG 2048-bit keys are significantly more secure than "those little black encryption boxes" you like so much. The "strength" of an encryption method is measured in how long it will take to crack it. The LBEB is good enough, because the value of the information encrypted degrades faster than the time it takes to crack the encryption. GPG cracks can be measured in centuries, which is probably long enough to protect anyone posting a leaked document.

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@Simon Greenwood

>> In Neuromancer and Count Zero, satellite ownership is fairly ubiquitous and time can be rented on many in a free market.

Naah - That's not what Jerry refers to:

In Neuromancer the panther moderns hijack as a kind of private joke the satlink of the "Sons of Christ the King" for the run on sense-net.

Reading Gibson these days is like reading a history book ...

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Linux

So many of these comments are ill-informed

First of all, you can most certainly prove innocence. In criminal cases you aren't *required* to. The plaintiff must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not, however, preclude the defendant from proving their innocence (i.e. an iron-clad alibi). This point is moot, however, since the case in discussion (or should I say "duh-scussion" is not a criminal case. It's a civil case with an entirely different standard for guilt called "preponderance of evidence". In general this standard proves to be a much lower barrier for proving guilt (see O.J. Simpson). In a civil case you most certainly do need to prove your innocence lest the balance of evidence shift in the plaintiff's favor.

Secondly, U.S. law may not directly apply in other countries, however international law as set forth by treaties does. The U.S. has a wide set of agreements with other countries concerning intellectual property and other matters.

For everyone here unfamiliar with how the U.S. legal system works (apparently most of the commentators), this judgment is undoubtedly the first step in further litigation. In order for the case to proceed to a court that actually has some jurisdiction, the judge in question *had* to make the judgment as he did, including sanctions, enforceable or not. Since the defendants have defied his order, the next step will be an appeal to a higher court for relief. Eventually, if the case is deemed important enough, political pressure will be applied to get the government where the defendants apparently reside or do business to force compliance. It's a process. If you don't understand this, then you really have no opinion on the matter.

Incidentally, I agree with "Mark", who points out that secrecy is a double-edged sword. The bank must choose between secrecy and reputation. Proving your innocence is quite difficult when you refuse to divulge anything. While disproving wild allegations can be difficult (and may simply require suing for libel), an air of secrecy casts a pall over the reputation of those keeping the secrets.

On a different note, while I agree that "military-grade encryption" no longer has much meaning (since the military uses the same encryption methods as most civilians these days), I'd like to point out that "classified" carries little meaning. There are different grades of "classified" and as far as encryption goes, the grade of classification is basically "need to know". The military is not a closed system. Thousands of contractors all over the U.S. are privy to the encryption techniques used by the military (I used to work in this industry and you'd be surprised at how not secret it all is). In fact, the encryption standards are a document that contractors must comply with. How can you comply with something you aren't privy to? You can't. Back in the days of easily cracked encryption schemes, secrecy was quite important, but these days encryption schemes stand on their own: they are either secure or they aren't. Security through obscurity (i.e. secrecy) is frowned upon in favor of actual functional security measures.

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Coat

@PoliticalPsychosis

@PoliticalPsychosis , I would suggest you get hold of US Federal Government publications "The NORTH American Free Trade Agreement with Switzerland" circa 2006/7 also a copy of the DMCA Bono Act 1998(even the intertubes has full pdf views of same papers too!) and please read them from cover to cover , it may help you understand a few facts of life as the former explains certain legal obligations in the US legal system to honour the latter and apply similar standards of IP protection rights of the Swiss Bank as that which applies to US based companies or corporations up to a point !

Further reading of newspaper archives on the subjects in question both in USA and Switzerland will provide additional information to assist you in updating your opinion on the matter !

Sadly for reasons unknown , the Judge in question made a decision in a very rushed fast track one sided hearing and limited it to truncated restricted information he allowed to be presented in court as evidence for the plaintiff and chose not to view the big picture or seek additional evidence from either the defendant or seek advice from external court appointed technical expert consultants and in doing created this very odd decision of taking down the entire web site which contained numerous additional non related information which had nothing to do with the case he was handling ! In some ways it could be likened to Pontius Pilate style theatrics of "I wash my hands" the decision is done. In reality and hindsight it was not a very good choice either way for man well versed in legal teaching of theory with minimal court appearance in real time , prior to his appointment to the federal bench in 2002 by GW Bush !

Oh well , have fun with your research and remember the intertubes search engines are your best friend and we are supposed to live in an age of information of the million answers to every question floating around disjointed with a unique life of their own , on the net seeking out the very questions that asked them!

(I'll get my coat )

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Go

Interesting

Well nearly. What's interesting is the doomed-to-failure order that has correctly been identified as unconstitutional on several counts. But the information being leaked, dull as dishwater. What? You mean there's a bank in the Cayman Islands that does dodgy things with money? My GOD!! yawn.

Now if they had documents proving the existence of alien invaders in the administration, who were about to force the President to go to war with Canada, then we'd have some fun news. Or if they had the plans for a working X-Wing fighter and published those, then we'd have some intellectual property to get excited about.

As to whether the defendant has to listen to anything a judge in California says, well that depends on where that defendant lives. Certainly the hosting company is outside of the judge's jurisdiction - at the moment. But as one person has correctly pointed out, this is a process. You have to steadily work your way through the court system until you reach somewhere that has the required jurisdiction and authority.

Chances are that most of this will come to nothing though. No dashing across borders, no rendition of Swedish nationals to prisons in Iran to discover who they're protecting in the US.

No, my guess is if there is even the slightest hint of truth to these documents, the US government will want to have nothing to do with it at all. No one will touch protecting a bank that may launder drug money in the year of a Presidential election. Even if they know the documents are all bullshit, they still won't want to touch this. A little thing like the truth has never stopped the media, or a political party looking to score points with the public, from smearing someone.

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Stop the leaks? Hah

The internet is a essentially a system of organized leaks. All this great information leaking around, leaking everywhere. And of course plain text is the easiest kind of information to leak. It's way too late to shut it down. Nothing can stop it.

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