Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for outing the now famous Pentagon Papers in 1971, and a group of ex-intelligence officers have thrown their weight behind Wikileaks and its founder, saying the current attempt to label Wikileaks' leaks as trivial compared to the Pentagon Papers is wrong.
The Pentagon Papers include 7,000 pages of documents collected by the US military about decision making during the Vietnam war that showed US leaders believed early on that the war could not be won and would lead to many more casualties than ever stated publicly.
In a statement, Ellsberg and associates said comparisons saying the Pentagon Papers were good while WikiLeaks' material is bad is, "just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on Wikileaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."
On his own blog, Ellsberg said he would no longer use Amazon.com due to its "cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers."
Amazon has denied government influence swayed its decision to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers, saying the site broke user rules. The US Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Lieberman, had asked Amazon to stop hosting the controversial website.
Other major US Internet companies have also hurt WikiLeaks. Ebay's PayPal service has "permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy," it said on its blog.
The Internet payment site has apparently led the way for others, as credit card companies MasterCard and Visa reportedly plan to halt payments to Wikileaks.
Wikileaks.org was also dropped by its original domain hosting site, also a US company, but because of strong DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against the site that threatened to down other sites.
Assange himself faces jail time over sexual assault allegations in Sweden. The leader of Wikileaks surrendered to UK police on Tuesday and was denied bail after being deemed a flight risk.
The US is reportedly seeking ways to charge him over the release of classified documents.
Wikileaks on Wednesday vowed to press on. "We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship… The release of the US Embassy Cables – the biggest leak in history – will still continue," it said.
The whistle-blowing website has come under fire for publishing classified US documents, including videos and documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as sensitive cables sent between US embassies and the US State Department.
The Pentagon Papers were originally published in 47 volumes and collectively titled 'United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.' They first came to the US public via the New York Times, which was initially gagged by then-President Richard Nixon's administration, prompting Ellsberg to copy the papers and send them to other newspapers, including the Washington Post.
Later, Ellsberg turned himself in to authorities and was indicted by a grand jury on charges of theft and holding secret documents. The federal judge presiding over the case eventually declared a mistrial and dismissed all charges against him after government meddling was divulged, including a failed attempt by the Nixon administration to steal a file held by Ellsberg's psychiatrist, meant to be used to discredit Ellsberg.