So, remind me how the US, land of free speech is different to, say, China where the internet is censored as a matter of course.

Celebrating freedom of speech or guilty without trial? (image; WikiLeaks)

Via Salon’s Glen Greenwald we learn that the New York Times has catalogued another bit of heavyweight censorship — guilty without a trial — connected with WikiLeaks…

… another company has now capitulated to Lieberman’s demands: “a Seattle-based software company, Tableau, which provides a free Web platform for interactive graphics, removed charts uploaded by WikiLeaks in response to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s public statement that companies should stop helping the whistle-blowers.” Tableau issued a statement, which reads in part:

Wednesday afternoon, Tableau Software removed data visualizations published by WikiLeaks to Tableau Public. We understand this is a sensitive issue and want to assure the public and our users that this was not an easy decision, nor one that we took lightly. . . .

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

I just spoke with the creator of the “visualizations”: a British freelance journalist named James Ball. The only thing these “visualizations” are were charts summarizing the material released by WikiLeaks (for instance, the charts counted the documents which originated from each country, the number of documents by year, and the like). These charts contained no classified information whatsoever, and disclosed nothing about the content of the cables. It was the completely innocuous work of a freelance journalist to inform the public about the categories of documents released. Those charts were then linked to from the WikiLeaks site, but hosted separately by Tableau.

Those are the benign, purely legal documents that have now been removed from the Internet in response to Joe Lieberman’s demands and implied threats. He’s on some kind of warped mission where he’s literally running around single-handedly dictating what political content can and cannot be on the Internet, issuing broad-based threats to “all companies” that is causing suppression of political information.

I understand Tableau’s behavior here; imagine if you were a small company and Joe Lieberman basically announced: I am Homeland Security and you are to cease being involved with this organization which many say is a Terrorist group and Enemy Combatant. What Lieberman is doing is a severe abuse of power, and even for our anemic, power-revering media, it ought to be a major scandal (though it’s not because, as Digby says, all our media stars can process is that “Julian Assange is icky”).

“Julian Assange is icky” — well I guess that’s an improvement on the ‘hunt him down and execute him‘ brigade.