Behind the Arrest of Alleged Wikileaks Source

Understanding the 22-year-old intelligence analyst and the hacker who turned him in

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Federal officials have arrested Specialist Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking secret military documents, including the much-discussed video of U.S. helicopters killing several civilians in Iraq, to the website Wikileaks. Manning, a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst, had bragged on the Internet to the noted ex-hacker Adrian Lamo that he was responsible for the leaks. Lamo reported Manning to the FBI, turning over their chat transcripts, in which Manning also claimed to have leaked 260,000 secret diplomatic cables.

  • Why He Leaked the Files  Wired's Kevin Poulson and Kim Zetter write, "From the chat logs provided by Lamo, and examined by, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. He discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army. ... [Manning] claimed to have been rummaging through classified military and government networks for more than a year and said that the networks contained 'incredible things, awful things … that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC.'"
  • Lamo: Why I Outed Him  Adrian Lamo explains himself: "I outed Brad Manning as an alleged leaker out of duty. I would never (and have never) out an Ordinary Decent Criminal. There's a difference. Hackers confide in me all the time. I'd go to prison before I'd betray their trust. I didn't get Manning arrested. He got himself arrested. I'm heartsick for Manning and his family. I hope they can forgive me some day for doing what I felt had to be done. I know what it's like to be 22, scared, and in shackles too. I've been there. I hope none of you ever have to make a choice like this."
  • Wikileaks Urges Skepticism of Story  Wikileaks announced on Twitter, "We never collect personal information on our sources, so we are are unable as yet to confirm the Manning story. Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect. Adrian Lamo & Kevin Poulsen are notorious felons, informers & manipulators. Journalists should take care." Poulsen, who co-wrote the story for Wired, is a notorious ex-hacker.
  • The Fault is Manning's, Not Wikileaks'  Mother Jones' Dave Gilson writes, "That Manning was apparently sunk by his own loose lips gives added weight to Assange's assertion that WikiLeaks' procedure for anonymous leaking has never led to the outing of any of its sources. As he told MoJo about two Kenyan human rights activists with links to a WikiLeaks leak who were later gunned down, their mistake was that they 'weren't acting in an anonymous way.' Manning, it would seem, wasn't either."
  • What Military Will Investigate--If Story Is Even True  Marcy Wheeler writes, "The military is likely to be most interested in learning how the encryption on the video(s) was broken–and whether Wikileaks allegedly got that from Manning or not. That, plus I would imagine they’re interested in breaking Wikileaks’ own code to prevent any further leaking. But if Manning’s telling stories about what he leaked to Wikileaks, it might mean he’s not the guy–or the only guy–who leaked this."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.