‘Disgrace’: Wired editor criticized for withholding Bradley Manning chat logs

By David Edwards
Monday, December 27, 2010 13:14 EDT
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Update (12/29/2010): Wired responds to Greenwald’s criticism but still refuses to release the chat logs.

Almost two days after Salon’s Glenn Greenwald called for Wired Magazine to release the full chat logs between Pfc. Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo, the magazine responded with an attack on Greenwald.

“Greenwald’s piece is a breathtaking mix of sophistry, hypocrisy and journalistic laziness,” Wired Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen charged.

“Our position has been and remains that the logs include sensitive personal information with no bearing on Wikileaks, and it would serve no purpose to publish them at this time,” Wired Editor-in-Chief Evan Hansen wrote.

The next morning, Greenwald offered a response. “[J]ournalists need scrutiny and accountability as much as anyone — especially when, as here, they are shaping public perceptions about a vital story while withholding important information — and I’d vastly prefer to be the one to provide it even it means that the targets of the criticism don’t like it and lash out,” he wrote.

Foreign Policy Magazine’s Evgeny Morozov seemed to agree with Greenwald.

“I can’t see how Wired would be able to justify not releasing specific portions of the chat referenced by Greenwald,” he tweeted.

Original report continues below…

By his own admission, Wired Magazine Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen is withholding a large majority of chat logs that could prove WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did or did not conspire with the US soldier accused of leaking a cache of diplomatic cables.

In his Monday column, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald called Poulsen’s actions “one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year.”

In June, Poulsen published what he said was about 25 percent of the conversations between Pfc. Bradley Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo.

According to Lamo, Manning confided in him after providing WikiLeaks with more than 260,000 State Department cables. It was Lamo that eventually turned in Manning to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In an interview with The New York Times, Lamo claimed that Manning told him Assange had personally provided him with a dedicated server for uploading the documents. But those claims are not backed up by the portions of the chat logs published by Wired.

“Whether Manning actually said these things to Lamo could be verified in one minute by ‘journalist’ Kevin Poulsen,” Greenwald noted. “He could either say: (1) yes, the chats contain such statements by Manning, and here are the portions where he said these things, or (2) no, the chats contain no such statements by Manning, which means Lamo is either lying or suffers from a very impaired recollection about what Manning said.”

“Any true ‘journalist’ — or any person minimally interested in revealing the truth — would do exactly that in response to Lamo’s claims as published by The New York Times,” he wrote.

To complicate matters, Lamo admitted in a July interview with the Times that he had no direct evidence that anyone from WikiLeaks had assisted him.

“Asked if Private Manning had ever told him of any WikiLeaks assistance, Mr. Lamo replied, ‘Not explicitly, no,’ the Times‘s Elisabeth Bumiller wrote.

“There is one person who could immediately confirm whether Lamo’s claims are true: Kevin Poulsen of Wired,” Greenwald observed. “Yet he steadfastly refuses to do so. Instead, he is actively concealing the key evidence in this matter — hiding the truth from the public — even as that magazine continues to employ him as a Senior Editor and hold him out as a ‘journalist.’”

“For anyone who cares at all about what actually happened here, it’s imperative that as much pressure as possible be applied to Wired to release those chat logs or, at the very least, to release the portions about which Lamo is making public claims or, in the alternative, confirm that they do not exist,” he wrote.

The US Department of Justice has said it was investigating whether it could charge Assange with espionage or conspiracy, but no formal charges have yet been issued.

Liberal blog Firedoglake has published a merged version of the available chat logs.

Poulsen had not responded to a request for comment at time of this story’s publication. Wired‘s Evan Hansen tweeted Monday that Poulsen was on vacation and would respond Tuesday to Greenwald’s criticism.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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