Manning chat logs contain no smoking gun, Wired editors claim

By David Edwards
Thursday, December 30, 2010 10:17 EDT
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Yet, chat logs still under wraps…

Editors with Wired Magazine have finally come forward to say that the chat logs in their possession contain no further evidence of a conspiracy between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the soldier accused of leaking 250,000 US State Department cables.

In his Monday column, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald suggested that Wired Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen committed “one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year” by withholding the majority of chat logs that could prove Assange did or did not conspire with Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Poulsen published in June what he said was about 25 percent of the conversations between Manning and ex-hacker Adrian Lamo. It was Lamo that eventually turned in Manning to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Lamo claimed to The New York Times 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.

Poulsen and Wired Editor-in-Chief Evan Hansen responded with a personal attack on Greenwald Tuesday, but did not release the remaining chat logs.

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

But Greenwald’s criticism may have produced the desired effect by Wednesday afternoon, when Poulsen and Hansen confirmed on Twitter that the unpublished logs contain no further evidence of contact between Assange and Manning.

“I just reviewed the full text and all descriptions of Manning’s relationship w/ Assange and Wikileaks are already public,” Hansen tweeted to Greenwald.

Sean Bonner, correspondent at pop-news blog Boing Boing, asked Poulsen directly if the unreleased logs contained any information about the dedicated server Assange allegedly provided Manning.

“Make the answer simpler. People are clearly confused/mislead or whatever – you can end all that in the space of a tweet,” Bonner tweeted to Poulson.

“The published logs include the reference to a secure [file transfer protocol] FTP server Lamo discussed with the Times. (Better?)” Poulsen replied.

“Definitely better, but are you confirming that is the *only* reference to them in the logs? I think that is the question,” Bonner pressed.

“Yes. Had there been more on the FTP server, we’d have reported it with interest,” Hansen answered.

“Poulsen’s comment appears to suggest Lamo’s claims cannot be sourced to the remaining chat logs, only to the published sections or other communications,” Bonner wrote. “Along with Hansen’s tweet, that leaves no new smoking guns in the unpublished portion or the logs, and little to suggest the degree of collaboration between Pvt. Manning and Wikileaks that prosecutors may need to pursue charges.”

“What could have been a smoking gun now looks more like an empty water pistol,” he added.

Manning has been held in solitary confinement at the military brig in Quantico, Virgina for the past six months. He is expected to face a court-martial in the spring of 2011.

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.

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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