Update: A response from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen has been included at the end of this report.
Internet communications between the U.S. Army private who is accused of leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks and the ex-hacker who turned him in have finally been released in full.
The comlete conversations between Pfc. Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo, who eventually turned them over to the FBI, provide new details and give additional context to the two men’s motivations.
Over a year ago, Wired editor Kevin Poulsen said that the magazine was withholding 75 percent of the chat logs because they “discuss deeply personal information about Manning or that reveal apparently sensitive military information.”
The magazine changed its mind Wednesday, saying that recent news reports had “eroded our primary reasons for withholding the bulk of the chat logs.”
Poulsen’s earlier refusal to provide the logs in full had resulted in a bitter dispute with Manning defenders, most notably Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.
“As it turns out, while some of what Wired withheld was certainly personal information about Manning of no newsworthy relevance (and nobody, including me, ever objected to that material being withheld), substantial portions of what they withheld do not even arguably fall within those categories, but instead provide vital context and information about what actually happened here,” Greenwald wrote.
“To say that Poulsen’s claims about what Wired withheld were factually false is to put it generously.”
One such revelation is that Lamo, often referred to as a “snitch” by fellow hackers, promised Manning that his disclosures would never be published.
“I’m a journalist and a minister,” Lamo told Manning. “You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.”
In fact, Lamo told Yahoo News last year that he had told Manning that “he wasn’t affiliated with WikiLeaks or acting as a journalist.”
The full logs also indicate that Lamo may have lied to other publications. For example, there is nothing to prove that Manning “did an actual physical drop-off [to WikiLeaks] when he was back in the United States in January of [last] year,” as Lamo claimed to The New York Times.
“In sum, the full chat logs — in particular the parts Wired concealed for over a year — prove that Adrian Lamo is a serial liar whose claims are inherently unreliable,” Greenwald concluded.
Wired‘s original release also didn’t reveal that Manning claimed to have contacts high up in President Barack Obama’s administration.
“i have sources in the White House re: DADT and the disaster that keeps going on with that… Shin Inouye,” the Army private wrote. “also, some Joint Staff people… a (bisexual) LTC at the Pentagon.”
In another section, Manning said that he wasn’t worried about being tracked by the National Security Administration (NSA).
“i know that approximately 85-90% of global transmissions are sifted through by NSA… but vast majority is noise… so its getting harder and harder for them to track anything down,” he told Lamo. “im not all that paranoid about NSA / SIGINT services… you just have to be OPSEC savvy, and you’re all good.”
In the end, it would be those conversations with Lamo, not the NSA, that were Manning’s undoing.
Manning is currently being held in the Ft. Leavenworth military prison while awaiting trial.
Wired had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Update (7:30 p.m ET): In an email, Wired editor Kevin Poulsen explained the publication’s decision to originally withhold a large portion of the chat logs.
“It was still very much a developing story, and given the sensitivity of much of the material in the chats, we decided on a conservative approach,” he told Raw Story. “We went into the logs and tried to identify longish sections that dealt with Manning’s leaking and did not touch on his personal issues.”
Poulsen continued: “We never claimed that every word of the remainder of the chat log was sensitive — to the contrary, in the mainbar of the story we quoted from sections of the chat logs that were not in the excerpts. But our reason for not merely publishing the whole log was indeed our concern for Manning’s privacy, and, at the time, concern that some of Manning’s conversation was apparently sensitive military information.”
“That Mr. Greenwald believes we would in any way take into account Adrian Lamo’s public image suggests that he still lacks a basic understanding of the goals and values of serious journalism.”
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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