Wired News (and Adrian Lamo) report alleged Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video leaker

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41 Responses to “Wired News (and Adrian Lamo) report alleged Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video leaker”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This guy did more to protect freedom than any drone or gunner in Afgh. A government hiding war crimes from the people it is supposed to protect and serve is the greater threat. He put himself on the line in a greater way.

  2. Bill Albertson says:

    My initial read of the article here seems to characterize Adrian Lamo as some kind of dodgy character who has no right to be called a journalist. I’m not sure if that is entirely a fair assessment.

    First off, he might have hacked MCI/Worldcom, but they were more than happy to receive his help in securing their network. There were holes that nobody considered as vulnerabilities prior to his coming along, and he was more than gentlemanly in dealing with their security staff. It was the NYT who took issue with his informing them of their security issues. I find it ironic that an institution that is in the business of exposing the weaknesses of others had to come down on him so hard- especially when he volunteered the data privately. There have been others in his position who were often larcenous and destructive, and I don’t think anybody I knew who dealt with him would characterize him as such.

    I can understand Lamo’s position. He has just narrowly avoided spending more time in jail for snooping networks than most people do for killing a man. Now some schmuck shows up online, and starts sending him classified data, bragging about how he got it. Look at it from Lamo’s point of view- if it is a sting, and he doesn’t turn this guy in, he goes to jail for (effectively) life. If it IS real, then he knows how the Federal system works, and he WILL go to jail for LIFE and longer. EVERY memo and communication leaked == 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. When talking Federal time, that means there is no probation or early release. That is a long time, and it was hundreds of communications. I don’t know of many people who have already faced the Federal penitentiary system who would care to tangle with it again on weak terms.

    Unlike Adrian, the Specialist who leaked this was a different kind of fool. Because of his security clearance, and all the briefings and training regarding maintaining such clearance, he knew what kind of shit storm could come down on his head by taking this data public the way he did. This guy could have just kept his mouth SHUT, and nobody would have known who he was. If this Specialist wanted to report war crimes, this guy could have gone to the JAG with a complaint, and been shielded. This guy could have sent the data to his Congressperson, or a sympathetic Congressperson, asking for a Congressional inquiry, and been shielded. If all else failed, he could have contacted prosecutors at the Hague as a Geneva convention signatory nation member, and either been shielded or have a reasonable expectation of safe political asylum. There are paths of redress for enlisted who find wrongdoing in the system, and believe it or not, they often work when they are used. Those methods also don’t usually incur the aforementioned decades in jail. I don’t know the Army Specialist’s backstory, but so far he appears to have done it for the thrill of it, and not out of any sense of ethics, or morality, or duty to his oath or his nation.

    I would guess, since the Specialist knows intimate details about operations which are the kind that nobody speaks of, and since he likes BRAGGING about those details, I wouldn’t expect anything less than this guy being locked up in Leavenworth for a LONG time. Like, until the data is considered stale, if he is lucky. If he is not so lucky, he could be spending the rest of his life in offshore stockades, or get the death penalty. Remember, the trial for this guy will not be in a regular Federal court- it will be a UCMJ trial, and the jury of his peers will be other Army staff in uniform, all of whom will need the necessary clearances to view the evidence. I don’t think they will give him much leniency, even if the defense is able to voire dire off the more gung ho types. They all signed the same agreements he did, and they all know how there is a right way and a wrong way of reporting wrongdoing on classified operations.

    In most UCMJ proceedings, where the defendant did something wrong for the right reasons, I’ve seen people walk away, either fully exonerated or with a slap on the wrist- but it had to be made crystal clear that the reasons were the right ones. IF what Adrian Lamo says is true, and can be backed up by system logs, etc, then this Specialist isn’t going to like the verdict.

  3. jihobbyist says:

    First, journalism isn’t a legitimate profession. Just because I write a column for a newspaper, it doesn’t mean I am journalist. I’m just a paid writer. I don’t understand why people are so conflicted with this distinction.

    Second, Manning is a fool, pure and simple. If it ain’t yours to share, just don’t share it.

    I can understand the fool leaves the military and write a memoir or something and share his political thought on why these wars are so fucked up. Oh well, to be young and stupid.

  4. failix says:

    Loads of ex-hackers in this story: Assange, Poulsen, Lamo…

    Anyway am I the only one who thinks the person who wrote the wikileaks twitter comments is being kind of a dick?

  5. justawriter says:

    In this episode of What Digby Says (tristero, actually)

    Now that the fellow who, allegedly, gave Wikileaks all those combat videos has been arrested, when will they get around to busting the people who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity to Novak?

    • orwellian says:

      That was Richard Armitage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plame_affair

      I don’t think the US has executed someone for treason since the Rosenbergs. Some of the Nazi saboteurs were American citizens before they went to Germany and one, a naturalized citizen, was executed. Under Obama’s Justice Department, the one that considered prosecuting lawyers for giving legal opinions on waterboarding, he’d do far better in the civil legal system rather than a military trial.

      There’s room to argue about release of the video but he also released 260,000 classified diplomatic cables. That’s a huge deal. No one thinks Hillary Clinton is running a criminal empire out of the State Department (God, I just defended Hillary *sob*) and there’s going to be information in those cables about sources and people we can rely upon in hell holes like North Korea or Iran. There’s a good chance people can die because of that information. He doesn’t get to make those decisions for a reason.

      • bersl2 says:

        “[blah blah blah] released 260,000 classified diplomatic cables. [blah blah blah]”

        *facepalm.jpg*

        https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/15612005016: “Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”

        As I said, WikiLeaks denies that part of the story.

        • holtt says:

          [blah blah etc]

          I think the point is he said he HAD the 260,000 classified diplomatic cables, and was bragging about it.

          It’s one thing to leak something to create light and justice. It’s another thing to leak stuff for the thrill of it. And the cables thing strikes me as a thrill thing, not a “shed light on injustice” thing.

  6. Xenu says:

    Bragging about your illegal exploits is NEVER a good idea. When will people learn?

  7. fivetonsflax says:

    > When will people learn?

    Well, Mr. Manning has now presumably learned, but the next 22-year-old will have to learn it himself too.

    I wonder what is Assange’s beef with Poulsen. Reporting on the arrest seems like a normal journalistic activity.

    • shava says:

      Part of it might have to do with the article Poulsen and Zetter published last week that falsely claimed that Wikileaks original million or so records were sniffed off the Tor network, based on a story from The New Yorker where Assange (and others) have said they got the story wrong.

      I mean, it takes a *lot* for /. to post a correction on a story, and they did. But funny thing, it doesn’t seem to have been good enough for Wired and The New Yorker (sister Conde Nast pubs).

      So yeah, Julian and Kevin have been going at it for a couple weeks now.

      I wonder if Kevin studied journalism while he was in prison too?

      • Ryan Singel says:

        Shava,

        You keep showing up on the net throwing slime at Kevin in some odd defense of Tor, which you used to be the exec director of and still volunteer for.

        Wikileaks has admitted it snooped on Tor.

        And Assange bragged about it early on — see the e-mails from their private list that Cryptome’s John Young published.

        “Hackers monitor chinese and other intel as they burrow into their targets, when they pull, so do we. Inxhaustible supply of material. Near 100,000 documents/emails a day.”

        http://cryptome.org/wikileaks/wikileaks-leak2.htm

        But now you are popping up all over the net, questioning Poulsen’s journalistic integrity.

        Is that because you have a beef with him over Threat Level’s fair but not fawning Tor coverage over the years, or do you have some stake in Wikileaks?

        Not sure what that is since they abandoned their Tor upload system without changing their “wiki” (try it — it just fails).

        As for Assange, he has a long history of complaining about fair coverage, but not being actually clear about what’s factually wrong.

        He tweeted triumphantly about the New Yorker story, then when outlets followed up on the Tor revelations, he backtracked and says it’s wrong but won’t explain actually what is wrong.

        And if you don’t think the New Yorker fact checked the hell out of that story, you don’t know crap about the New Yorker and its infamous editorial policy.

        Stop slinging slime at Poulsen, Shava, and disclose what your skin in this game is.

        Sincerely,

        Ryan Singel
        Wired.com staff writer

  8. Ultan says:

    Classification which conceals evidence of a crime is illegal, a crime in itself. Releasing evidence of crimes is a duty, failure to do so is misprison and makes one an accessory after the fact.

    • bersl2 says:

      Ultan:

      How many people have ever been prosecuted on those grounds? I’d be surprised if I can’t count the number with my fingers (in unary, not binary).

      • Ultan says:

        Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone who has been prosecuted for concealing classified evidence or acquitted or had charges dropped for revealing classified criminal evidence. There may be such cases, though.

        This reveals a problem with the move of criminal prosecution a few decades back into exclusively governmental hands, exacerbated by the doctrine of sovereign immunity being applied to even the ultra vires actions of employees and agents of a constitutional democratic republic.

        Despite this, and the assertion of a new “state secrets” privilege, it is still definitely illegal to classify evidence of crimes.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s illegal to classify something for the purpose of concealing a crime, but if something is already classified then it remains classified regardless (and charges can still be brought.) Cockpit tapes in combat are automatically classified.

      I have seen the video, and I have some experience in military aviation, and it was not clear to me that there was a crime committed (presence of armed men along with the photographer, etc.) The rules of engagement may seem unpleasant to someone not involved in fighting, but they are pretty clear and in this case I think they were followed.

      Having said that, I think it’s extremely unlikely that this soldier will be charged, let alone convicted, of treason.

      • grimc says:

        “I have seen the video, and I have some experience in military aviation, and it was not clear to me that there was a crime committed (presence of armed men along with the photographer, etc.) The rules of engagement may seem unpleasant to someone not involved in fighting, but they are pretty clear and in this case I think they were followed.”

        At the same time, the accused is an Army intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq who probably has a pretty good idea of the rules of engagement and has seen much more gun camera footage than this one incident (or the two or three others he’s alleged to have leaked), and felt this one (and possibility one or two others) in particular needed to be seen by the public.

  9. Anonymous says:

    on the one hand it was really stupid of him to brag about it, but hey your young and someone has to know how awesome you are right?

    on the other hand, i think that the information he was leaking had very important world ramifications. people know that america isnt exactly the nicest boy in the yard, but proof is always welcome and should be a wakeup call to the citizens of america – look what YOUR goverment is doing in YOUR name – etc etc.

    overall i feel saddened that he is going to jail, i would of hoped that he could uncover more issues that need to see the light of day.

    are muslim extremists bad? yes but so are the extreme militants of the US army

  10. headphonegirl says:

    Why can’t spies and hackers keep this stuff to themselves- how tasteless

  11. TEKNA2007 says:

    That As It Happens link was pretty good, thanks tkw945.

    Manning, you stupid noob.

  12. Wuss Brillis says:

    I miss the news tag terribly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is a true American Hero!

  14. Factran says:

    Sorry for the conspiration hypothesis, but US army had the goal to break the trust that was around Wikileaks. Maybe this guy is not the one who gave the info to Wikileaks ? And that could be sufficient to deter other people to give info to Wikileaks.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I’m confused – I could understand being upset with Poulsen and Zetter if they had released Manning’s name prior to his arrest. Or if they had reported him to the military themselves.

    But why is wikileaks upset with them for, as far as I can tell, doing their jobs – you know, as journalists?

    Shouldn’t all the blame be going on Lamo, who, if he genuinely considers himself to be a journalist, has clearly violated journalistic ethics by becoming a military informant?

    I mean, in either case, bragging about your exploits is universally stupid, but what’s with wikileaks’ mad-on for Poulsen? Or am I missing something?

    • bersl2 says:

      I do seem to remember some being reported by Wired that the kid leaked hundreds of thousands of diplomatic wire messages to WikiLeaks, which WikiLeaks flatly denied. So whether the denial is true or false, I can understand why they’d be pissed at Wired.

    • Ultan says:

      “Shouldn’t all the blame be going on Lamo, who, if he genuinely considers himself to be a journalist, has clearly violated journalistic ethics by becoming a military informant?”

      Given his past run-ins with the system, Lamo may have had a reasonable fear that he was being set up by a provocateur. It isn’t entirely clear yet that such a belief was wrong. Even if Manning’s alleged account of himself is truthful, it seems very likely that the way he was behaving would soon get himself caught, and that there would be records of his conversations with Lamo which would from Lamo’s point of view inevitably end with Lamo going to prison unless he immediately turned snitch.

  16. johnphantom says:

    I applaud SPC Bradley Manning, and his humongous balls.

    I wish him the best.

  17. Anonymous says:

    IANAL either but a treason charge is extremely unlikely. They would have to prove not only intent to support the enemy, which whistleblowing does not qualify as, but they would need to prove material support, which this video does not qualify as. He will probably be charged with disclosing classified information under 18 USC 793 which carries a maximum of ten years.

  18. Ugly Canuck says:

    Ya leaks it, ya owns it.

  19. purefog says:

    So, I got an e-mail from Julian Assange earlier today under the heading “WikiLeaks source [I guess that answers that, despite the "allegeds" that pepper the e-mail itself] arrested” which, in its entirety, reads as follows:

    “I have been informed today that the U.S. military has arrested
    intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, 22, and shipped him from
    Baghdad to Kuwait, where he has been detained without trial for the
    past two weeks. The military alleged that Mr. Manning was the source
    behind the “collateral murder” video released on WikiLeaks showing
    an Apache slaying two Rueters photographers and over a dozen other
    persons in Iraq.

    Manning is also alleged to be the source behind a similar classified
    massacre video, yet to be released by WikiLeaks showing the bombing
    of 97-160 people, mostly children, in Afghanistan at Garani.

    I am seeking assistance for Mr. Manning. If you are able to meaningfully
    and reliably assist us in securing Mr. Manning’s liberty, please contact me.

    Julian Assange
    Editor
    WikiLeaks”

    His email address is julian@wikileaks.org.

  20. TEKNA2007 says:

    “The frontal lobe, the one right before behind our forehead, that causes us to make good decisions, and causes us to be able to say supress or at least put the clutch in from taking some kind of risk that we ought not to take? That is not yet hooked up. It’s almost like there’s extension cords laying around here and they haven’t been plugged into the outlet yet of your frontal lobe. [...] That circuitry in teen boys will be re-hooked up into the frontal lobe to good judgment somewhere around 22 to 25 years old …”

    – Dr. Louann Brizendine

  21. Aurvondel says:

    Ultan:

    The Rosenburgs were neither charged with nor convicted of treason. They were tried under the Espionage Act of 1917. As far as I know, no conviction for federal treason by a civilian court has ever carried the death penalty in the US (the caveats are “federal” because John Brown was executed for treason against the state of Virginia, and during the civil war in Louisiana, a military court convicted a civilian of treason for tearing down the union flag).

    • Ultan says:

      “Ultan:

      The Rosenburgs were neither charged with nor convicted of treason. ”

      I never mentioned treason – that was Anon #14 and #19 – but you make good points in response to theirs.

  22. Ernunnos says:

    I suspect that if you made a Venn diagram of “people willing to leak” and “people who can keep their mouths shut” the intersection would be very, very small.

  23. Ryan Singel says:

    Shava -

    I can’t believe you hold a grudge for so long.

    Not to mention, you are factually wrong about the New Yorker piece.

    They wrote:

    “Before launching the site, Assange needed to show potential contributors that it was viable. One of the WikiLeaks activists owned a server that was being used as a node for the Tor network. Millions of secret transmissions passed through it. The activist noticed that hackers from China were using the network to gather foreign governments’ information, and began to record this traffic. Only a small fraction has ever been posted on WikiLeaks, but the initial tranche served as the site’s foundation, and Assange was able to say, “We have received over one million documents from thirteen countries.””

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/06/07/100607fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all

    How does that fit with your assertion that “The article in the New Yorker says that Wikileaks was founded on millions of documents *published* from Tor sniffing.”

    You claimed that Wired needed to run a retraction for saying Wikileaks sniffed Tor and got lots of documents.

    Then you add:

    “This scares the hell out of a lot of folks who might need to use Tor for anonymity/privacy or circumvention, because it gives the impression that all those documents were filtered through, published, and exposed to a broad audience.”

    If that’s what worries you about Tor and Wikileaks, perhaps you ought to talk with Jake Appelbaum, who you know as a Tor employee and a prominent Wikileaks volunteer.

    Sincerely,

    Ryan Singel

  24. softmasterg says:

    The first question that should be asked when trying to wrap ones head around this story is this:

    How does Adrian Lamo know Bradley Manning? How do they just happen to be chatting with one another?

    Other questions that should be asked:

    If Adrian Lamo working for the government overtly or covertly? Was he used to target Bradley Manning?

    Why use a limited space CDRW when you can use an 8gig micro SD card?

    Would the wikileaks video even fit on a CDRW?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Uhh… I thought Adrian Lamo added his name to a list of journalists via the New York Times… Not that he “actually” advertised himself as one… (o_O)???

    • Anonymous says:

      he did and he’s friends with K. Poulson apparently.
      so if he posed as a journalist then it means he betrayed his source for an exclusive setup for WIRED.

      read wikileak’s twitter.

      http://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/15634297615

      “Did Wired break journalism’s sacred oath? Lamo&Poulson call themselves journalists.Echoes of Olshansky shopping Diaz?”

  26. shava says:

    Ryan Singel responds to me:

    Wikileaks has admitted it snooped on Tor.

    And Assange bragged about it early on — see the e-mails from their private list that Cryptome’s John Young published.

    “Hackers monitor chinese and other intel as they burrow into their targets, when they pull, so do we. Inxhaustible supply of material. Near 100,000 documents/emails a day.”

    http://cryptome.org/wikileaks/wikileaks-leak2.htm

    .

    Parsing that in English, it says that Assange had, available to him through his network, 100,000s of sniffed documents per day. These are probably through a variety of methods, including darknets, Tor sniffing, and so on.

    The article in the New Yorker says that Wikileaks was founded on millions of documents *published* from Tor sniffing.

    This scares the hell out of a lot of folks who might need to use Tor for anonymity/privacy or circumvention, because it gives the impression that all those documents were filtered through, published, and exposed to a broad audience.

    You and I know that was not the case. Julian’s said that perhaps zero to a few documents on Wikileaks came from that datastore, having to do with a crackdown on Tibetan activists.

    Most of those documents were probably trash that no one cared about, or certainly cared to take action about. For whatever I may think of Wikileaks (and I’ve expressed personal doubts) they do try to publish materials for activists around issues.

    There are people whose lives and livelihoods depend on Tor to provide them circumvention/anonymity. A lot of them are journalists in danger zones. But a lot of them are not tech press — when the journalists in Bangkok had military police knocking on their doors noting politely that they’d seen articles about the coup filed from them over the state-owned telecoms, Tor got a volunteer to gather the international new corps together to learn to use Tor so they would not be ‘chilled’ by midnight knocks on the door.

    I support courageous journalism. It’s why I got into working with Tor.

    The point here is that I had significant correspondence (personally, I’m no longer Tor staff and haven’t been for years), encouraging Kim/Kevin to qualify that the records sniffed were not published, and to link to information on how to use Tor safely.

    The information published is wrong in my mind, distorted to anyone who knows the origins and facts (and probably initially innocently distorted at TNY).

    But now you are popping up all over the net, questioning Poulsen’s journalistic integrity.

    Is that because you have a beef with him over Threat Level’s fair but not fawning Tor coverage over the years, or do you have some stake in Wikileaks?

    I have no interest in Wikileaks, and haven’t participated in the project — the closest I have come is that I watched the “Collateral Murder” video on some news site.

    I believe that Wikileaks subverts some of the more complicated but desirable channels supporting investigative journalism, and I wonder how the cost/benefit will balance out.

    They are not my horse in this race.

    As for “fair but not fawning,” my first impression of Kevin Poulsen was this Wired article from 2007, when I *was* Tor’s executive director:
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/07/cyber-jihadists/

    This is not “fair,” and fawning doesn’t come into it. I would have rather Kevin had corrected the story, but instead, he seemingly reluctantly (at least snarkily) posted my correction after his article.

    Now, I have followed your stories, and we’ve corresponded in email. I haven’t had any major issues with your reporting, even though I’m a bit of a pitbull in defending Tor. (and, I’ll note, that I haven’t been shy on taking the press to task on other issues I have no personal stake in but interest in, when I know enough on a topic to vet it)

    But the “Jihadists” article was my first impression and colored all my future interactions with Kevin. Is this a news story? Is it even editorial? Is it hacker humor?

    I can deconstruct every news story Kevin (and to a lesser extent, Kim) has published on Tor for the last few years, and point out flaws that seem to indicate agenda or at least bias.

    In this current case, they used one line in an article on Wikileaks, and turned it into a vehicle for harm with old stories and distortion of current affairs, focused not on Wikileaks but on Tor.

    It could have (as I pointed out to Kim in email before I started smacking them about the story) been used as a teachable moment, but that isn’t on the agenda. It was not news, it was scare tactics — to me that’s the opposite of teaching.

    Scare tactic journalism (and the politics it feeds) is unfortunately what makes good ratings — and bad public citizens as an exposure by-product. None of us needs more of that.

    The first axiom of good journalism is to inform the public, not entertain them or make them “sticky” through addressing their adrenals. It’s possible to do both, and that’s the minimum I ask for.

  27. tkw954 says:

    Lamo was interviewed on the CBC radio show “As It Happens” this evening and claims that he didn’t inform because of the wikileaks video, it was because Manning had shared other information with him that would destabilize the American government and economy. This information was such that the spooks he informed went white in the face when he mentioned certain code names and that they wouldn’t even speak the code name, instead writing it on a piece of paper.

    Lamo claims that they had not spoken about criminal charges against Manning and he now regrets his promise to testify against Manning but will do so nonetheless.

    http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/latestshow.html

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