Two years ago last week, Pfc. Bradley Manning was taken into custody by the US Army in Iraq and sent to a military prison in Kuwait to face serious charges of leaking millions of documents (some sensitive) to WikiLeaks. He still has not come to trial, with his court martial now scheduled for August—though “scheduled” may be too strong a word. The most serious charge of “aiding the enemy” carries a possible death sentence, though the US has suggested it would ask for nothing more than life in prison.
Coverage of the Manning case may heat up this summer, so to mark the two-year anniversary of when he first came to the attention of the public, here is a look back at how the story unfolded in early June 2010. It’s taken from my new book and ebook with Kevin Gosztola, Truth and Consequeces. Near the close of the book, Gosztola covers the latest Manning hearings this past spring, including a lengthy account of Adrian Lamo’s rather uncomfortable appearance on the witness stand (Lamo and Manning pictured at left).
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On June 6, a little over two weeks after Wired’s profile of convicted hacker Adrian Lamo appeared, major news arrived out of nowhere. Wired’s popular Threat Level blog reported that “an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department cables to whistleblower site Wikileaks,” had been arrested by the military.
Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter wrote: “Specialist Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Md., was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait and has not been formally charged.” Manning was “turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online,” they related. “In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that WikiLeaks posted online in April….
“Manning came to the attention of the F.B.I. and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail.”
Wired quoted from some of the alleged chat logs. In one, Manning asked Lamo, “If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?” On security: “it was vulnerable as fuck.… no one suspected a thing.… kind of sad.… weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis… a perfect storm.” In any case the information “belongs in the public domain.… information should be free…. I want people to see the truth regardless of who they are because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”