After several weeks of intense attention, Pvt. Bradley Manning began to slip off the media’s radar screens again last month with his transfer from the maximum security brig at Quantico to a medium-custody military prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, while he awaits trial. That is about to change again, as the first anniversary of his alleged online “chatting” with convicted hacker Adrian Lamo — it led to his arrest on multiple charges of leaking classified information — arrives on Friday. Next Tuesday, PBS Frontline plans a full program on Manning, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and they promise to air new information.
I’ll be previewing the Frontline show later this week, and in other articles analyzing the Lamo logs and other aspects of the case, but for now let’s turn to the now infamous “chats” –and the arrest that followed. Much of this is drawn from my current book and e-book, Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences. (Update: Here’s Part III in this series.)
On June 6, a little over two weeks after Wired’s Lamo profile 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 (photo above) , “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.”