Adrian Lamo Outed Self As Source in Bradley Manning Case

We have been working with both Adrian Lamo and sources supportive of Bradley Manning to deliver complete perspective on the strange and evolving case of Wikileaks and the arrest of U.S. Army specialist Bradley Manning, who leaked 260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables.

Last week we published a pair of pieces.  In the first we covered the leak of the chat logs to the media via the site BoingBoing.  In that post we wrote we did not yet know whether Wikileaks outed Adrian Lamo as a source (in violation of its own policies).  We now have evidence to believe that it did not.  Lamo participated in an interview with Australian compsec journalist Patrick Gray on his podcast site.

The interview can be found here [MP3].  In it, Gray states:

Adrian Lamo on the line there. Lamo also told me he submitted those chat logs between him and Manning to wikileaks and it’s their decision whether or not they want to publish them …

The key facts appear that the U.S. Military did not want Lamo to leak these documents, but he leaked them anyways so the the public could realize that he did not manipulate Manning.  And Wikileaks cannot be blamed for outing Lamo as a source, because he had already outed himself.  In effect this revelation somewhat invalidates Lamo’s call for Julian Assange to step down — though his leadership of the site has many other outstanding issues, which we discuss below.

This leak was followed by the release of a series of texts that have been leaked via Wikileaks and an ex-protege of Lamo’s who became bitter and disillusioned with his former mentor.  The posts appear a clear effort to undermine Lamo’s credibility, but have marginal relation to the Manning case.  The allegations — that Adrian Lamo used and abused prescription medications and possibly played a role in illegally leaking a hackers documentary (which Lamo vigorously denies) — ultimately have little to do with whether Manning broke the law and whether Lamo was justified in turning him in.

With both leaks Wikileaks appears to be the source.  And in both cases it appears to have followed its site policies in so much as it did not reveal its sources as some has alleged.  That said, it is unusual and somewhat questionable that the site appears to have leaked material to Pastebins or the media, rather than publishing on its homepage as it traditionally does.  Significant questions can be raised about why it adopted this approach.

Significant questions can also be raised about the management of the site.  We contacted Wikileaks director Julian Assange with a polite request for interview on a variety of topics.  We explained we wanted to offer him a chance to clarify any inaccuracies and share his viewpoint.  He responded with a personal threat to Global Tech News Senior News Editor Jason Mick.

He wrote:

The allegations are false. If you continue to print false material, there will be repercussions. Mr. Lamo is by no means a credible source. It is disturbing that you entertain him.

We have received a couple of other threats/demands from other individuals, so we contacted Julian Assange for clarification on exactly what this threat (what the “repercussions”) meant.  He offered no insight into that.  He did share with us in his two following replies his complete unwillingness to provide us with any information and conveyed his general anger with our coverage. 

Ironically, despite his claim:

I don’t have time to deal with CNN, and you want me to play 20
questions with a Lamo puppet from ‘daily tech’?

…he managed to reply to us 3 times in total.  While we appreciate his willingness to dialogue, we wish he would have spent his time answer our questions (for example, whether the Twitter and Facebook accounts were official — a long standing debate) rather than taking that time to send a threat and bursts of vehemence.

[Note:  We worked both internally and via a security source at MIT to verify that these emails were authentic.  They originated from a Wikileaks mail server and an editor account, so appear likely to be the real deal, for those who might have their doubts.]

Some of Manning’s supporters have done a much better job communicating with us, and we are thankful for that.  Ultimately Wikileaks is complaining about being misrepresented, but they refuse to share pertinent information and then their director goes as far as to threaten us, for what is essentially is the result of his own failure to communicate.

We aren’t the only ones to receive threats from some of Manning’s fringe supporters, though.  Lamo has received multiple death threats.  While he did not want to talk to us about all of them, due to legal and security issues, some have been posted here and are freely available.  In one, an angry commenter writes:

Adrian, it was interesting having you in the world. Sorry that things worked out this way. You have made it pretty clear that you are not to be leaned upon; it’s sad that someone so very desperate tried. He did not understand it, and now he’s locked up.

Others are less indirect.  One writes:

If god gives me the opportunity to bump into you one day, I’ll be presented with many different ways to taking your worthless life. The bright side for you is that you get to choose which way I take. Any suggestions?

The government is obviously affording Lamo protection as he is a key witness in the Manning case, when it does go to trial.  One can only hope that proves sufficient.  It’s a sad day when someone who is trying to defend the United States from harm receives death threats for his efforts.

That said, returning to the Wikileaks issue, numerous questions remain about the site.  Its chief, Julian Assange, obviously does a poor job communicating with the media only offering occasional interviews.  And there’s no concrete information on how money is being spent at the site.  Worse yet, an expose by Mother Jones earlier this year revealed that two supposed board members (Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, a former representative of the Dalai Lama, and Ben Laurie) had no relationship with the site, nor did one of its high profile supposed volunteers (Noam Chomsky).

At this point theres more questions than answers about Wikileaks.  There’s no guarantee of social or fiscal responsibility given the site’s policy of smoke and mirrors other than the word of Julian Assange.  All of these questions clearly point back to that figure — Assange — yet he’s not talking much.  While he has provided some general information on the site budget in one of his occasional interviews he has failed to provide sufficient detail.

And when it comes to Bradley Manning, he is innocent until proven guilty.  However, if there’s enough evidence to show that he leaked documents to Wikileaks, he clearly broke U.S. laws as they currently stand.  For all the Wikileaks and Adrian Lamo drama, that’s the take home message one must remember at the end of the day.

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