Back in April, Wikileaks published a classified video which purported to show U.S. Soldiers killing “innocent” Iraqis:
Wikileaks forgot to mention (or show) that the Army unit was engaged in combat at the time, and taking fire from an armed enemy. One was carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Another was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. Incidentally, two of those individuals killed were Reuters photographers who were embedded with the terrorists. Aw….Too fucking bad.
Come to find out, the video was leaked by a self-appointed “whistleblower”.
Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.
SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, 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. 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. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”
“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.
Wired.com could not confirm whether Wikileaks received the supposed 260,000 classified embassy dispatches. To date, a single classified diplomatic cable has appeared on the site: Released last February, it describes a U.S. embassy meeting with the government of Iceland. E-mail and a voicemail message left for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Sunday were not answered by the time this article was published.
The State Department said it was not aware of the arrest or the allegedly leaked cables. The FBI was not prepared to comment when asked about Manning.
Army spokesman Gary Tallman was unaware of the investigation but said, “If you have a security clearance and wittingly or unwittingly provide classified info to anyone who doesn’t have security clearance or a need to know, you have violated security regulations and potentially the law.”
Manning’s arrest comes as Wikileaks has ratcheted up pressure against various governments over the years with embarrassing documents acquired through a global whistleblower network that is seemingly impervious to threats from adversaries. Its operations are hosted on servers in several countries, and it uses high-level encryption for its document-submission process, providing secure anonymity for its sources and a safe haven from legal repercussions for itself. Since its launch in 2006, it has never outed a source through its own actions, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
Manning came to the attention of the FBI and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail. Lamo had just been the subject of a Wired.com article. Very quickly in his exchange with the ex-hacker, Manning claimed to be the Wikileaks video leaker.
“If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?” Manning asked.
Well, let’s see, Manning. I was an Intelligence Analyst for most of my Army career. I had access to various levels of classified information from world-wide networks for up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months on end, and I never got the urge to commit treason.
Apparently, Manning has been a problem child:
From the chat logs provided by Lamo, and examined by Wired.com, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. He discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.
It took him awhile, but Lamo got a sudden case of conscience:
When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army CID investigators and the FBI at a Starbucks near his house in Carmichael, California, where he passed the agents a copy of the chat logs. At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, FBI agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army CID investigators.
Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the past, and says he agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he has never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.
“I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger,” says Lamo, who discussed the details with Wired.com following Manning’s arrest. “He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air.”
Gee, I wonder how many documents Lamo went through before he finally decided “lives were in danger”.
Manning told Lamo that he enlisted in the Army in 2007 and held a Top Secret/SCI clearance, details confirmed by his friends and family members. He claimed to have been rummaging through classified military and government networks for more than a year and said that the networks contained “incredible things, awful things … that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC.”
Specialist Decider thought he should be the one to pick and choose which classified information ‘belongs in public’. How nice.
……Manning passed the video to Wikileaks in February, he told Lamo. After April 5 when the video was released and made headlines Manning contacted Watkins from Iraq asking him about the reaction in the United States.
“He would message me, Are people talking about it?… Are the media saying anything?” Watkins said. “That was one of his major concerns, that once he had done this, was it really going to make a difference?… He didn’t want to do this just to cause a stir…. He wanted people held accountable and wanted to see this didn’t happen again.”
To see that what didn’t happen again? Civilians dying in war? Welcome to the real world, Ernie Pyle.
It must be nice to have the luxury to discern who is and who is not a potential threat when you’re not the one in a firefight. That little jerk should have spent some time in a ground assault convoy or on patrol; anywhere outside the wire. Those missions tend to put a Soldier just a bit on edge and less judgmental toward those who have to lock and load in case the shit hits the fan.
Manning also bragged about his taking advantage of “lax security” (READ: Trusting the wrong people with national security), and transfering classified data to a CD-RW labeled “Lady Gaga” while he lip-synced one of her songs.
Manning fancies himself as a Beauchamp-fabulist clone:
That seemed to be the least interesting information to Manning, however. What seemed to excite him most in his chats was his supposed leaking of the embassy cables. He anticipated returning to the states after his early discharge, and watching from the sidelines as his action bared the secret history of U.S. diplomacy around the world.
“Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,” Manning wrote. “It’s open diplomacy. World-wide anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”
The head honcho at Wikileaks thinks Manning is some kind of a hero:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange tweeted early Monday that ‘If Brad Manning, 22, is the ‘Collateral Murder’ & Garani massacre whistleblower then, without doubt, he’s a national hero.’ He also referred to Lamo and Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen, who broke the story, as ‘notorious felons, informers and manipulators.’
Manning is no principled “whistleblower”; he’s an egotistical attention whore, who took it upon himself to selectively divulge information—including about 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables—that can and certainly will benefit our enemies.
This cockholster violated his security clearance, his oath of service, and the trust placed in him by his country and the United States Army. In a perfect world, he’d be taken out and shot.