Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter at Wired:
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.
How did Manning get caught? He bragged about his exploits to a reformed ‘Net hacker named Adrian Lamo, who is famous for turning himself in to to authorities after he hacked into the New York Times in 2004. Lamo, who goes by the Twitter handle @6, contacted the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division when Manning boasted to him that he had leaked more than 250,000 highly classified diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. That, Lamo felt, could seriously endanger national security.
After Wired posted its story, Lamo began to receive inquiries over Twitter. He responded with a series of Tweets acknowledging he played the snitch.
“I outed Manning as an alleged leaker out of duty.I would never out an Ordinary Decent Criminal. There’s a difference,” he said in one. “I’m heartsick for Manning and his family. I hope they can forgive me some day for doing what I felt had to be done.”
Jullian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, responded with a furious barrage of Tweets a bit later in the evening. “If Brad Manning, 22, is the ‘Collateral Murder’ & Garani massacre whistleblower then, without a doubt, he’s a national hero.” He called Lamo and one of the journalists who wrote the story “notorious felons, informers and manipulators.” And allegations that “we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”
Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive:
I love the fact that what this loser did was repulsive enough to convince a former computer hacker to turn him in. The worst security breaches always com from inside the network and now we have this fool giving away tons of info to a collection of left wing hacks with an anti-American agenda. Well done dipshit, you are gonna love Leavenworth.
It’s really no surprise that the Army is interesting in arresting leakers, but it’s a reminder of what weak tea the notion that there can be no prosecutions of Bush administration officials because that would be “looking backwards” instead of forwards is. Investigatory agencies are always looking back, it’s just a question of what they look for. And under Barack Obama we’re basically looking at the things the permanent national security state wants looked into. An alternative investigation might focus not on who leaked classified video of a U.S. military operations, but on the question of why that sort of video should be classified. Certainly I can see why the Army might have preferred to keep it under wraps—in the eyes of many it reflected poorly on their conduct—but it hardly contained operational military secrets. In general, we expect things undertaken by America’s public servants in America’s name on America’s dime to be matters of public record. The security services have, however, largely managed to leverage the legitimate need for some level of operational secrecy into a fairly broad exemption of themselves from this basic principle.
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
As Confederate Yankee reported,
“In every instance cited above by Manning there are avenues to blow the whistle on corruption and illegality through channels that would bring wrongdoers to justice.”
But, instead Manning released the video to Wikileaks where they were doctored to smear our troops in Iraq.
What a loser.
Emptywheel at Firedoglake:
The military is likely to be most interested in learning how the encryption on the video(s) was broken–and whether Wikileaks allegedly got that from Manning or not. That, plus I would imagine they’re interested in breaking Wikileaks’ own code to prevent any further leaking. But if Manning’s telling stories about what he leaked to Wikileaks, it might mean he’s not the guy–or the only guy–who leaked this.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald
Adrian Chen at Gawker