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"If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?"
June 7, 2010 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Wired reports a US Intelligence Analyst has been arrested in connection with the "Collateral Murder" video released by Wikileaks. According to the article, SPC Bradley Manning was turned in by former hacker Adrian Lamo based on concerns about Manning's threat to leak an additional 260,000 classified embassy cables.
posted by uaudio (80 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
But I'm sure the Pentagon will devote much more time and resources to ensuring that its forces are properly trained and exercise extreme caution when using deadly force in highly populated civilian areas than it will to plugging leaks of material that shows they are in need of said training, right?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:46 AM on June 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


Adrian Lamo, class-b hacker and class-a snitch.
posted by Jairus at 7:46 AM on June 7, 2010 [17 favorites]


What kind of dumbass brags about leaking, especially if they hope to continue?
posted by nevercalm at 7:48 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


uh-oh: "World-wide anarchy in CSV format."
posted by chavenet at 7:49 AM on June 7, 2010


"We never collect personal information on our sources, so we are are unable as yet to confirm the Manning story." From Wikileaks twitter feed.

(Also, just looking at the twitter feed now, they're claiming that the Washington Post actually had the video that Wikileaks released a while ago for over a year, but sat on it. Of course, we don't know if that's true, or what)
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on June 7, 2010


Anyway, it sounds like this guy was kind of a dumbass. I doubt he's the real source. If you're going to leak a bunch of classified stuff don't brag about it on the internet. Seems rather obvious.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on June 7, 2010


Damn.

Julian Assange seems pretty switched on from what I have read and well aware of the consequences that entail from a beast like wikileaks. I can't help but feel however that he owed Manning some strong words about the reality of what he was doing as he comes across as a chronically naive individual. Who knows - perhaps Assange offered some words of wisdom but for the kid to start bragging.....it was never going to end well.
posted by numberstation at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2010


Anyway, it sounds like this guy was kind of a dumbass. I doubt he's the real source. If you're going to leak a bunch of classified stuff don't brag about it on the internet. Seems rather obvious.

It's how almost all high-profile hackers get caught.
posted by Jairus at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


'We never collect personal information on our sources'

Noted and I recind my suggestion.

'Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.'

More's the pity

'If Brad Manning,22,is the "Collateral Murder" & Garani massacre whistleblower then, without doubt, he's a national hero.'

Arguably yes.

'Statement: Washington Post had Collateral murder video for over a year but DID NOT RELEASE IT it to the public.'

If this is true then there should be serious outrage. Presumably Wikileaks will have no problem backing up this claim.

Going to be interesting to follow the fallout from this and who knows, though no doubt the authorities will be happy to have found the source - if the story is in fact true - they will not rest easy on the basis that it was through the source failing spectactularly to keep a lid on what he was doing. Perhaps though the story will inspire others. Time will tell.
posted by numberstation at 8:07 AM on June 7, 2010


I think Assange and Manning had a pretty good cover story going with the video; stories came out a few months before the leak that the drones transmitted unencrypted video. Leaking those classified cables would invite a much larger and unrelenting investigation.
posted by uaudio at 8:09 AM on June 7, 2010


The Hacker News discussion (not that kind of hacker) has some interesting comments, including one by (apparently) a former employer.
posted by Skorgu at 8:13 AM on June 7, 2010


Between this and making it illegal to film police, I feel safer and safer already. If the citizens don't know how the government works, I'm sure terrorist groups based on secrecy, fear and unregulated use of violence will have no clue either!
posted by yeloson at 8:14 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I mean, thats fine if they don't want to corroborate whether it was him, but it seems weird that they wouldn't collect any identifying information. Wouldn't they need to collect a lot of this information to verify the claims? I guess in some ways the documents speaks for themselves, but still...
posted by rosswald at 8:15 AM on June 7, 2010


.
posted by Ryvar at 8:30 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Neither WikiLeaks nor its founder, Julian Assange, has responded to the news yet. That Manning was apparently sunk by his own loose lips gives added weight to Assange's assertion that WikiLeaks' procedure for anonymous leaking has never led to the outing of any of its sources. As he told MoJo about two Kenyan human rights activists with links to a WikiLeaks leak who were later gunned down, their mistake was that they 'weren't acting in an anonymous way.' Manning, it would seem, wasn't either."
posted by homunculus at 8:47 AM on June 7, 2010


In case anyone missed it, here's the recent New Yorker profile on Assange and WikiLeaks: No Secrets
posted by homunculus at 8:48 AM on June 7, 2010


Adrian Lamo's facebook wall is interesting reading: http://www.facebook.com/felon

If you were torn up over a tough decision and just interested in 'doing the right thing', would you be holding media interviews about it?
posted by Jairus at 8:52 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hope he got those 260,000 classified embassy cables to someone before getting turned in.
posted by orme at 8:59 AM on June 7, 2010


It's possible that Wikileaks got the cables, but deny having them to save Manning from being charged with that too.
posted by ymgve at 9:19 AM on June 7, 2010


His arrest is the third known apprehension of a suspected leaker during the Obama Administration, after Shamai Leibowitz and Thomas A. Drake, and seems to reflect an increasingly aggressive response to unauthorized disclosures of classified information. (via Secrecy News)
posted by acro at 9:39 AM on June 7, 2010


Skorgu: "The Hacker News discussion (not that kind of hacker) has some interesting comments, including one by (apparently) a former employer."

Direct link to employer comment.
posted by mwhybark at 9:42 AM on June 7, 2010


Lamo says he felt he had no choice but to turn in Manning, but that he’s now concerned about the soldier’s status and well-being. The FBI hasn’t told Lamo what charges Manning may face, if any.
How about treason or whatever the military code of justice equivalent there is for passing off "battlefield intelligence" to a hostile foreign party might be... I think Lamo is about to find out that being a government witness has some downsides. The thing is, Lamo is going to get blamed hard, but if Manning actually admitted to stealing classified information to him then this put Lamo, particularly as a info-crime felon, in a terrible position: if he didn't 'snitch' on Manning he was going to get roped into it once the federal investigation started... and it was bound to come to that once Manning started bragging.

Basically, Manning fucked himself and Lamo.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:59 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


His arrest is the third known apprehension of a suspected leaker during the Obama Administration

Glenn Greenwald: War on whistle-blowers intensifies
posted by homunculus at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


...turned in by former hacker Adrian Lamo

The eponysterically named Adrian Lamo.
posted by atrazine at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2010


“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.

Answer: Spend several years in prison, escape prison, rob several banks, get caught, spend several more years in prison, get paroled, get a book and a movie made about you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:12 AM on June 7, 2010


Another interesting tidbit from that Hacker News post; Lamo seems to imply that some underpinnings of cryptographically secured conversations have been compromised.

Or maybe not. High-profile folks who work in information security get stung All The Time by not following secure practices themselves, and key management is boring and hard.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:21 AM on June 7, 2010


"World-wide anarchy in CSV format."

This groan-worthy phrase is up there with "Hack the Gibson." Also, thinking about anarchy organized into a neat, comma-delimited format is coming close to making my brain explode.
posted by chambers at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2010


"You are Number Six."

From his Twitter-account 12 hours ago: "@wikileaks I'm not an "informant". I'm a citizen who acted his conscience as he saw it. You should understand that. Practice your opsec."
posted by iviken at 11:07 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only if the commas are owned by the workers themselves!
posted by symbioid at 11:30 AM on June 7, 2010


(Ooops! i meant that in reference to chambers comment)

chambers: ""World-wide anarchy in CSV format."

This groan-worthy phrase is up there with "Hack the Gibson." Also, thinking about anarchy organized into a neat, comma-delimited format is coming close to making my brain explode.
"
posted by symbioid at 11:32 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Punctuation wants to be free!
posted by chambers at 12:01 PM on June 7, 2010


This MSNBC article says that Wikileaks released a statement calling Lamo and Wired author Kevin Poulsen “notorious felons, informers & manipulators.”

i'd link to the statement from Wikileaks directly but the site is experiencing heavy traffic.
posted by uaudio at 1:11 PM on June 7, 2010


It's probably worth me pointing out as a fellow man with Asperger's Syndrome, Lamo might not have access to the complex moral decision system that commentators seem to be attributing to him.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 1:18 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


At first glance “notorious felons, informers & manipulators" seems rather inflammatory.

But if you break it down it seems descriptive and not really newsworthy. That Kevin and Lamo are felons, any hacker that ever uses social engineering is by definition manipulative, both of them having wikipedia entries pretty much shows they are notorious, and at Lamo certainly is an informant (well, he informed, which seems pretty close).
posted by el io at 5:06 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that the Tor network is allegedly compromised. I suspected that it would be - it seems easy to join, and you're almost guaranteed that interesting documents will flow over it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:10 PM on June 7, 2010


It's trivial to "compromise" Tor in the sense that Wikileaks did, which is just to set up an exit node and intercept everything that comes across it, and one can reasonably assume that dozens of different national intelligence organizations and other interested parties are doing so all the time.

The goal of Tor is not to ensure that when data comes out of the exit node, it's encrypted, but to ensure that the identity of the party on the other end is not traceable through any kind of routing information. Of course, if you're sending unencrypted information over Tor and the content of the information identifies you in its own right, or would be embarrasing to you if it got out into the open, then you're doing it wrong, and it's bound to blow up in your face sooner or later.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:02 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lamo trusts the US military more than Wikileaks. What appalling judgement.
posted by smoke at 7:14 PM on June 7, 2010


At first glance “notorious felons, informers & manipulators" seems rather inflammatory.

It strikes me as a pot-vs-kettle situation. I've known Julian a long time, more than 15 years. I've always considered him a friend. But lately I'm starting to like him a lot less as the things he does in the name of WikiLeaks are less & less defensible to me. It's not enough to have a great, world-changing idea. You have to restrict yourself to using only acceptable means to run it also. I'm coming to the conclusion that for whatever reason, Julian's not committed to doing that; he's come to believe that the ends justify the means. That's really quite unfortunate, because WikiLeaks is a great idea & deserves better than it seems Julian is prepared to give it.
posted by scalefree at 7:28 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What things scalefree? (genuinely interested)
posted by smoke at 7:30 PM on June 7, 2010


His tendency to use loaded language, claiming support from people who haven't offered it, the less than honest way he framed & edited the video are three that come to mind. He just seems to not know where the limits are when it comes to his project.
posted by scalefree at 7:50 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you give me some concrete examples or links to read of the language, support, editing etc? I'm not trying to grill you, just interested in it.
posted by smoke at 8:28 PM on June 7, 2010


scalefree: "he's come to believe that the ends justify the means"

This directly echoes the accountability critique in the New Yorker profile. I think that's interesting. Did you come to this conclusion before or after reading it? Please understand, I'm not sniping, just curious.
posted by mwhybark at 8:30 PM on June 7, 2010


smoke, the hyperbolic language in the unveiling of the Apache video would qualify as 'loaded'. If the video had been presented by someone who did not preface it by using the word murder the debate might have been less contentious, or not.

In any case, Assange was clearly intent on framing the material in a specific way and used strong language as an aspect of that. Does that make it 'dishonest,' as scalefree characterizes that effort with respect to the editing of the video itself? Not necessarily, in my opinion.

The New Yorker thing is pretty essential reading to this part of the discussion, I would say, however you feel about it.
posted by mwhybark at 8:35 PM on June 7, 2010


Riddle me this:

Manning claims he had watched the video. And that he simply dumped files onto a CD-R to leak them.

Yet Wikileaks claims the video was encrypted, and had to spend some time breaking the encryption.

So, did Manning encrypt the video himself, send it to them, then forget to tell them how to decrypt it, or what? Are Wikileaks lying about it being encrypted? Does the Millitary have some kind of inline encryption scheme so that you can view videos that come out of any random JAG officer's folder if you're sitting at an Army computer, but once you copy the file onto a CD-R it's magically encrypted again?

Something's missing here. Maybe it's obvious and I'm being a dumbass.
posted by Jimbob at 8:50 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jimbob:

If I where Wikileaks, and I received an unencrypted video from an inside source, maybe I too would claim to have spent some time decrypting a video stream acquired by over-the-air interception, or maybe through some clever hacking. That would help protect my inside source.

The police also do it all the time. In my native Spain, every time the Minister of the Interior shows on television saying they arrested some terrorist (and we have actual homegrown terrorists who blow up people with bombs, these are not just people who wear Casio watches), he says they found their trail through an old usb thumbdrive, that they managed to access the terrorists' encryption keys, etc. I am sure 99% of the times he is lying, and they have an informer.
posted by kandinski at 1:06 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jimbob, you are, (your own words) a dumbass. From the Wired article:

Manning told Lamo that the Garani video was left accessible in a directory on a U.S. Central Command server, centcom.smil.mil, by officers who investigated the incident. The video, he said, was an encrypted AES-256 ZIP file.
posted by ymgve at 1:23 AM on June 8, 2010


Jimbob: interesting question but I am inclined to agree with Kandinski.

Scalefree: I too am genuinely interested in what you are saying about Julian. It almost seems that you are saying whils the Wikileaks idea is worthwhile - your issue is not with the release of the information but the manner in which it is presented? I take your point on the title of the video but he did release the full version also did he not? Does the title really take that much away?

'Julian's not committed to doing that' - how do you mean running in an 'acceptable' manner? What would you consider acceptable?


'claiming support from people who haven't offered it' - Can you elaborate / source this please?

Again, like smoke, I am genuinely interested.

NB. Is anyone else surprised this thread has sub-50 responses? When I saw it I was thinking a double ton for sure.
posted by numberstation at 1:32 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


ymgve, maybe I'm just a little confused by the Wired article. That grade of encryption fit's Jullian Assange's description of it as "moderately difficult". Good. That fits Wikileaks being sent an encrypted file.

But, also from the Wired aricle:

"At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter,” Manning wrote of the video. “No big deal … about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it.”

So when Manning found it, it was already encrypted. But he watched it. So the sequence of events:

1. Manning finds 256-bit encrypted ZIP
2. Manning decrypts ZIP. Presumably, he has access to the key.
3. Manning watches video.
4. Manning sends the encrypted ZIP to Wikileaks, but doesn't actually give Wikileaks the key they need to decrypt it.
5. Wikileaks wastes a few months trying to decrypt it.

I guess that could work. It enhances my opinion of Manning as a bigger dumbass than I.
posted by Jimbob at 2:23 AM on June 8, 2010


Don't encrypted zip files normally use passwords, not key files? (Obviously in this example the hash of the password would be the key). If it was AES-256 they would have probably had to attempt to guess the password. I don't think it's possible to brute force AES-256. Otherwise it could have been an old zip file with DES or whatever.

Anyway, I certainly HOPE this guy wasn't the source.
posted by delmoi at 4:14 AM on June 8, 2010


Yea, I'm seeing your point too Jimbob...I'm tempted to think the key was provided as well in some fashion, AES 256-bit encryption is pretty much impossible to crack (compared to RSA)
posted by samsara at 5:38 AM on June 8, 2010


numberstation: "NB. Is anyone else surprised this thread has sub-50 responses? When I saw it I was thinking a double ton for sure."

I think it's a couple of things.

One, the site really went at it hammer and tongs in the initial Apache video thread, but as perceptions shifted post-release (partially a result of Assange's initial framing as noted above) the heat went out of the debate to an extent, and thus, this outcome isn't generating a ton of committed and passionate responses.

Two, neither the kid nor Lamo seems to be someone who has conducted themselves in a manner which is particularly defensible, so no-one's saying provocative things about their actions. So, again, there's no heated debate.
posted by mwhybark at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2010


This directly echoes the accountability critique in the New Yorker profile. I think that's interesting. Did you come to this conclusion before or after reading it?

It's a tentative conclusion that's been building in confidence for at least a couple months now.

'Julian's not committed to doing that' - how do you mean running in an 'acceptable' manner? What would you consider acceptable?

WikiLeaks has two competing, conflicting principles at its heart. There's the transparency required of an organization that wants to generate trust in its message, and there's the secrecy necessary to protect its sources & methods. Where you draw the line between these is very important; too much secrecy breeds distrust in your ethical standards & too much transparency exposes your sources & methods to attack by those who want to silence you. Unfortunately it looks to me like Julian's commitment to transparency is more lip service than reality. YMMV.

'claiming support from people who haven't offered it' - Can you elaborate / source this please?

From Click and Dagger: Inside WikiLeaks' Leak Factory:
When I contacted the impressive figures who'd been listed on WikiLeaks' advisory board, some didn't know exactly why they were named. Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, a former representative of the Dalai Lama, recalls getting a cryptic email from WikiLeaks a few years ago, but says he's never been asked for advice. Xiao Qiang, a Chinese democracy activist, says he exchanged emails with Assange but little more. (After this article was originally published, WikiLeaks removed its advisory board from an updated version of its website.)
I've read at least a couple more examples like this but don't have them ready at hand.

I'll throw out one more piece of data for those wishing to understand Julian's motives. Here's his apparently unfinished manifesto on politics, conspiracy & technology, Conspiracy as Governance (PDF). There's an irony at the heart of it, which I'm not sure he sees - to expose the conspiracy of government he's created his own conspiracy to defeat it. Meet the new boss, same as the old one.
posted by scalefree at 8:50 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's an irony at the heart of it, which I'm not sure he sees - to expose the conspiracy of government he's created his own conspiracy to defeat it.

Which was exactly the point made by this NYer article. But it misses an important facet. Wikileaks is not the government They're not bombing anyone, they're not running around killing pepole, etc.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wikileaks is not the government They're not bombing anyone, they're not running around killing pepole, etc.

I don't think comparing WikiLeaks to the governments & other organizations they expose is the best measurement. I prefer to measure them against themselves, against who they could be. I think Julian's become a zealot for his cause & does things of questionable ethics to further it, which ultimately defeats its own purpose.
posted by scalefree at 7:15 PM on June 8, 2010




From the above article:
Wikileaks has not responded to calls and e-mails from Wired.com. A message published on the organization’s Twitter account Monday said that allegations “that we have been sent 260,000 classified U.S, embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”
Given Julian's penchant for strategic deception, how trustworthy is this statement?
posted by scalefree at 7:41 PM on June 8, 2010


New development: The Pentagon would like to have some words with Assange and is actively looking for him.
posted by uaudio at 9:07 AM on June 11, 2010


Dear Mr. Assange,

We would very much like to have a chat with you. For you convenience, we've taken the trouble to set up a lovely little suite in scenic Bagram, Afghanistan just for you where we can have a nice, long conversation. We will cover all costs for transportation and accommodations at our expense. We look forward to meeting with you.

Your friends,
The Pentagon.

P.S. Look behind you.
posted by homunculus at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2010




Somehow I suspect that if anything happened to Assange, and Wikileaks actually had the cables (which they're not claiming to have), they would promptly be published. It's not like he's personally uploading every document for release, it sounds like he's more of a spokesman. I wouldn't be surprised if Wikileaks didn't have some type of dead man's switch that dumps everything they're sitting on in the event the admins get 'disappeared.'

It makes me wonder though, if it's that easy for a 22-year old kid to stumble onto this information, how the hell could it have been secret in the first place? If these are serious secrets we don't want other countries to know about, and this is the security level they're working with, chances are that horse has already long left the barn and was ridden by actual expert spies.
posted by mullingitover at 11:53 PM on June 11, 2010


Wikileaks Commissions Lawyers to Defend Alleged Army Source: In which Julian continues to use unacceptable methods in pursuit of his objectives.
It would also be helpful to all concerned if you stopped trying to justify your behavior by whipping up sentiment against Mr. Manning in other ways. Your most effective personal strategy is to say you were scared due to your previous experiences, unthoughtful due to recent drug problems, and made a decision which you now bitterly regret and would under no circumstances repeat. Going around like a poor man’s Tsutomu, constantly drawing attention to yourself through the destruction of a young romantic outlaw figure, will leave you permanently reviled by history–and me.
posted by scalefree at 10:39 PM on June 12, 2010






"Julian continues to use unacceptable methods in pursuit of his objectives."
Did he really get drone aircraft with weapons systems, and helicopters with life and death causing big guns? And he started killing journalists whilst quoting "yee-haws", and "videogame taglines", and he drops guided missiles on weddings, and plays "Global and Middle East geo-strategy-games" with the lives, and safety of People? He is free to come and go in all nations, and it is an affront to global national security if people don't let him run around their countries and run them, and "buy" their resources for "reasonable" prices? And he has the power to 'foster' governments, and decides which are ok, and which are not so?

Like covering up Murderous Torture, and calling it, in the ugliest of all cynicism, "asymmetrical warfare"- acting like the victims of torture murder were just "more evil people, willing to use suicide as a weapon".

See, because I thought that it was my government doing unacceptable things, perpetuating a cycle of violence and a lack of nuanced understanding of social and cultural differences that people have been telling us about for decades, and he provided video evidence in one simple case, which could show some "skeptics" what military occupation really looks like, what it can do to the psyche of a 'captive' soldier, and has looked like all along, and I was under the impression that the 19 year old who accessed the computer is in some kind of "special detention" jail in KUWAIT, and Assange is hiding out... but yeah, I guess he really is unacceptable. Despicable tactics.
Another win for Big Leaks.
I don't know about his ethics, and I have a nuanced opinion on this particular person, and the particular scenario of state-department memos in question, but that assertion seems pretty non-sequitur. In an assymetrical situation, where the power of laws and government are on one side, how does one 'keep sources' without some level of deception; seems inherent to the concept of leaking (which you seem to not fundamentally have a problem with).

I prefer to measure them against themselves, against who they could be.
"you go to war with the Army you have . . . not the Army you might want or wish to have" Why would this be different for leaking? -especially, leaking about an army that has this policy.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:40 AM on June 14, 2010
















Stay with it, homonc. Greenwald was pretty tight, I thought.
posted by mwhybark at 11:20 PM on June 18, 2010










Federation of American Scientists: Wikileaks Fails “Due Diligence” Review.
posted by scalefree at 11:11 PM on June 28, 2010








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