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If the Justice Department Is Investigating Manning-Wikileaks, Why Isn’t It Investigating Lamo-Wired?

photo: neural.it via Flickr

WikiLeaks says that their software allows a leaker to upload information to them with complete anonymity. WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange has repeatedly said that he does not know if Private Bradley Manning is, in fact, the leaker of any particular set of U.S. government documents. Contrary to the assumption made by CNN’s correspondent Jennifer Yellin, Assange would not go to jail in a Judy Miller-like fashion to protect his source, if  he never knew who his source was.

The federal conspiracy statute is Title 18 US Code 371; it provides this pertinent part:

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

A conspiracy requires an agreement between two people, a partnership in crime. Ianelli v. US, 420 US 770 (1975). In US v. Valigura, 99-5005 US Ct of Appeals for the Armed Forces (2000), the Court of Appeals found that “If there is no actual agreement or ‘meeting of the minds’ there is no conspiracy.”

By the same token, how could Assange ever form a meeting of the minds with someone he has never met? (By met, I mean in person, over the phone, in cyberspace, or any other way.)

On the other hand, Adrian Lamo claims that the chat logs of instant messages he allegedly had with Manning contain classified information.  Wired.com’s senior editor Kevin Poulsen also claims that he spoke with Lamo; Lamo agreed with Poulsen to give Poulsen a complete and unredacted set of the chat logs, presumably with all that classified information intact, if Poulsen would drive down to Lamo’s location to collect them. Poulsen not only agreed to this, but apparently made the trip thereby committing an affirmative act in furtherance of the agreement.

Now here’s what intrigues me: if the U.S. Department of Justice is looking at a conspiracy charge involving WikiLeaks, why isn’t it looking at a conspiracy charge against Wired.com? In the case of Wired we have: 1) two people who actually know each other, 2) an agreement to turn over classified information, and 3) an act done in furtherance of that agreement.

In the WikiLeaks case we have a website that touts do-it-yourself anonymous uploading of information which may then be published after WikiLeaks has had a chance to vet the content for authenticity. So far, there’s been no proof offered that Manning ever communicated directly with Assange — so how could they form a meeting of the minds?

CommunityMy FDL

If the Justice Department Is Investigating Manning-Wikileaks, Why Isn’t It Investigating Lamo-Wired?

photo: neural.it via Flickr

WikiLeaks says that their software allows a leaker to upload information to them with complete anonymity. WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange has repeatedly said that he does not know if Private Bradley Manning is, in fact, the leaker of any particular set of U.S. government documents. Contrary to the assumption made by CNN’s correspondent Jennifer Yellin, Assange would not go to jail in a Judy Miller-like fashion to protect his source, if  he never knew who his source was.

The federal conspiracy statute is Title 18 US Code 371; it provides this pertinent part:

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

A conspiracy requires an agreement between two people, a partnership in crime. Ianelli v. US, 420 US 770 (1975). In US v. Valigura, 99-5005 US Ct of Appeals for the Armed Forces (2000), the Court of Appeals found that “If there is no actual agreement or ‘meeting of the minds’ there is no conspiracy.”

By the same token, how could Assange ever form a meeting of the minds with someone he has never met? (By met, I mean in person, over the phone, in cyberspace, or any other way.)

On the other hand, Adrian Lamo claims that the chat logs of instant messages he allegedly had with Manning contain classified information.  Wired.com’s senior editor Kevin Poulsen also claims that he spoke with Lamo; Lamo agreed with Poulsen to give Poulsen a complete and unredacted set of the chat logs, presumably with all that classified information intact, if Poulsen would drive down to Lamo’s location to collect them. Poulsen not only agreed to this, but apparently made the trip thereby committing an affirmative act in furtherance of the agreement.

Now here’s what intrigues me: if the U.S. Department of Justice is looking at a conspiracy charge involving WikiLeaks, why isn’t it looking at a conspiracy charge against Wired.com? In the case of Wired we have: 1) two people who actually know each other, 2) an agreement to turn over classified information, and 3) an act done in furtherance of that agreement.

In the WikiLeaks case we have a website that touts do-it-yourself anonymous uploading of information which may then be published after WikiLeaks has had a chance to vet the content for authenticity. So far, there’s been no proof offered that Manning ever communicated directly with Assange — so how could they form a meeting of the minds?

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Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril is a former Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York under several different U.S. Attorneys, former counsel to the Inspector General for the N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection where she investigated threats to the New York City water supply and other environmental crimes, as well as public corruption and fraud against the government, former Examining Attorney at the N.Y.C. Department of Investigation and former Capital Construction Counsel at New York City Parks and Recreation.
She is now in private practice with a colleague whom she met while at the USA Attorney's Office. Ms. Kouril is a member of the Steering Committee, National Committeewoman and Regional Coordinator for the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, a member of the Program Committee of the Federal Bar Council and a member of the Election Law Committee at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She is active in several other Bar Associations.
Most important of all, she is a soccer mom.