Wired Magazine, for reasons of its own that I’m not sure I believe, has suddenly decided to post the full text of the Bradley Manning-Adrian Lamo chat logs. I’m sure that many people will find much to mull over. (Kevin Gosztola also has a posting up at MyFDL examining more about what can be gleaned from the release at last of the entire logs: Wired Magazine Finally Releases Entire Manning-Lamo Chat Logs: What’s Revealed?) One thing that stands out immediately, because it occurs very early on in the chat logs, is Adrian Lamo’s assertion to Bradley Manning that he is both a journalist and a minister, and that their conversations are legally protected.
In the quotes following, “bradass87” is Bradley Manning and “firstname.lastname@example.org” is Adrian Lamo:
(10:21:34 AM) bradass87: im fairly open… but careful, so yes..
(10:22:00 AM) bradass87: im aware of your bi part
(10:22:24 AM) bradass87: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning
(10:23:34 AM) email@example.com: I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.
This is not totally new information, but it does corroborate a report made by Glenn Greenwald on June 18, 2010, and something Lamo told Jonathan Fildes at BBC ten days earlier.
From Greenwald’s article:
If one assumes that this happened as the Wired version claims, what Lamo did here is despicable. He holds himself out as an “award-winning journalist” and told Manning he was one (“I did tell him that I worked as a journalist,” Lamo said). Indeed, Lamo told me (though it doesn’t appear in the chat logs published by Wired) that he told Manning early on that he was a journalist and thus could offer him confidentiality for everything they discussed under California’s shield law. Lamo also said he told Manning that he was an ordained minister and could treat Manning’s talk as a confession, which would then compel Lamo under the law to keep their discussions confidential (early on in their chats, Manning said: “I can’t believe what I’m confessing to you”). In sum, Lamo explicitly led Manning to believe he could trust him and that their discussions would be confidential — perhaps legally required to be kept confidential — only to then report everything Manning said to the Government.
According to the BBC story:
[Lamo] also said that he was not approached by Mr Manning as a journalist.
“I was a private citizen in a private capacity – there was no source, journalist relationship,” he told BBC News.
“I did tell him that I worked as a journalist. I would have been happy to write about him myself, but we just decided that it would be too unethical.”
BoingBoing also posted a version of the logs posted first by Wired, as did the Washington Post; FDL posted a merged version of all the previously posted logs. None of these had posted the portions of the log cited at the beginning of this article, which obviously had been withheld by Wired, who certainly had the full logs all along. One must assume the Feds had this material as well, yet they tortured Manning by holding him for months in solitary confinement and sexually humiliating him via forced nudity, even though they knew he had issues around sexual gender and being bullied by others because of sexuality.
Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing commented this afternoon, upon the release of the logs, “It reads like a deliberated attempt to manipulate or even entrap Manning, on Lamo’s part, and seems quite important to understanding what Manning thought he was doing by talking to him.”
Indeed, it does read exactly like that. In the logs, Manning himself seems to realize how his own desperation has led him to seek someone out. Such a situation only highlights the dubiety of the operation utilized to get to Manning. I’m no attorney, and I’ll leave it to other legal types to ascertain to what degree this damages the government’s case, if indeed there ever had much of a case, against Bradley Manning.