Finally, Wired magazine released the complete, unedited chat logs between Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, and Adrian Lamo, the known hacker who turned Manning into government authorities. About a quarter of the logs, which Wired senior editor Kevin Poulsen obtained from Lamo in June 2010 after Manning’s arrest, were published during June. Wired editor-in-chief Evan Hansen and Poulsen fought critics like Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald, who argued in December 2010 that Poulsen was committing a “journalistic disgrace” by refusing to release the full logs.
Hansen and Poulsen denied that they had a journalistic obligation to publish the full logs and declared they would not disclose the full logs until the story or case had reached a point where it would be acceptable for “everything Manning disclosed in confidence” to become “fair game for reporting.”
What can be gleaned from the full chat logs? What in the approximately seventy-five percent of the logs not previously disclosed did Wired editors think was too toxic to put out for the public to read and consume?
Upon first glance, it appears one main concern of the Wired editors was the remarks Manning makes on questioning his gender identity and wanting a sex change. On July 6, 2011, New York Magazine published instant message chat logs between Manning and a 19-year old gay activist and web designer Zachary Antolak, a transgender who called herself Queen of the Atheists.
With that story published, the Wired magazine editors probably felt it could do no more harm if sections like the following were made public:
(10:19:00 AM) bradass87: im kind of coming out of a cocoon… its going to take some time, but i hopefully wont be a ghost anymore
(10:19:53 AM) firstname.lastname@example.org: You mentioned gender identity, I believe.
(10:19:59 AM) bradass87: ive had an unusual, and very stressful experience over the last decade or so
(10:20:53 AM) bradass87: yes… questioned my gender for several years… sexual orientation was easy to figure out… but i started to come to terms with it during the first few months of my deployment
(10:21:09 AM) email@example.com: May I ask the particulars?
(10:21:34 AM) firstname.lastname@example.org: I’m bi myself, and my ex is MTF.
(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
And later on May 22:
(11:47:28 AM) bradass87: im very isolated atm… lost all of my emotional support channels… family, boyfriend, trusting colleagues… im a mess
(11:49:02 AM) bradass87: im in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors… and the only safe place i seem to have is this satellite internet connection
(11:49:51 AM) bradass87: and i already got myself into minor trouble, revealing my uncertainty over my gender identity… which is causing me to lose this job… and putting me in an awkward limbo
(11:50:54 AM) bradass87: i wish it were as simple as “hey, go transition”… but i need to get paperwork sorted… financial stuff sorted… legal stuff… and im still deployed, so i have to redeploy back to the US and be outprocessed
(11:52:09 AM) bradass87: i could be hanging out here in limbo as a super-intelligent, awkwardly effeminate supply guy [pick up these boxes and move them] for up to two months
(11:52:23 AM) bradass87: at the very least, i managed to keep my security clearance [so far]
(11:57:49 AM) bradass87: im sorry, im a total mess right now… :’(
(11:58:33 AM) bradass87: and little does anyone know, but among this “visible” mess, theres the mess i created that no-one knows about yet
And on May 23:
(10:15:19 AM) bradass87: always been too intellectual, if not just plain queer, for religion
Poulsen has written, “At the time of his discussions with Lamo, he’d been through a bad breakup and had other personal conflicts. But I felt — and still do feel — that it’s a mistake to automatically ascribe Manning’s actions to his feeling depressed. (For one thing, his breakup occurred after the leaking.) There’s an implicit political judgment in that conclusion: that leaking is an aberrant act, a symptom of a psychological disorder. Manning expressed clear and rational reasons for doing what he did, whether one agrees with those reasons or not.” That is why it is justified to presume the gender identity messages played a part in the decision to no release the full logs. (But, is it the full explanation for not disclosing the full logs?)
What also was not in the portion released were details on how Manning gathering documents on his career to have after his discharge:
(02:13:54 PM) bradass87: gathering as many documents as possible re: my career
(02:14:12 PM) bradass87: trying to control the narrative
(02:14:50 PM) bradass87: From an award recommendation (never completed): “SPC Manning’s persistence led to the disruption of “Former Special Groups” in the New Baghdad area. SPC Manning’s tracking of targets led to the identification of previously unknown enemy support zones. His analysis led to heavy targeting of insurgent leaders in the area that consistently disrupted their operations. SPC Manning’s dedication led to the detainment of Malik Fadil al-Ugayli, a Tier 2 level target within the Commando OE.”
Recommended awards for assisting in the disruption of Former Special Groups (FSG) in Southeastern Baghdad, identifying and disrupting operations from previously unknown enemy support zones in Hayy Zafaraniyah, and assisting in the detainment of Malik Fadil al-Ugayli, a Tier 2 level target.
(02:16:47 PM) bradass87: Malik was a heavy cell phone user
This of course raises the question: Does WikiLeaks have documents on Bradley Manning’s career? Did Manning transfer documents on himself to WikiLeaks?
From May 22, one also gets a glimpse at how savvy Manning became on NSA operations, while in the military:
(7:45:52 AM) bradass87: im not all that paranoid about NSA / SIGINT services… you just have to be OPSEC savvy, and you’re all good
(7:46:27 AM) bradass87: and FISA actually does come in very handy
(7:46:46 AM) bradass87: though, its frequently overlooked
(7:47:36 AM) bradass87: i.e.: they’ll collect signal information, to refine other intel sources and try to collect evidence…
(7:47:57 AM) bradass87: erasing the signal data
(7:48:11 AM) bradass87: since its not legally “evidence”
(7:49:38 AM) bradass87: and yes, illegal wiretaps are used in coordination between NSA and FBI… though its not seen as illegal, because often the data is only used to give leads
(7:49:42 AM) bradass87: and not evidence
(7:50:49 AM) email@example.com: *nod*
(7:50:52 AM) bradass87: one of the reasons assange uses his rubberhose plausibly deniable whole-disk encryption setup
(7:51:46 AM) bradass87: i can see both sides of the whole illegal wiretap debate
(7:52:17 AM) bradass87: it IS awfully useful in catching bad people… but innocent privacy IS violated…
(7:52:37 AM) bradass87: but everyone does it now…
(7:53:08 AM) bradass87: its an inevitability… thats my honest opinion
(7:53:31 AM) bradass87: so, i encrypt as much as i can
Finally, there is an excerpt from a New York Times article published on January 20 in 1919. The excerpt deals with the concept of “open diplomacy.”
“Open diplomacy” does not mean that every word said in preparing a treaty should be shouted to the whole world and submitted to all the misconstructions that malevolence, folly, and evil ingenuity could put upon it. Open diplomacy is the opposite of secret diplomacy, which consisted in the underhand negotiation of treaties whose very existence was kept from the world. It consisted also in the modification of openly negotiated treaties by secret treaties by some of the Powers behind the backs of the others. It is against this kind of double dealing and secret dealing, the mother of wars, that the world protested. It has demanded the substitution of open diplomacy for secret diplomacy. But open diplomacy does not turn a peace conference into a debating society.
It would be reasonable for the newspaper correspondents at Versailles to expect that the delicate work of reconciling divergent points of view on so tender a subject as national interests should be wholly conducted in their presence. The conferees, by reserving the right of holding executive sessions while they admit the correspondants to open sessions, have gone as far as the needs of the public demand. The world has intrusted the Peace Conference with the work of preparing the treaty. It wishes to know what is done, and why it is done; but the sensible part of it, at any rate, has no desire to have spread before it all the heart-to-heart talksmand turns of phrase of men performing the gigantic task of reconciling national differences and coming to agreement. It wishes to give malice and anti-Ally propaganda as little as possible to distort and warp. It knows from four years’ experience what infinite possibilities are in that line.
Sharing this excerpt helps Manning’s case, if he did in fact release information to WikiLeaks. This excerpt indicates he thought about what he was doing and he can effectively defend himself, if he ever gets his day in court, and use this as he makes a case that he is a classic military whistleblower.
A few more details in the full logs: Lamo tells him his MICE (Money, Ideology, Coercion & Ego) is ideology. That Lamo didn’t think he was motivated by money, coercion or ego is also possibly helpful to his defense.
Manning asked Lamo what he thought about the ethics of his situation. He also told Lamo, “I’m not a violent guy” and said he was “on the verge of becoming most notorious ‘hacktivist’ or whatever you want to call it.”
The full released chat logs show he was thinking deeply about the implications of his action, before and after. The motivation for engaging Lamo in the manner which he engaged Lamo likely stems from a belief that he would face repercussions from the military and government. But, at the same time, he thought about the content of the material he was allegedly releasing to WikiLeaks, as he could cite a few examples of what he thought might be revelations when released.
It should be noted that Firedoglake has a role in this story. Throughout 2010, FDL tracked the chat logs:
Wired published the first chat logs on June 10, 2010. In the article, they indicate that these represent roughly 25% of the logs they received from Adrian Lamo of his chats with Bradley Manning. Later, Wired’s Kevin Poulsen told Glenn Greenwald of Salon that the logs were complete with the exception of “Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information that I’m not throwing up without vetting first.”
Lamo also provided Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post with a complete version of the logs, which were also excerpted on June 10. And on June 19, BoingBoing published what was purported to be a more complete version of one section of the log.
The result of the tracking led to the publication of the “Merged Manning-Lamo Chat Logs.” Using color coding, Firedoglake noted what was revealed by the Washington Post, BoingBoing and Wired and FDL highlighted the sections that BoingBoing alleged to be edited.
It’s worth noting, on Monday, David House, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, appeared on Democracy Now! House, who has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury empanelled to investigate crimes of espionage allegedly committed by WikiLeaks, described the chat logs:
AMY GOODMAN: For the people who aren’t familiar with this case, explain what those chats were that were released by Wired magazine.
DAVID HOUSE: Right, so Wired magazine released the alleged chat logs of Bradley Manning, between Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo.
AMY GOODMAN: Some of them.
DAVID HOUSE: Some of them, right. And these chat logs were purported to show Bradley Manning confessing to having released the WikiLeaks cables to WikiLeaks. But there’s a lot of controversy about the validity of these logs, whether they’re true or not, because the logs, the way they’re made up, it’s actually just like a text document, something anyone can type up. And these were released by Wired.com, partially, during the May 2010 story that broke all of this to the mainstream press…
*Stay tuned for more on the recently released Manning/Lamo chat logs.