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Lamo: Manning Was ‘Looking to Brag’ About What He’d Done

The prosecution rested today at Pfc. Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing and one of the final witnesses to be called to the stand was hacker Adrian Lamo.

Earlier, I presented about seventy percent of his testimony. Here is the other part of the testimony that I was unable to get up before it was time for the media to leave the base.

After Lamo claimed Manning “declined” his offer for journalistic protection, Coombs directed Lamo’s attention to this section of the Manning-Lamo chat logs:

(12:12:46 PM) Want to go to the press? 🙂

(12:12:51 PM) bradass87: no

(12:12:59 PM) bradass87: theres an issue with that

(12:13:01 PM) open offer.

“Open offer?” It would seem Lamo was telling Manning at any time he could have journalistic protection.

Coombs asked Lamo to confirm that he had already reached out to law enforcement. He had. Also, he gave the chat logs to Wired magazine. That is correct, Lamo responded. “It was not for print by me.”

Then, asked if he thought Wired would do nothing with the chat logs, Lamo replied to Coombs, “I was concerned by the depth of the unsurpassed leakage that was evident in the admissions that I was uncertain if I would be coming back with the federal authorities.” (Coombs said so it was “an in case I don’t show up again moment.”)

Coombs suggested if the instant messages were encrypted then someone might have wanted the conversation to be kept confidential. “That might be one reason,” Lamo answered.

Part of the chat logs initially not released dealt with some sensitive subjects and they talked about information regarding bradass87, Coombs stated. He asked Lamo to confirm whether Manning was reaching out for moral or emotional support.

“I believe that they were reaching out for approbation and for a like-minded individual that would act as a similar figure in their life to Julian Assange,” replied Lamo

“That’s a long answer to a question I didn’t really ask,” Coombs replied.

Lamo then conceded that whomever was bradass87 was looking for emotional and moral support.

Coombs continued, “Looking for guidance on what they could in the situation they found themselves in?”

“I don’t believe” they were looking for “guidance so much as they were looking to brag about what they had done.” Coombs pushed back against this notion that bradass87 had been braggin. Lamo responded and added the chat logs are bifurcated in that they deal with personal issues and others deal with criminal wrongdoing.

This was when Coombs asked about his belief that he is a minister. He confirmed to Coombs that he is recognized at the Universal Life Church. He confirmed he told Manning he could treat this as a confession.

Coombs then repeatedly asked the following: “A person might come to you as a minister as matter of formal religion or act of conscience?”

One answer Lamo gave was, “Perhaps to bond, yes.” Coombs said, “Listen to my question.”

“I understand the question, however…” Can you answer? Coombs asked.

A member of the prosecution stood up and declared the witness clearly does not understand so the question should be rephrased.

Coombs broke it down: An individual can come to a minister as a matter of formal religion. Truth? Lamo answered yes. An individual can come to a minister as an act of conscience? “Yes I imagine they could,” Lamo replied.

At this point, Coombs stated the defense had no further questions. The prosecution came up to redirect or ask about answers to the defense’s questions.

The prosecution asked about “Timothy Douglas Webster” and what he had done. They asked him when an Army CID agent first visited him. Lamo contended: “I am not an expert in the various law enforcement agencies therefore I have difficulty” knowing when I met particular agents.

The prosecution broadened the question to when did Lamo first meet with law enforcement agents. He answered: “I believe that would have been May 23 or May 24 however I don’t have it marked on a calendar.”

He added after prosecution tried to get him to testify more definitively on the dates, “If there was a record of such a meeting, that would help me remember.”

Just prior to Lamo taking the stand, Special Agent Antonio Edwards, an investigator for the Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU) who works for Army CID, testified. He claimed he first was involved in the case on May 25, when CCIU received an email from Mr. Chet Uber. Uber said he was aware of an individual in contact with a US Army military intelligence analyst, who was sending information to WikiLeaks.

Uber put Edwards in contact with Lamo. They came in contact physically on June 11, 2010, in Carmichael, California. Edwards met to collect evidence pertaining to the chat logs. While there, he also collected one removable hard drive and an HP mini laptop that Lamo had. The seized property was taken to CCIU for forensics.

Edwards stated Lamo acted as a confidential informant for Army CID. His mission was to collect whatever would assist us in the investigation. He was only given “reasonable expense reimbursement.” According to Edwards, “No other money” was given.

Edwards said Lamo did provide some information but it was not substantive to the investigation.

Cpt. Paul Bouchard of the defense cross-examined Edwards and asked how long Lamo had worked as an informant. Edwards said he began to work for CCIU in the latter part of July 2010 and his time working as an informant ended “three to four months ago.”

Bouchard asked Edwards to confirm that he had said Lamo had two computers and that he had seized one hard drive and computer that already had a hard drive in it. Edwards said he did. Then, Bouchard asked about the fact that there were no search warrants for the hard drive and computer. To which Edwards replied Lamo consented to full searches specific to communications with Manning. (This raises the question of why only one of the computers were seized. Lamo says he switched computers at one point in the chats.)

Edwards testified about going to interview Danny Clark in Boston. He tried to interview him between June 18-23 of 2010. Clark invoked his right to counsel. Lamo provided chat logs that he had with Clark. They were provided around July 22.

Lamo, according to Edwards, had no “specific guidance to search for anything or conduct any activities.” If he found something useful, he was to communicate to CCIU. Lamo knew there were other individuals involved, Edwards said. Since that was the case, if he was to communicate with others, Lamo was to inform agents and they would decide if it was useful to communicate.
He was instructed to, if he communicated, “tread lightly, do not be deceptive and do not do anything that would be illegal.

Edwards first communicated with Lamo over the phone on May 25, 2010. They talked just after Uber connected Edwards to Lamo. Edwards needed to establish the individual Uber was stating was in contact with an analyst was releasing classified information.

Lamo and Edwards talked periodically over until meeting physically in June and after June they only had contact to determine “the extent of the chats” and set up a meeting point.

David Shaver, a forensic expert who has taken the stand in the hearing now multiple times, said he “imaged” Lamo’s computer and hard drive. He had a “limited search scope.” He was able to find what appeared to be several chat logs, slightly modified, on his Linux computer. Shaver believes these were the ones released to the press.

The content between the chat logs on Lamo’s computer and the chat logs on Manning’s computer were basically the same, though Shaver mentioned there were some network connectivity issues that appeared in the logs.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."