GRIFFIN: Getting back to the military leak investigation, a key informant in that case is a former Internet hacker. His name is Adrian Lamo. He tipped off authorities about the 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst suspected of being the source of the WikiLeaks documents. He joins me now live from Sacramento, California.
Adrian, thanks for joining us to talk about this. I know that you have been under a lot of stress lately.
Why don’t you explain to our viewers, number one, how you were in contact with Manning. And number two, why you basically turned him in.
ADRIAN LAMO, FMR. INTERNET HACKER: Well, thank you for having me.
And my contact with Manning was, as Bob Dylan would put it, a simple twist of fate. I had posted a message on Twitter encouraging individuals who had downloaded my documentary illegally to donate money to WikiLeaks. At the time, I believed that they were a legitimate organization. And it was that particular post that caused —
GRIFFIN: Adrian — excuse me, Adrian. We have to break in right now. We’re getting to the president. He’s making a speech in Detroit.
GRIFFIN: Well, before the president started talking, we were talking about the military leak investigation. A key informant in that case is a former Internet hacker. His name is Adrian Lamo. He tipped off authorities — and there he is — about the 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst suspected of being the source of the WikiLeaks documents. And he joins me live from Sacramento, California.
Adrian, thanks for your patience. You know when the president talks, well, we listen.
But let’s get back to your story.
LAMO: It’s not a problem. Always happy to make time for the president.
GRIFFIN: Let me get back to your story. I asked you a two-part question. You answered the first part. But the second part of that question was, why did you basically turn in this guy, Manning, to authorities? Were you trying to actually prevent these documents from being released?
LAMO: In an ideal world, I would have liked to have seen these documents interdicted before they were released. My belief that —
GRIFFIN: Did you give the Pentagon the opportunity to do that?
LAMO: Yes, I did. I made them aware that this leak was — had taken place, and that more were likely to take place. And they — I’m not privy to what kinds of efforts they made to interdict the documents, but they were able to apprehend the alleged leaker in order to prevent more documents from being released.
GRIFFIN: You —
LAMO: And to answer the second part of your question, why did I do it? Quite simply put, because I did not believe that any individual or small group of individuals could vet these documents to a degree sufficient to be able to say without any sort of doubt that they would not result in loss of human life. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has come out and said that the founder of WikiLeaks may very well have blood on his hands. The president of Afghanistan has expressed his outrage. I believe that that has been vindicated in the past couple of days.
GRIFFIN: Adrian, let me ask you about Bradley Manning and what you know about him from the I guess electronic conversations you may have had with him. Did you try to express to him just how dangerous this might have been?
LAMO: I expressed to him that it could be very well considered espionage. And he respectfully disagreed. Espionage is not one of the charges that’s on the table right now. And I’m grateful for that because Mr. Manning is a well-meaning young man. He has a sense of social responsibility. Perhaps not a sense of personal responsibility. But the thing about it is that nothing that I could say would prevent the release of these documents, because they had been leaked prior to my interactions with Bradley Manning.
GRIFFIN: And did you — were you given specific documents or were you just told from Manning about these documents?
LAMO: Although I was not and am not in possession of the Afghan war logs or of the diplomatic cables, Bradley Manning did leak to me information related to ongoing classified counter intelligence operations, which based on my interaction with the United States’ Army and defense authorities, were considered highly sensitive.
GRIFFIN: Yes. You had mentioned to a reporter that in discussions with Manning he told you he was about to be discharged for what was determined to be an adjustment disorder. Can you elaborate on that and whether or not the military may have been on to him as he was contacting you?
LAMO: Actually, as of right now, the military is denying that he was pending discharge. It may have been his impression, but that impression may not have been accurate.
GRIFFIN: Did he feel that eyes were on him? Did he feel that he was being looked at, at the time?
LAMO: I don’t believe that’s the case. In fact, he had approached the local national security agency operative at forward operating base Hammer (ph), where he was stationed, and inquired of them whether or not they had detected any suspicious traffic. And the answer to that was, no, at which point they went back to watching a movie.
So I think he felt that he was fairly safe. The most severe disciplinary action, which he was facing, was a reduction in rank from specialist to private as a result of striking a fellow soldier. And I bring that up not to be prejudicial, but to clear up the discrepancy between stories that are referred to him as a specialist and ones which have referred to him as a private.
GRIFFIN: All right. Adrian Lamo joining us from Sacramento, California.
Thank you for your comments and especially for your patience. Thank you, Adrian.