When Did Adrian Lamo Start Working with Federal Investigators?

The first suspicious moment in the chats between Adrian Lamo and Bradley Manning occurred at 12:54 on May 22–ostensibly the second day of chat communication between them (though Manning had sent Lamo encrypted emails for an unspecified period of time before that point). The BoingBoing version of the logs shows that Manning had just referenced 260,000 cables that, he went on to say, would give Hillary Clinton and other diplomats a heart attack when they were released. The chat was seemingly plagued by 3 minute delays in message transmission, with Lamo’s side reporting resource issues. Lamo tells Manning he’s going for a cigarette–“brb”–but that he should “keep typing.”

(12:54:47 PM) Adrian: What sort of content?
(12:56:36 PM) Adrian: brb cigarette
(12:56:43 PM) Adrian: keep typing <3

It is over 45 minutes before Lamo returns from his “cigarette” at 1:43:51. In the meantime, Manning did as he was told, typing out agonized confessions about how isolated he was. After Lamo returned from his “cigarette,” all the resource issues appear to be fixed and the delay in transmission appears to be gone, with response time in the 9 to 20 second range. It seems likely that Lamo did something other than smoke a cigarette in those 45 minutes. It appears he altered something technical on his side of the chat, chats that Lamo had directed Manning to use instead of encrypted emails.

Upon returning, Lamo immediately reverts back to Manning’s comment just after he left for his “cigarette,” picking up on the reference to diplomatic scandals. Using that as a segue, Lamo asks Manning to prove his bona fides.

(1:43:51 PM) Lamo: back
(1:43:59 PM) Manning: im self medicating like crazy when im not toiling in the supply office (my new location, since im being discharged, im not offically intel anymore)
(1:44:11 PM) Manning: you missed a lot…
(1:45:00 PM) Lamo: what kind of scandal?
(1:45:16 PM) Manning: hundreds of them
(1:45:40 PM) Lamo: like what? I’m genuinely curious about details.
(1:46:01 PM) Manning: i dont know… theres so many… i dont have the original material anymore
(1:46:26 PM) Lamo: play it by ear
(1:46:29 PM) Manning: the broiling one in Germany
(1:47:36 PM) Manning: im sorry, there’s so many… its impossible for any one human to read all quarter-million… and not feel overwhelmed… and possibly desensitized
(1:48:20 PM) Manning: the scope is so broad… and yet the depth so rich
(1:48:50 PM) Lamo: give me some bona fides … yanno? any specifics.

So Manning mentions the cables, Lamo leaves and fixes technical issues on the chat, and Lamo returns to demand specifics about what the 260,000 cables include.

Over the course of that allegedly first substantial conversation, Lamo’s attitude towards Wikileaks varies. He first asks a generic question.

(12:46:17 PM) Adrian: how long have you helped WIkileaks?

He then makes what–from the context of the logs thus far released, at least–appears to be an unsupported insinuation (and one that, given current reports about the Administration’s prosecution strategy, is a critical issue): that Manning “answers to” Julian Assange.

(1:51:14 PM) Lamo: Anything unreleased?
(1:51:25 PM) Manning: i’d have to ask assange
(1:51:53 PM) Manning: i zerofilled the original
(1:51:54 PM) Lamo: why do you answer to him?
(1:52:29 PM) Manning: i dont… i just want the material out there… i dont want to be a part of it

So, in spite of the fact that just two days before this exchange, Lamo had solicited donations for Wikileaks, he still suggested it was a problem if Manning “answered to Julian Assange.”

Lamo then immediately presses a point he would return to numerous times in their chats–a probe about their operational security.

(1:52:54 PM) Adrian: i’ve been considering helping wikileaks with opsec
(1:53:13 PM) bradass87: they have decent opsec… im obviously violating it

Then there’s a gap of about 10 minutes in the published chat logs during which–from the context–further conversation about Assange personally appears to have taken place. Such content is suggested from the way the chat moves from Manning reporting he is a “total fucking wreck” to returning to Manning’s relationship with Assange, with Manning seemingly correcting what appears to have been a Lamo suggestion that he–Manning–is a “volunteer” (remember, Lamo was pretending he wanted to “volunteer” to help Wikileaks with operational security).

(2:04:29 PM) Manning: im a source, not quite a volunteer
(2:05:38 PM) Manning: i mean, im a high profile source… and i’ve developed a relationship with assange… but i dont know much more than what he tells me, which is very little

Again, note how this exchange–Manning’s apparent correction regarding his relationship with Assange–actually hurts the reported current prosecution strategy of painting the Assange-Manning relationship as something other than a journalistic one.

Now, one of the many narratives he would tell about his role in turning Manning in,  Lamo suggested he contacted the military when he heard that Manning had accessed the 260,000 cables (though Lamo’s story varies on what day he contacted the Feds). Which is why I find this sequence–which Wired summarized but did not publish in its own publication of the chat logs–so interesting. All of the narratives about how Lamo came to out Manning to investigators start a day or two after this curious day of activity.

Yet already on this first substantive day of chat logs, Lamo appears to be fixing technical issues in the chat, demanding specific evidence about the cables, and–most suspiciously–presenting seemingly contradictory opinions about Wikileaks and Assange that had the effect of eliciting information about operational specifics and details on Assange’s own role in Wikileaks’ operations.

54 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Based on your “curiousities”, Lamo smells like a Federal undercover plant, and that wouldn’t surprise me given that the last bunch of homegrown “Islamic terrorists” uncovered by the Feds were done in by the very same tactic.

    I’m guessing that tactic is SOP and likely # 1 in the “How to catch folks” syllabus for Federal agents in training.

    • BillyP says:

      Don’t forget the entrapment of the infamous Pizza Gang at Fort Dix.

      Soon after the video was discovered, the FBI had an informant infiltrate the group. Cipparone says the informant egged the group on and tricked them into saying things they really didn’t mean. He said the wiretaps and other evidence will bear that out.

  2. Styve says:

    Glad Marcy is on this! I thought it stank to high hell, and can’t wait for the truth to surface. Agree about the boilerplate nature of these BS terrorism set-ups. I think the Portland case is falling apart with the public defender’s office efforts to implicate the DOJ for improper statements he has made to the press.

    http://www.oregonlive.com had an article on this 12/21, the text of which is below…

    Mohamed Mohamud defense lawyers to Attorney General Eric Holder: Shut up
    Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — Bryan Denson

    Mohamed Mohamud’s defense team has asked a federal judge to put a muzzle on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

    The nation’s top prosecutor has commented publicly at least twice in recent weeks about the criminal case against Mohamud. The 19-year-old Somali-American is accused of plotting to bomb thousands of Christmas revelers at Portland’s Nov. 26 tree-lighting ceremony, a plot thwarted by an undercover FBI sting.

    Defense lawyers Stephen R. Sady and Steven T. Wax filed a motion on Monday asking U.S. District Judge Garr M. King to prohibit government prosecutors from making further comments about the case. They allege that Holder’s public statements violated federal regulations and their client’s constitutional right to due process.

    Prosecutors have not yet filed a response to the motion.

    Mohamud’s defense team wrote in their motion that the Mohamud case already involves high risks regarding pretrial prejudice. They alleged that Holder’s remarks went far beyond general comments about the charges against their client or a discussion of policy issues.

    “By opining on the merits of the case,” they wrote, “the government pollutes the jury pool with inappropriate opinions and prejudgments.”

    The defense team noted that on Nov. 29, Holder told news media that the FBI had acted properly in making their case against Mohamud and rejected the notion that the bureau’s employees had made Mohamud the victim of illegal entrapment. On Dec. 10, the attorney general elaborated on those comments at a civil liberties gathering in San Francisco.

    “Those who characterize the FBI’s activities in this case as ‘entrapment’ simply do not have their facts straight — or do not have a full understanding of the law,” Holder said to the group Muslim Advocates at its annual dinner.

    • PJEvans says:

      Like everyone out here in the real world doesn’t know entrapment when we see it in front of us.

      Holder might as well tell us to clap harder.

  3. PJEvans says:

    I’m wondering if Lamo went off and set up a recording device in that 45 minute ‘smoke’, or if he called his handler. (Not that I think Lamo is exactly a reliable witness. He seems to be flakey.)

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m wondering whether he directed Manning to use the chat so the FBI could follow along (or something like that), but that whatever process they were using to follow along/record it was stalling the messages, so he took a break to have them fix it.

      • Humanist says:

        Generally, no additional or special technology is needed to record an Instant Messaging (IM) chat session.

        Instant Messaging programs such as AIM usually have a setting to Enable/Disable Chat Logging, and the default setting is to enable Chat Logging. In default mode, every time a chat user hits the Enter key during a particular chat session, the message goes to the other user in the chat and simultaneously also goes to the enabled Chat Log for that particular chat session.

        To see the history of his Chat Logs, the user only needs to go to the Chat Log Archive in his Instant Messaging program. The user can select any particular Chat Log of interest in his Archive.

        To make a copy of any particular Chat Log, the user Opens the Chat Log (date and time stamped), Selects All, Copies, and Pastes to a plain-text document (.txt) or a word processing document such as MS Word (.doc).

    • BillyP says:

      He seems to be flakey

      Lamo has been hospitalized for Asperger’s.

      Sometimes called the “geek syndrome,” Asperger’s is a mild form of autism that makes social interactions difficult, and can lead to obsessive, highly focused behavior.

        • BillyP says:

          Agreed, but at the time he was hospitalized his diagnosis was not known. If he was displaying bizarre behavior and the police had no record for him, they would have erred on the side of caution and taken him in for the involuntary 72-hour psych evaluation.

          From the Wired link

          “Talking to strangers was really hard for me,” Lamo says. “I had to script it all in my head and act out normal behaviors in a very conscious way. Essentially, I had to learn how human beings act.”

          it seems like he would have needed an extensive amount of hand-holding to accomplish his task of ensnaring Manning.

      • Humanist says:

        If I recall, it was reported in some online news article that Adrian Lamo was institutionalized for “depression” for two weeks and that [separately] he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s [at some unspecified time, not necessarily during those same two weeks].

        Lamo’s role as a probable undercover informant may be independent of his mental health and reliability as a potential witness, if his main objective in his current assignment his logged Internet Message chats with Manning to get Manning to make incriminating statements and reveal incriminating facts concerning his actions regarding the alleged leaks and concerning his relationship with Assange and Wikileaks.

  4. joanneleon says:

    Did you watch that Swedish documentary “WikiRebels”?

    Here’s a link to Part 4/4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8imkYy_hJ4E&feature=related

    In Part 4/4 (in the YouTube version) there is an interview with the Assange’s former partner, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and some information about the break between them. I think this is interesting, and wonder if Lamo’s comment asking why he answers to Assange, has anything to do with the loyalties of the various Wikileaks players after the break.

    This is just a thought — I haven’t checked the timing to see if it makes sense, and such.

  5. bailey2739 says:

    THANKS Marcy, PLEASE stay on this! It’s not a pretty picture where our Gov’t. is going & hopefully someone, besides Ron Paul, will stand up to outrageous arrogance.

  6. SethK says:

    It strikes me that Adrian Lamo is a government agent of some sort, most likely became one as a condition of his plea bargain. Further, the entire timeline is so full of inconsistencies and suspicious activity as to call into question the very idea that Manning and Lamos had contact at all. It also strikes me that Manning has been surprisingly compliant and docile throughout the entire affaire, almost as though he is a willing player. If indeed, Manning did release these documents, is it possible that he released them on orders from a higher up? Is he a willing patsy who thinks his sacrifice is simply another way to fight for his country? Or has he perhaps been threatened in some way in order to gain his cooperation with the official story? As Letterman would say, ‘this doesn’t pass the smell test.’

    • solerso says:

      not an “agent” , but an informer. Lame-o is a common run of the mill informer. psycologically weak, big shot syndrome, vulnerable to prosecution(as a hacker). He was no doubt approached by the FBI and probably HLS and worked over with the “threats >>> you-can-be-a-hero/big shot” routine. Like a lot of rat-type informants hes a very weak witness. Typically weak rat-wittnesses were why the mob was able to win about 9 out of 10 prosecutions brought against them in their hayday.

    • benmasel says:

      My humch, became a prison snitch after his trial. A few weeks before the Manning chat, he was involuntarily committed by police to a mental hospital, so that he could be re-enlisted.

  7. Fractal says:

    This is awesome work, Marcy. Thank you very much for spending a big chunk of your holiday weekend digging through those transcripts. I would say something about my hopes that the source(s) who have become defendant(s) have access to your analytic insights, but then I would be inviting Lamo & his asshole turncoat double-agent buddies to run surveillance on our beloved FDL.

  8. beowulf says:

    A better question is, when did Adrian Lamo tell Manning he was an ordained minister?

    When people confess to a religious figure that confession is protected by clergy-penitent privilege and cannot be disclosed. Anything said to the fake priest would be inadmissible and any evidence discovered as a result that confession would be suppressed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.

  9. BillyP says:

    “fruit of the poisonous tree”

    That is hilarious!

    According to the Army’s Chief of Chaplains
    Confidentiality is Absolute: NO STATED EXCEPTIONS

    From Greenwald

    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”).

    Somebody buy that FBI prompter a beer. This is the best laugh I had all week!

    • beowulf says:

      Yeah, that is pretty funny. I think the real reason the Army is seeking Manning’s cooperation to make a case against Assange is so they’ll have an excuse to drop the charges against him (Manning) and simply let him walk free when his enlistment expires in October.

      If the Army wants to prosecute Manning, its going to have a hard time getting past the “clergy-penitent privilege” tripwire that Lamo set.

      • Humanist says:

        In addition, Lamo tells Manning that he, Lamo, is a “journalist” and that California, where Lamo resides, has a shield law that protects journalists from having to name or identify their sources.
        Lamo appears to be providing every possible inducement for Manning to feel more comfortable about speaking freely to him.
        There is one other possible additional explanation for Lamo putting Manning “on hold” ostensibly for a cigarette break, and it may have been suggested by his handlers. Putting Manning on hold is a way for Lamo to show Manning that he, Lamo, does not consider their chats urgent or important, so if Manning wants Lamo to continue listening then Manning had better chat about some highly damaging details about his alleged leaks.
        All in all, Lamo the self-styled, very busy, extremely important, hacker-journalist-priest confidante seems to have failed in his assignment based on the chat logs that are available so far.

        • beowulf says:

          Right, I noticed what he said about the California journalist shield law, however there is no federal shield law and since Manning isn’t being tried in a California state court, I think that’s a dry hole for his defense to raise. The federal rules of evidence (both civilian and military) provide a very strong clergy privilege so that’s where Lamo went off the reservation.

          The FBI is pretty sharp about knowing what lines they can cross during an investigation and which they cannot. I can’t imagine any FBI special agent would blow up a big case by directing Lamo to entrap Manning into confessing to federal crimes by using clergy privilege as bait.

          • Humanist says:

            Is “entrapment” a legally relevant defense for Manning?
            If so, then what is the legal definition of entrapment in Manning’s case?
            If Lamo was not actually a priest or was not acting in his role of a priest, then does that prove entrapment?
            If Lamo was not acting in his role of a journalist, does that prove entrapment?
            If Lamo did not tell Manning that he, Lamo, was cooperating with the FBI and Defense Department, does that prove entrapment?
            Lamo reportedly said that Manning was naive, simple, sincere and genuine. Any story or representation that would make the naive Manning feel safe in speaking freely to Lamo could be used if it would not provide Manning with an “entrapment” defense.
            As in all legal cases, the final judgment depends on two factors: the applicable laws, and the legally relevant facts.
            The traditional general Theory of Defense may not include entrapment, but each specific crime consists of a number of elements. If any one of the elements for any particular alleged crime is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt (or other applicable standard of guilt), then the defense prevails on that particular alleged crime.
            If entrapment is not a viable defense for Manning, then his only option may be a plea bargain designed to coerce him into incriminating Assange. Some news articles indicate that Manning is “not cooperating” with the prosecutor, i.e., not accepting any plea bargain, but rather going to trial. If so, this could explain his torture-like extended solitary confinement to break him down mentally through sleep-deprivation and other psychological abuse during pretrial detention.

  10. orionATL says:

    lamo always seemed a likely fed spy,

    but i’m under the impression he has been, or is, mentally unstable.


    let me make a guess at a connection between two possible realities:

    1. the doj/fbi dicks know lamo is unstable and so, when tapes are introduced, lamo might do serious damage to the prosecution by being “unreliable” in his testimony, by which i mean he might blurt out anything.

    2. manning is reputatedly intelligent and articulate and, worst of all for a doj prosecutor, difficult to influence or intimidate, i.e., difficult to get to lie under oath

    3. therefore, manning is subjected to solitary confinement with a hidden but very critical element of sleep deprivarion.

    the point of this severe treatment would be to render manning docile and thereby negate his natural ability to speak in his own defense with respect to the sloppy army security where he worked,

    and with respect to his opinipn that the info he gave wikileaks was, in his words, “public information”.

    so we have the dod and the doj very likely colluding in DELIBERATELY ALTERING the mind of a defendent (in this case, that of a military defendent – because they’re easier to get at).

  11. jimnor says:

    lamo was coerced/lied into working with the feds by a mr Chet Uber. search his name and see what you get. i personally know/knew chet. i knew him during his time in Omaha in 1992-1996. we were not close friends but we saw each other at the Dubliner Pub several times a week and at several other old market bars. we would chat and stuff. he always had interesting info on goings-on in the world and was a serious source of news. i heard things from him that would not be on the news for several weeks. chet was at that time working with state law enforcement agencies all over the US on computer system security and implementation. i know he was working with colorado, missouri an nebraska. i am not surprised that he was involved in getting somebody to turn themselves in tot he feds. not at all.

    chet would roll anybody over to make himself look good in the eyes of his law enforcement masters. no soul on that one, i am afraid.

    • wavpeac says:

      also an Omaha resident with some computer…friends. Question? Did Lamo exhibit signs of his Aspergers as you visited with him? Did he seem odd? overly obsessive or focused? socially inept? Just curious about this because it seems a very odd dx for someone in the fbi? likely would have shown up on entrance psych profiles and stuff.

  12. dakoda says:

    In todays world with todays governments, I am suppose to trust a LOG file?

    How do we know who LAMO was talking to?
    Has the file been edited?
    Who at Wired has this file and what are their reasons for not releasing it?
    Too many questions.

    Just starting to sound like the Nixon’s tapes and the missing 16 mins.

    My question is: Is there any record of these type of uncontrolled files being used in a court case?

  13. jdmckay0 says:

    This is both interesting & bizarre.

    Can’t for the life of me understand why Manning (if he is Wikileaks source) will spill his guts to this “Project Vigilant” bozo. I don’t have a sense there’s any there there. Not so sure Manning is anything other then latest Martha Stewart fall guy.

  14. WilliamOckham says:

    I think the lag was only about a minute or less. Most of the lag perceived by Manning was caused by Lamo not responding immediately. Let’s assume (as a thought experiment) that there is a 30 second delay in both directions for this conversation (which would be a 1 minute lag). All of the reported times come from Lamo’s computer. To get Manning’s view, we would have to subtract 30 seconds from the reported times for messages originating from Manning and add 30 seconds for the ones from Lamo. Also, and this is important, we have to add composition time to Manning’s messages (he writes some very long messages, that takes time). I’m going to use 40wpm as the outside estimate for his typing speed (remember, he’s composing on the fly). That’s about 3.3 characters typed per second. Take a look at the first back and forth between Manning and Lamo. Lamo’s log looks like this:

    (12:22:49 PM) bradass87: the air-gap has been penetrated… =L
    (12:23:19 PM) Adrian: how so?
    (12:26:09 PM) Adrian: yt?
    (12:26:09 PM) bradass87: lets …. =L (394 char msg)
    (12:27:13 PM) bradass87: im here
    (12:27:24 PM) Adrian: Depends. What are the particulars?

    Manning’s view (30 second lag each way)

    (12:22:19 PM) bradass87: the air-gap has been penetrated… =L
    (12:23:49 PM) Adrian: how so?
    (12:25:39 PM) bradass87: lets …. =L (394 char msg)
    (12:26:39 PM) Adrian: yt?
    (12:26:43 PM) bradass87: im here
    (12:27:54 PM) Adrian: Depends. What are the particulars?

    Under this scenario, Manning actually churns out his 400 char reply to ‘how so’ at a better than 40wpm clip. Then, a minute after he hits send, Lamo asks him ‘yt?’ (you there?). Manning immediately (7 secs) responds “im here”. A minute later, he gets back an answer to the question he asked nearly 15 minutes earlier (‘what would you do?’).

    I think the rest of the conversation is pretty consistent with about a 1 minute lag until (as ew pointed out) Lamo gets back from his cigarette break and there is virtually no lag at all.

    Overall, I certainly agree that the questions that Lamo asks sure sound like an informer trying to get a target to incriminate himself.

    • Humanist says:

      Manning could find out how much lag there was in his chat with Lamo if he wanted to verify what Lamo said about lag as his excuse for not replying more quickly. Manning could simply issue a PING command and find out the round-trip time it takes to send a signal to Lamo and get the signal back. Under typical conditions, PING times can be as quick as 1 or 2 seconds. One minute is a relatively long lag time.

  15. bell says:

    some of the details include an overview on lamo and a few others, including Chet Uber mentioned in post 25 here… it throws a completely different light on the data that is selectively being released by wired’s poulson..

  16. stsmytherie says:

    None of this adds up to anything as far as I can figure.

    A) A chat log is a text file. Everything in it, timestamps included, can be added, removed, edited, created from pure fiction.

    B) The delay in communication implies nothing. It could be network congestion. It could be chat participants not paying attention or dividing attention between separate tasks (browsing, coding, eating, phone call, watching TV…) and returning occasionally to continue the conversation. This is not at all uncommon.

    C) It would be relatively trivial for a third party to listen in on the chat, even without active participation of the conversing parties. This also means nothing.

    Maybe I missed some key element in this story over all the handwaving about Poulsen and Lamo. Is there evidence beyond these chatlogs definitively tying Manning to this chat session? Did someone physically observe him typing? Was a corroborating log found on his personal computer (to which only he had access)? Was someone capturing his network traffic or logging keystrokes? I think we need to go to the video.

    From these chat logs alone we know next to nothing beyond what Wired, Lamo and the Feds want us to “know.”

    Computing 101. I am deeply skeptical.

  17. Omooex says:

    What are you implying that the lag means? i know its a pretty straightforward question. If you’re going to make it the center piece of your article, then you need to explain why its so important.

  18. Humanist says:


    Legal “entrapment” appears to apply only to crimes, not to confessions of crimes, if a Miranda warning or Mirnanda rights are legally relevant in the particular case. Thus, the reported AIM chat logs between Manning and Lamo may be inadmissible at any court martial or trial of Manning.

    Excerpt from wikipedia.com:

    The Miranda warning (also referred to as Miranda rights) is a warning that is required to be given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to inform them about their constitutional rights. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court of the United States held that an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was informed of the right to decline to make self-incriminatory statements and the right to legal counsel (hence the so-called “Miranda rights”), and makes a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of those rights.[Note 1] The Miranda warning is not a condition of detention, but rather a safeguard against self-incrimination; as a result, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may still interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person’s statements to incriminate him or her in a criminal trial.

    It is not clear when, if ever, the arresting military police or other police officers first read Manning his Miranda rights.

    • beowulf says:

      Wasn’t a custodial interrogation because Manning wasn’t “in custody” (more than any other soldier on active duty I suppose) when he made those statements. Actually sharing classified information with Lamo himself was a crime, so enticing him to spill his guts by promises of legal privilege (by use of a fake minister ruse) was entrapment.

      However, the bigger issue it raises is illegal search and seizure, since the government made use of text logs of a conversation that Manning thought was privileged.

      • bmaz says:

        I have no idea why people are biting off on the thought that the clergy/penitent privilege attaches. Where is the evidence Lamo is any kind of officially ordained minister? Why would it be reasonable for Manning to believe Lamo was a functioning ordained minister? Religious penitence and/or advice was NOT why Manning contacted Lamo or vice versa. Statements made on AOL IM are not necessarily private and confidential. There is no indicia in the logs I have seen that could support the element that the conversations were within the proper course and scope of a religious discipline. If I were defending Manning, would I raise the privilege as a defense? Sure, but not a chance in hell that I would think it would succeed.

  19. jfaustus says:

    Longtime reader here, mostly lurk. Glad to see you on this story. We need minds like yours and Glenzilla’s probing this murkiness. Hope you keep at it!

  20. Humanist says:

    The reported AIM chat logs between Lamo and Manning include a few statements by Manning regarding his poor state of mind and mental health. That in itself could justify caution in interpreting anything that Manning reportedly said to Lamo.

    When detained at the Quantico Confinement Facility, Manning was reportedly put on Suicide Watch and then soon changed to “Prevention of Injury” (POI) watch. One news article suggested that POI Watch was one level of Suicide Watch.

    The first ten pages of the returns in a Google search for the phrase ‘”Prevention of Injury” POI Order’, includes Manning in every item. It would seem that Manning is the only person to ever be put on a POI order by the military.

    For more about the psychological evaluations at Marine Base Quantico, go to the following link and scroll down to find the referenced document:


    Publish Date: May-20-2010

    The 10-page Adobe PDF file (download link) is quite informative, but it does not explicitly mention “Prevention of Injury”, POI, or “suicide watch”.

  21. beowulf says:

    Where is the evidence Lamo is any kind of officially ordained minister?
    if you want to be technical, its the Doctor Reverend Adrian A. Lamo, Ph.D . . Doctor of Divinity and minister through the Universal Life Church, the grandma of all diploma mills everywhere…

    Religious penitence and/or advice was NOT why Manning contacted Lamo or vice versa… There is no indicia in the logs I have seen that could support the element that the conversations were within the proper course and scope of a religious discipline.
    The United States Army is a little more broad-minded spiritually than you (I kid I kid). While its true that “priest-penitent privilege” first arose from the Catholic rite of confession, under MRE 503 the privileged communication isn’t restricted to “a formal act of religion”, it can also concern “a matter of conscience”.

    Statements made on AOL IM are not necessarily private and confidential.
    By that logic, no telephone conversation with clergy could be privileged because the possibility of police wiretap means that phone calls are not necessarily private and confidential. MRE 503 defines “Confidential” as

    A communication is “Confidential” if made to a clergyman in the clergyman’s capacity as a spiritual advisor… and is not intended to be disclosed to third persons…

    Manning is the privilege holder, if he didn’t intend for anyone else to read along then the communication is confidential. It doesn’t matter if Lamo was allowing an entire field office of FBI agents to read along, he didn’t have authority to waive Manning’s privilege.

    This Army training program, “Protection of Confidential Communications Between Unit Ministry Team Members And Military Constituents” is first rate. Its like the Chief of Chaplains says bmaz, Confidentiality is Absolute: NO STATED EXCEPTIONS. :o) (MRE 503 starts on page 10).

    • bmaz says:

      And exactly how does ULC qualify? I think that pretty much proves my point; ULC “ordination” should be laughed out of any court, and almost always is (even the parent org has a hard time maintaining religious tax status); internet “ministers upon application” are a joke a do not hold water for FRE purposes.

      Irrespective of the liberal nature of the military with respect to application of the privilege, the standard is the penitent seeking that purpose; it does not appear Manning was or that the mention by Lamo was anything other than a ruse.

      I will maybe grant your third point regarding confidentiality. I don’t think anybody of sane mind would think anything involving AOL is confidential, much less their IM, but arguably that point could fly I guess. But, based on what I have seen to date, no way a competent court is granting “minister” status to Lamo and I would have a very hard time seeing how one could say Manning initially sought Lamo for religious purposes. I don’t care how broad the MREs are, this looks bogus to me. As I said, I would argue it, would never expect to do so successfully.

      • beowulf says:

        The issue is not whether Lamo is a minister, its whether Manning thought he was and whether he shared information related to “a matter of conscience”, I think he did. Whether or the ULC gives away ordinations free with every box of crackjacks, by Manning (truthfully it seems) asserting he was an ordained minister and that what Manning told him would remain confidential, Lamo may have induced Manning to rely on this promise to his detriment. Lamo should be estopped from breaching privilege if his promise was a factor in inducing the disclosure of incriminating facts.

        If Lamo was not ordained, then its a question of whether Manning reasonably believed him to be a minister, since Lamo apparently is ordained, there’s still privilege even if Manning unreasonably believed him to be a minister).

        I do take your point on the likelihood of success with that defense if the case went to general court-martial, “inevitable discovery” covers many many sins. :o)

        • bmaz says:

          Inevitable discovery, while true, is irrelevant. Your conclusory statement that Lamo “apparently is ordained” is not supported in the least by how courts across the legal spectrum treat the nonsense ULC “ordinations”. They are a joke. You also continue to fail to address the fact that clergy/penitent communication clearly does not seem to be the reason Manning sought Lamo out (if it is even true that Manning sought Lamo out as opposed to the other way around). I also do not find it credible that Manning could reasonable believe Lamo was an “ordained minister” and have relied on that assertion. I have seen no convincing evidence in the logs that Manning relied on this horseshit as his reason for talking to Lamo; in fact, if anything, it appears quite clear that Manning did not. It just does not hold water.

          • fatster says:

            bmaz, I don’t know if you have the time, but it would be great if you–or one of the lawyers around here–would expound a bit on this for those of us who are not lawyers. Thnx.

            Another Apple Falls From the WikiLeaks Tree
            When Is an Internet Takedown Justified?

            First Amendment Limits Government’s Power to Force Companies to Remove Content
            At the same time, our First Amendment strictly limits the power of the government to force companies to take down content.


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