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Lamo’s Two (?!) Laptops

In the original story about Adrian Lamo’s involuntary hospitalization, he loses his medication and calls the cops.

Last month Adrian Lamo, a man once hunted by the FBI, did something contrary to his nature. He picked up a payphone outside a Northern California supermarket and called the cops.

Someone had grabbed Lamo’s backpack containing the prescription anti-depressants he’d been on since 2004, the year he pleaded guilty to hacking The New York Times. He wanted his medication back. But when the police arrived at the Safeway parking lot it was Lamo, not the missing backpack, that interested them. Something about his halting, monotone speech, perhaps slowed by his medication, got the officers’ attention.

But in Ryan Singel’s telling of it, Lamo lost his laptop.

For instance, you make it sound creepy that Poulsen wrote a long profile about Lamo. Huh. Read the story again. Basically, it goes like this. A convicted hacker, now gone legit, calls the police to report a stolen laptop. When the police arrive, instead of focussing on the crime, they 5150 the victim.

I find that rather interesting for several reasons.

First, because the larger story ends with Lamo losing his laptop, too.

Agents from the Army’s criminal and counter-intelligence units and the Diplomatic Security Service met with Lamo on Friday night, Lamo said. The agents asked for files related to the communications between him and Manning, Lamo said, and he gave them a laptop and the hard drive from another laptop, as well as encrypted e-mails that had been stored on a remote server. Lamo said he is scheduled to give a sworn statement to authorities on Sunday.

So is the laptop the authorities took (and the hard drive from another one) a new laptop, purchased to replace the one that got taken? Another one that Lamo had lying about at home?

And then there’s this detail: the PGP key Lamo “no longer had access to” when Bradley Manning first tried to contact Lamo via encrypted email.

GREENWALD: And so the first contact he made with you, was that be email or was that some other way?

LAMO: [Sound of rustling papers] First contact was by email.

GREENWALD: And can you tell me generally what he said?

LAMO: I can’t unfortunately. It’s cryptographically impossible since he encrypted it to an outdated PGP key of mine.

GREENWALD: So were you unable to understand what he said in that first email?

LAMO: Correct. First, second, and third at the very least. I get a lot of random email and the hassle of decrypting it even if I had the key would be enough to push it back about a week or so in my “to read” stack.

GREENWALD: Right. So when you got this email that you were incapable of deciphering did you respond to him in some way, or what did you do?

LAMO: I ignored it for the first couple of hours and then I received a few subsequent emails and then I finally replied, “Hey I can’t read your emails encrypted to a PGP key I no longer have access to. Why don’t we chat via AOL IM instead?”

And finally there are the number of hackers who have had their laptops confiscated (though usually as part of a border crossing) of late.

It’s just a data point. But the story of Lamo being involuntarily hospitalized in response to reporting having his laptop taken is a whole lot different than it is if he has just had his drugs taken away.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Pulling Some Threads on Lamo’s Inconsistencies

In her post laying out the many inconsistencies in Adrian Lamo’s account of turning in Bradley Manning, Jane says:

I only see two possibilities.  One, Wired had the chat logs before Lamo made any calls to authorities, and was a party to whatever subsequently happened.  Or two, the copies of the chat logs that have been given to the press have been done so at the instigation of the US government, and with their full approval.

Of course there’s always c) all of the above, which is what I’m guessing is the most likely scenario.

I’m not entirely sure those are the only possibilities.

To my mind, there are several questions that remain entirely unanswered:

  • When did Lamo and Manning start communicating?
  • When and through whom did Lamo contact authorities (or, did authorities find him and not vice versa)?
  • How does that relate to other dates, such as Manning’s arrest, and when did the arrest happen?

Just as a threshold issue, I think the only source dating the beginning of the Lamo-Manning conversation to May 20 is Lamo, claimed in his conversation with Glenn and with the NYT. Particularly given his squirreliness about the encrypted emails Manning sent him before they started chatting on AIM, not to mention some odd details about their earliest chats, I see no reason to treat that claim uncritically.

Then there’s Manning’s arrest date, which Lamo claimed to be May 26 based on a conversation he described to Wired having with the FBI on May 27. But Manning’s charging documents seem to say Manning’s alleged actions continued until May 27 and he was arrested on May 29. Moreover, the time lapse on the chat logs may well suggest that Lamo and Manning were chatting past the time Lamo claims the FBI told him Manning had been arrested. If, as seems almost certain, Lamo was wrong about Manning’s arrest date, we need to ask whether he is hiding his own actions (perhaps, at the direction of the Feds, Lamo got Manning to send him classified documents on May 27, but he doesn’t want to admit that publicly) or whether the Feds misled Lamo.

There seem to be at least four or five versions of how and through whom Manning contacted authorities:

Version 1: Lamo told his father that Manning was the source for the Collateral Murder video (not the diplomatic cables) and his father pressured him to contact the government (the subsequent contact may or may not have been done through Chet Uber).

Version 2: In response to learning about the 260,000 State cables (which the chat logs portray as happening on May 22), Lamo reached out to his “ex” who “worked” for Army counterintelligence.

Version 3: In response to learning about the 260,000 cables, Lamo contacted Chet Uber (as one of a number of people he contacted) one or two days before he first met with the Feds on May 25. CJR’s timeline based on conversations with Kevin Poulsen dates Lamo’s first contact with the Feds before May 24, his first meeting with them on May 25, and his second meeting on May 27.

Version 4: Another version of Uber’s story says Lamo first contacted him in early June, which would have placed it after Manning’s arrest.

Version 5: Lamo contacted Timothy Webster (who is not explicitly identified as Lamo’s ex and who is portrayed as formerly, not currently, working in counterintelligence) on May 26 and told him that Manning was the source for the Collateral Murder video. Of course this scenario would put his Webster contact after his first contacts with the Feds, per Wired.

And none of these versions make any mention of the top secret ongoing op that Manning reportedly leaked to Lamo.

Now, I lay all these versions out not to impugn anyone’s reporting. After all, only Webster claims to be certain when his contact with Lamo happened. Uber admits he is uncertain (though the May and June dates obviously conflict significantly). And Lamo has been careful to note he had contacts with people outside of the Project Vigilant chain, which presumably includes but may not be limited to Webster.

But it does open up the possibility that there were several levels of contact here: a first one from his father, encouraging him to go to the Feds about the Collateral Murder video, a second one–of indefinite time frame–that went through Project Vigilant, and a third (and possibly fourth) that went through counterintelligence people. Furthermore, remember there are at least four investigative agencies: Army counterintelligence, Army CID, which is reported to have the lead on the Manning investigation, Diplomatic Security, which according to Manning was investigating the Rejkjavik cable going back to February, and the FBI. Note, too, that another version of Lamo’s story describes him worried about the FBI agents “knocking at the door” and implication in obstruction of justice; if any of these investigative agencies were investigating Lamo, the FBI would seem to be the most logical one.

So let’s just imagine another scenario. Read more

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

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.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Gawker Coughs Up a Misleading Hairball On Bradley Manning

By now you have probably heard of the serious issue regarding the dehumanizing and mentally debilitating conditions of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial detention by the US Military. Glenn Greenwald has written on the nature and import of the conditions, our own Dr. Jeff Kaye has described the medical and psychological harm from such tactics, as has Atul Gawande, and the UN Special Rapporteur has announced an investigation.

Into this serious legal, medical and psychiatric topic has stepped, of all sources, Gawker Media and its contributor John Cook with a condescending article titled “Bradley Manning Would Like Softer Blankets, Exercise, and More Television“. It is clearly a topic Cook and Gawker ought to leave to better informed and relevantly trained reporters.

Cook goes through several issues that have been noted about Manning’s detention including bedding, exercise availability and access to newspapers and television news, and casually dismisses them all individually with trite questions such as “does it sound like torture to you?”, “is it that big a deal, all things considered?”, and “is it the stuff of a U.N. investigation?”.

First off, Cook fails to consider the cumulative effect of those issues. Much more importantly, however, Cook completely ignores and fails to discuss the most important issue in the complaints about Manning’s detention conditions, the extreme isolation and sleep deprivation. This, however, is not a cute subject and should not be treated as fluff by Gawker. Dr. Jeff Kaye relates exactly how serious the isolation (which in Manning’s case must also be coupled with intentional sleep deprivation) can be on a subject such as Manning:

Solitary confinement is an assault on the body and psyche of an individual. It deprives him of species-specific forms of physical, sensory and social interaction with the environment and other human beings. Manning reported last weekend he had not seen sunlight in four weeks, nor does he interact with other people but a few hours on the weekend. The human nervous system needs a certain amount of sensory and social stimulation to retain normal brain functioning. The effects of this deprivation on individuals varies, and some people are affected more severely or quickly, while others hold out longer against the boredom and daily grind of dullness that never seems to end.

Over time, isolation produces a particular well-known syndrome which is akin to that of an organic brain disorder, or delirium. The list of possible effects upon a person is quite long, and can include an inability to tolerate ordinary stimuli, sleep and appetite disturbances, primitive forms of thinking and aggressive ruminations, perceptual distortions and hallucinations, agitation, panic attacks, claustrophobia, feelings of loss of control, rage, paranoia, memory loss, lack of concentration, generalized body pain, EEG abnormalities, depression, suicidal ideation and random, self-destructive behavior.

Most telling of the disingenuous and uninformed nature of the Cook/Gawker article is its critical reliance on irrelevant and misleading data from an impertinent study. Cook cites a University of Pennsylvania study on prison isolation:

But the bottom line is that there is nothing even remotely unusual about the conditions under which Manning is currently confined. There are literally thousands of people—by one estimate as many as 20,000 [pdf]—in this country in solitary confinement right now. It is a distressingly routine technique. To the extent that it is inhumane, illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of international law—which it may be—there are thousands of people in line ahead of Manning awaiting their U.N. investigations.

Gawker describes 20,000 people in solitary confinement in the US and equates them with Manning without noting the source they are citing is describing only prisoners that have been convicted, and most all of whom have factual circumstances requiring segregation. Manning is being held pre-trial, is presumed innocent and free and should not, according to consistent law, be imposed on or restricted any more than necessary to secure his appearance in court and safety.

In fact, there is statutory authority directly on point to this effect, Article 13, UCMJ, prohibits: (1) intentional imposition of punishment on an accused before his or her guilt is established at trial; and (2) arrest or pretrial confinement conditions that are more rigorous than necessary to ensure the accused’s presence at trial (See: United States v. Crawford, 62 M.J. 411).

I immediately notified Gawker of this critical error in their article by a response to their Twitter announcement of its publication. Gawker has not seen fit to correct their misleading and scurrilous article. Whether Gawker has the common decency to admit it or not, there is a huge difference, both legally and morally, between presumed innocent citizens being held pre-trial and convicted criminals with needs for specialized segregation or punishment. Bradley Manning is the former, not the latter.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Speaking of that Beacon of Hope in Iraq

Mark Hosenball first reported this back in July, then linked back to that report last week. But given yesterday’s post on our what we’ve accomplished in Iraq, I thought it worth noting that the most inflammatory material in the next big Wikileaks dump–which appears to be the Iraq war log Bradley Manning leaked–reportedly pertains to Iraqi abuse of detainees.

According to one of the sources, the Iraq material portrays U.S. forces being involved in a “bloodbath,” but some of the most disturbing material relates to the abusive treatment of detainees not by Americans but by Iraqi security forces, the source says.

We’ll see whether that material has the kind of impact that the Abu Ghraib revelations had.

But that also suggests that we’re prosecuting Bradley Manning–among other things–for leaking information on the torture our client state in Iraq conducts.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

What Changes Did Obama Just Make to Courts Martial?

In 30 days, changes to Part II (Rules) and IV (Punitive Articles) of the Courts Martial Manual will go into effect. Only, we don’t know what those changes are because the annex that describes them appears to be classified.

All we get is this Executive Order noting the change–and explaining that nothing in yesterday’s order affects acts or legal actions that took place before the EO goes into effect in 30 days.

(a) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to make punishable any act done or omitted prior to the effective date of this order that was not punishable when done or omitted.

(b) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to invalidate any nonjudicial punishment proceedings, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial in which arraignment occurred, or other action begun prior to the effective date of this order, and any such nonjudicial punishment, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial, or other action may proceed in the same manner and with the same effect as if these amendments had not been prescribed.

I’m particularly interested in this because of two recent high profile events: the Nidal Hasan attack–the report on which DOD just released–and Bradley Manning’s arrest. Both might precipitate some changes in the handling of courts martial, charges, and the handing of charges.

But it’s not clear how.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Did Adrian Lamo Have Two Days Worth of IM’s with Bradley Manning on May 25?

As I noted in my earlier post on Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning’s charging document, there’s an apparent discrepancy between the timing Wired gives for Manning’s arrest and what the charging document shows. Wired said that the FBI told Adrian Lamo on May 27 that Manning had been arrested the previous day–that is, May 26.

At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, FBI agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army CID investigators.

But the charging documents actually says Manning’s alleged activities continued until “on or about 27 May 2010,” and it says his pretrial detention started on May 29 (though see scribe’s comments on a possible explanation).

And as I pointed out in comments, there’s also a problem with the story Lamo gave Wired as to why he turned in Manning. He claimed he turned in Manning because he had told him he had already leaked 260,000 cables to Wikileaks.

Lamo decided to turn in Manning after the soldier told him that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables. Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army CID investigators and the FBI to pass the agents a copy of the chat logs from his conversations with Manning.

But the charging document only accuses Manning of leaking [more than] 50 cables; it alleges he got information from [more than] 150,000 cables, but did not even load the cables onto his own computer. Now, Wired has repeatedly published a quote from Manning telling Lamo that he had leaked the quarter-million cables.

But the most startling revelation was a claim that he gave Wikileaks a database of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, which Manning said exposed “almost-criminal political back dealings.”

“Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning told Lamo in an online chat session.

But they didn’t include that quote in their publication of what they claimed to be all the chat logs, save those that revealed personal information about Manning or classified information. Note, WaPo published a longer version of the same quote after Wired first published it. It appears that such a quote would have fit in the chat logs on May 22 (Manning says, “Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed”–note the WaPo includes an ellipses here Wired does not that may indicate IM breaks–and in the May 22 log Lamo asks “what kind of scandal”), but for some reason, Wired didn’t include it there. He may well have said it and said it on May 22, but out of context, we don’t know whether Manning was talking about around 50 cables–what he is accused of leaking–or all 260,000, or the [more than] 150,000 that he is accused of having accessed. And we don’t know whether Manning really did claim to have already leaked the cables–the context doesn’t say he did (though Manning’s list of things he leaked in the very last IMs seem to include some State Department cables).

Which is why I find another oddity of the Wired publication of the chat logs so funky.

Look at the chat logs for May 25–according to Wired, the day before Manning was arrested. They start at 2:03:10 AM (you can tell from the May 23 chat logs that the times are for Lamo, presumably in CA) and go through 2:32:53 AM. They start again at 2:26:01 PM, then go through 3:12:16 PM. Then–at least as Wired presents them–they start again at 1:52:30 PM and go in spurts through 4:46:29 PM. That is, though Wired has presented the IM logs for all other days in straight chronological order, they have no done so for May 25. The chronology starts, goes through 3:12:16 PM, then goes back in time and starts again at 1:52:30. The time sequences overlap.

Now even assuming there’s nothing funky about that, if Lamo were in CA, an IM he received at almost 5 PM on May 25 would be 3 AM Iraq time on May 26, very early on the day Lamo says Manning was arrested.

But the only way that would be true is if Wired segmented and rearranged the IM chats for some reason of narrative. I’ve shown what all the overlapping IM logs in question would look like below the fold (the “parts” refer to the order in which they first appear in the Wired post). But the following chunks of IM discussion–combining the section that Wired presents 5th with that it presents 2nd–would be combined as follows (everything from part 2 is underlined):

Part 2 (underlined)/Part 5 continued

(02:26:01 PM) Manning: i dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore… i only a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless

(02:26:18 PM) Manning: s/only/only see/

(02:26:18 PM) Manning: because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge

(02:26:47 PM) Lamo: the tm meant i was being facetious

(02:26:55 PM) Manning: if its out in the open… it should be a public good

(02:26:59 PM) Manning: gotchya

(02:27:04 PM) Manning: *do the

(02:27:23 PM) Manning: rather than some slimy intel collector

(02:27:47 PM) Manning: i mean, we’re better in some respects… we’re much more subtle… use a lot more words and legal techniques to legitimize everything

(02:28:00 PM) Manning: its better than disappearing in the middle of the night

(02:28:19 PM) Manning: but just because something is more subtle, doesn’t make it right

(02:29:04 PM) Manning: i guess im too idealistic

(02:29:18 PM) Manning: im crazy like that

This order is not implausible–everything sort of flows. But there are signs that Part 5 and Part 2 did not happen simultaneously. Manning’s good versus evil comment at 2:26:01 is not entirely out of place, but it’s a big non sequitur from the comment less than 2 minutes earlier. This order would require Manning to have typed two IMs in one second at 2:26:18 which seems unlikely if not impossible for reasons of computer speed and human typing skills. Lamo’s “tm” comment at 2:26:19 appears to refer to a comment Wired didn’t replicate in any case. Furthermore, elsewhere Manning always corrects typos in the IM directly after the one in which he makes an error. But the typo “it should be a public good” at 2:26:55 and the correction “it should do the public good” at 2:27:04 would be split by the interjection “gotchya.” Plus those two comments with the interjection “gotchya” at 2:26:59 are quicker–all three in nine seconds–than almost any other series that Wired published (aside from the two IMs in one second already noted).

In other words, I can’t prove it, but it is likely those 2 chunks of IM were not simultaneous, suggesting those 5 chunks of text did not happen on the same day or their timestamps are wrong. Which in turn suggests they didn’t all come from May 25. And if they didn’t, one likely possibility is that Wired did publish the IM chats in sequence, but simply didn’t label ones from a different day–most likely, either the first series came form May 24 or the second series came from May 26–with that different day.

Now, that introduces two problems into the narrative as captured by CJR. If the IMs starting with what I’ve labeled as part 1 were actually sent May 24, it would mean Lamo was asking whether Manning suspected Army CID of investigating before–apparently–he ever talked to Kevin Poulsen about Manning. That’s not fatal for the story–but it does seem to show Lamo asking probing questions in the service of law enforcement before he first talks to Poulsen about Manning.

The other alternative is even more problematic for their story. If the second series of IMs labeled as May 25 actually came from May 26, it would mean the latest ones–which appear to have reached Lamo in late afternoon on May 26–would have been sent in Iraq in the early hours of May 27, suggesting that the story that Manning was arrested on May 26 was not correct (though that does seem to correlate better with the charging document).

All this may not be a big deal. It may be that the full series of the IMs make sense in full context. It may be that the apparent discrepancy between the Wired report and the charging document are either not discrepancies at all or not very interesting to the story.

But there does appear to be something funky here.

Update: “More than” added to references to numbers of cables per scribe.


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Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Wikileaks Leaker Bradley Manning Finally Charged

The government has finally charged Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks leaker. He is charged with two counts of violating the UCMJ, one related to loading onto his own unsecure computer a set of information and adding unauthorized software to a military network computer, and the other related to accessing and passing information onto someone not entitled to have it.

I find the charge sheet particularly interesting for two reasons. What the government says that Manning did with the material he accessed, and an apparent discrepancy between the government’s depiction of the timing and Wired’s depiction of it.

What the government knows about what Manning did with the information

First, it describes the information he accessed differently as follows:

  • The video of the July 12, 2007 Apache killing of Reuters journalists (obtained via unauthorized access, loaded onto his unsecured computer, transmitted to someone unauthorized to receive it)
  • The Rejkjavik State Department cable leaked by WikiLeaks (obtained via unauthorized access, transmitted to someone unauthorized to receive it)
  • 50 State Department cables (loaded onto his unsecured computer, transmitted to someone unauthorized to receive them)
  • 150,000 State Department cables (obtained information from them via unauthorized access)
  • A classified Microsoft Powerpoint presentation (obtained via unauthorized access, loaded onto his computer)

Now, these details are interesting for more than the way they add up to what might be a 52-year sentence if convicted of all of them. They may reflect what the government knows about Manning’s activities.

Note, first of all, the absence of any reference to the Gharani video, which Wikileaks also claims to have but has not yet released, and which Manning claimed to have passed onto Wikileaks. That may suggest that the government doesn’t have evidence tying Manning to the leak of that video (as opposed to the Iraqi one). It may suggest someone entirely different leaked it to Wikileaks. Or it may simply suggest the video wasn’t successfully leaked (which I raise because of the possibility that the government may have managed to sabotage an attempted leak).

Next, note how the charge sheet treats the diplomatic cables differently. The charge sheet traces the Rekjkjavik cable via Manning’s alleged unauthorized access, loaded onto his computer, and transmitted to someone unauthorized to receive it. It alleges 50 State Department cables (which may or may not include the Rejkjavik one) were loaded onto Manning’s computer and transmitted to someone unauthorized to receive them.That means the government has some kind of proof that 50 cables were transmitted. That’s particularly curious given that, on May 22, Manning told Adrian Lamo that he would have to ask Julian Assange to learn if he had leaked anything beyond the Rejkjavik cable.

(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

(1:46:18 PM) Manning: uhmm… the Holy See and its position on the Vatican sex scandals

(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.

(1:49:40 PM) Manning: this one was a test: Classified cable from US Embassy Reykjavik on Icesave dated 13 Jan 2010

(1:50:30 PM) Manning: the result of that one was that the icelandic ambassador to the US was recalled, and fired

(1:51:02 PM) Manning: thats just one cable…

(1:51:14 PM) Lamo: Anything unreleased?

(1:51:25 PM) Manning: i’d have to ask assange

So if the government charged that Manning leaked 50 cables, it presumably didn’t come from his own confession, unless he leaked those cables to someone after May 22. That means they either got proof from Wikileaks that it received the cables, Manning leaked the cables after May 22, or someone else (Lamo?) received the cables and therefore offered proof they got leaked.

So there are 50 cables that got leaked, which have not yet been released to the public yet which the government is sufficiently certain have been leaked so as to charge Manning with that leak.

Then the charge sheet alleges that Manning obtained information from 150,000 State Department cables. Read more

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

Cables on Church Sex Scandal among those Sent to Wikileaks

Threat Level posted a quarter of the chat logs between alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning and hacker Adrian Lamo (it didn’t post those with particularly personal or potentially dangerous national security information).

While the logs don’t provide many details about what was in the 260,000 State Department cables that has the government so spooked, they do reveal that some of the cables pertain to the Vatican’s position on the Church’s sex scandals.

(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
(1:46:18 PM) Manning: uhmm… the Holy See and its position on the Vatican sex scandals
(1:46:26 PM) Lamo: play it by ear
(1:46:29 PM) Manning: the broiling one in Germany

Sort of makes you wonder why the State Department is discussing what the Vatican thinks about its pedophile priests, doesn’t it? Unless of course our government is tapping the Pope to keep tracks on the Church’s pedophiles…

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.