The Army intelligence analyst ‘boasted’ of leaking three specific other items to Wikileaks and over 250,000 embassy cables, including video of a massacre in Afghanistan that is yet to be released. Kim Zetter, who broke the story at Wired, was interviewed at Russia Today (5:47):
Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was arrested its Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) two weeks ago in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was stationed, Kevin Poulson and Kim Zetter reported at Wired, late last night. A family member says he is held captive in Kuwait without charges filed against him—a claim that has since been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
They add that confirmation of Spc. Manning’s whistleblower role has not been confirmed by Wikileaks, nor by the State Department or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) to Wired. An Army spokesperson, “unaware of the investigation”—according to the report—said: “If you have a security clearance and wittingly or unwittingly provide classified info to anyone who doesn’t have security clearance or a need to know, you have violated security regulations and potentially the law.”
Since the Wired post, a statement from the Pentagon was posted by Mark Memmott at the National Public Radio “Two-Way” blog, confirming that Spc. Manning was in captivity by the U.S. Army. “He was placed in pre-trial confinement for allegedly releasing classified information and is currently confined in Kuwait,” the statement reads. (h/t: Robert Mackey)
Spc. Manning was “turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online” to whom he “boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks”, they report. One of the videos reportedly leaked by him was the 2007 video of what’s been dubbed as the “West Baghdad Massacre”, where well over a dozen civilians—including a Reuters photojournalist—were gunned down from a helicopter, firing “indiscriminately”. Wikileaks released the video in April,under the title, Collateral Murder.
The Wired report adds that “he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession”. Garani (also translated as “Granai”) is a village in the Afghan province of Farah, south of Herat, where, in 2009, U.S. warplanes repeatedly dropped bombs, killing up to 147 civilians—including up to 95 children. The operation has been dubbed the “Granai Massacre” and Wikileaks editor Julian Assange has reported a video in his possession of a massacre in Afghanistan from 2009, which is yet to be released, that his team is working on.
The other two specific items reportedly leaked were: a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing ‘almost criminal political back dealings’, ” Mr. Poulson and Ms. Zetter add.
Of his “boasting”, they continue:
“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 wrote.
Manning came to the attention of the F.B.I. and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail. Lamo had just been the subject of a Wired.com article. Very quickly in his exchange with the ex-hacker, Manning claimed to be the Wikileaks video leaker.
“If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?” Manning asked.
From the chat logs provided by Lamo, and examined by Wired.com, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. He discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.
When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army C.I.D. investigators and the F.B.I. at a Starbucks near his house in Carmichael, California, where he passed the agents a copy of the chat logs. At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, F.B.I. agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army C.I.D. investigators.
Manning told Lamo that he enlisted in the Army in 2007 and held a Top Secret/SCI clearance, details confirmed by his friends and family members. He claimed to have been rummaging through classified military and government networks for more than a year and said that the networks contained “incredible things, awful things … that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington D.C.”
He first contacted Wikileaks’ Julian Assange sometime around late November last year, he claimed, after Wikileaks posted 500,000 pager messages covering a 24-hour period surrounding the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. “I immediately recognized that they were from an N.S.A. database, and I felt comfortable enough to come forward,” he wrote to Lamo. He said his role with Wikileaks was “a source, not quite a volunteer.”
“At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter,” Manning wrote of the video. “No big deal… about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it.”
In January, while on leave in the U.S., Manning visited a close friend in Boston and confessed he’d gotten his hands on unspecified sensitive information, and was weighing leaking it, according to the friend. “He wanted to do the right thing,” says 20-year-old Tyler Watkins. “That was something I think he was struggling with.”
Manning passed the video to Wikileaks in February, he told Lamo. After April 5 when [Collateral Murder] was released and made headlines Manning contacted Watkins from Iraq asking him about the reaction in the U.S.
“He would message me, Are people talking about it?… Are the media saying anything?,” Watkins said. “That was one of his major concerns, that once he had done this, was it really going to make a difference?… He didn’t want to do this just to cause a stir. … He wanted people held accountable and wanted to see this didn’t happen again.”
Watkins doesn’t know what else Manning might have sent to Wikileaks. But in his chats with Lamo, Manning took credit for a number of other disclosures.
Lamo says he felt he had no choice but to turn in Manning, but that he’s now concerned about the soldier’s status and well-being. The F.B.I. hasn’t told Lamo what charges Manning may face, if any.
The agents did tell Lamo that he may be asked to testify against Manning. The Bureau was particularly interested in information that Manning gave Lamo about an apparently-sensitive military cybersecurity matter, Lamo said.
That seemed to be the least interesting information to Manning, however. What seemed to excite him most in his chats was his supposed leaking of the embassy cables. He anticipated returning to the states after his early discharge, and watching from the sidelines as his action bared the secret history of U.S. diplomacy around the world.
Wired contacted Spc. Manning’s aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, who said she had recenltly lost contact with her nephew, until Saturday. She said that he “told her that he was okay, but that he couldn’t discuss what was going on” and “gave her his Facebook password and asked her to post a message on his behalf”, according to the report.
The message: “Some of you may have heard that I have been arrested for disclosure of classified information to unauthorized persons. See CollateralMurder.com.”
Sunday, an Army defense attorney reached Ms. Van Alstyne “and said Manning is being held in protective custody in Kuwait”. She adds that her nephew has not seen his file or been charged, but said, “He does understand that it does have to do with that Collateral Murder video.”
A Wikileaks spokesperson could not confirm the identity of Spc. Manning as a source, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate report at The Washington Post, adding:
The spokesman, Daniel Schmitt, said Wikileaks typically does not know the identities of the people who send documents and photos to the Web site. But he said the organization maintains that it is illegal to prosecute someone for trying to expose government corruption or injustice. Schmitt said Wikileaks’ legal advisers are specifically reviewing whether an arrest of a whistleblower violates laws in Sweden and Belgium, two countries in which the site operates.
“We believe the person behind the leak, whoever it is, is protected by law,” Schmitt said. The organization recently launched a $600,000 fund-raising drive, in part to raise money to defend leakers who run afoul of their government’s laws, he said.
The “first of what is likely to become a war of hyperbole, with Manning painted on either side as hero or villain”, Colin Horgan accurately notes at True Slant, is beginning to surface:
Just as I was writing this, WikiLeaks posted a link to this site, which claims that Manning’s biggest mistake was not torturing people—the inferrence being that if he had, he’d be getting away with it, just like George W. Bush. Subtle. It does, however, throw WikiLeaks’ earlier claims that Lamo and Poulsen are “felons” and “manipulators” into question. If Lamo and Poulson were spreading misinformation, isn’t WikiLeaks doing the same, legitimizing the claims by linking to a website that assumes Manning’s guilt?
Despite that, the point still stands: this guy is about to be vilified for apparently releasing information that, arguably, the world needed to see in order to have context on an increasingly questionable conflict that’s cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives. Even if he is guilty, did he do something wrong?
The fine line between hard-hitting, intellectually honest analysis of honorable integrity and hyperbole is difficult to tow among within the antiwar discourse—especially in the deontogocial natural rights circles. Josh Stieber, former member of the company which committed the West Baghdad Massacre and current activist with Iraq Veterans Against the War, expressed to Scott Horton on AntiWar Radio that it’s imperative for antiwar activists to not lash out at every private pawn returning from the war zones. That such behavior discourages whistleblowers’ to speak out—out of fear, but also that such behavior encourages tribal cognition of false loyalty to the U.S. military.
Until further notice, limited solidarity with Spc. Manning is well-warranted. His kidnapping by the U.S. military should end. After his release, there is no right delaying the discharge he is awaiting and it most likely ought to be perceived and treated as honorable. I look forward to hearing more from him and the further release of what he discovered as an intelligence analyst. Humanity needs the likes of him.