[News] US Intelligence Analyst Arrested In Wikileaks Video Probe

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 8 12:37:04 EDT 2010


U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested In Wikileaks Video Probe

By Kevin Poulsen & Kim Zetter

07 June, 2010
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/leak/

Federal officials have arrested an Army 
intelligence analyst who boasted of giving 
classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of 
thousands of classified State Department records 
to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.

SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, 
was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 
40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested 
nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal 
Investigation Division. A family member says he’s 
being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.

Manning was turned in late last month by a former 
computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the 
course of their chats, Manning took credit for 
leaking a 
<http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/whistleblower-report-leaked-video-shows-us-coverup/>headline-making 
video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks 
posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 
2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that 
claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said 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; a classified Army 
document<http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/03/wikileaks-army/> 
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."

"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.

Wired.com could not confirm whether Wikileaks 
received the supposed 260,000 classified embassy 
dispatches. To date, a 
<http://file.wikileaks.org/file/us-watson1-2010.txt%20>single 
classified diplomatic cable has appeared on the 
site: released last February, it describes a U.S. 
embassy meeting with the government of Iceland. 
E-mail and a voice mail message left for 
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Sunday were 
not answered by the time this article was published.

The State Department said it was not aware of the 
arrest or the allegedly leaked cables. The FBI 
was not prepared to comment when asked about Manning.

Army spokesman Gary Tallman was unaware of the 
investigation but 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."

Manning’s arrest comes as Wikileaks has ratcheted 
up pressure against various governments over the 
years with embarrassing documents acquired 
through a global whistleblower network that is 
seemingly impervious to threats from adversaries. 
Its operations are hosted on servers in several 
countries, and it uses high-level encryption for 
its document submission process, providing secure 
anonymity for its sources and a safe haven from 
legal repercussions for itself. Since its launch 
in 2006, it has never outed a source through its 
own actions, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Manning came to the attention of the FBI 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 CID 
investigators and the FBI 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, FBI agents 
from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker 
that Manning had been arrested the day before in 
Iraq by Army CID investigators.

Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the 
past, and says he agonized over the decision to 
expose Manning ­ he says he’s frequently 
contacted by hackers who want to talk about their 
adventures, and he’s never considered reporting 
anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable 
leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions 
were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.

"I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in 
danger," says Lamo, who discussed the details 
with Wired.com following Manning’s arrest. "He 
was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum 
up as much classified information as he could, 
and just throwing it up into the air."

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 DC."

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 NSA 
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."

Manning had already been sifting through the 
classified networks for months when he discovered 
the Iraq video in late 2009, he said. The video, 
later released by Wikileaks under the title 
"Collateral Murder," shows a 2007 Army helicopter 
attack on a group of men, some of whom were 
armed, that the soldiers believed were 
insurgents. The attack killed two Reuters 
employees and an unarmed Baghdad man who stumbled 
on the scene afterward and tried to rescue one of 
the wounded by pulling him into his van. The 
man’s two children were in the van and suffered 
serious injuries in the hail of gunfire.

"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 the 
video 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.

The second video he claimed to have leaked shows 
a May 2009 air strike near Garani village in 
Afghanistan that the local government says killed 
nearly 100 civilians, most of them children. The 
Pentagon released a report about the incident 
last year, but backed down from a plan to show 
video of the attack to reporters.

As described by Manning in his chats with Lamo, 
his purported leaking was made possible by lax security online and off.

Manning had access to two classified networks 
from two separate secured laptops: SIPRNET, the 
Secret-level network used by the Department of 
Defense and the State Department, and the Joint 
Worldwide Intelligence Communications System 
which serves both agencies at the Top Secret/SCI level.

The networks, he said, were both "air gapped" 
from unclassified networks, but the environment 
at the base made it easy to smuggle data out.

"I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled 
with something like 'Lady Gaga’, erase the music 
then write a compressed split file," he wrote. 
"No one suspected a thing and, odds are, they never will."

"[I] listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga’s 
'Telephone’ while exfiltrating possibly the 
largest data spillage in American history," he 
added later. "Weak servers, weak logging, weak 
physical security, weak counter-intelligence, 
inattentive signal analysis
 a perfect storm."

Manning told Lamo that the Garani video was left 
accessible in a directory on a U.S. Central 
Command server, centcom.smil.mil, by officers who 
investigated the incident. The video, he said, 
was an encrypted AES-256 ZIP file.

Manning’s aunt, with whom he lived in the U.S., 
had heard nothing about his arrest when first 
contacted by Wired.com last week; Debra Van 
Alstyne said she last saw Manning during his 
leave in January and they had discussed his plans 
to enroll in college when his four-year stint in 
the Army was set to end in October 2011. She 
described him as smart and seemingly untroubled, 
with a natural talent for computers and a keen interest in global politics.

She said she became worried about her nephew 
recently after he disappeared from contact. Then 
Manning finally called Van Alstyne collect on 
Saturday. He told her that he was okay, but that 
he couldn’t discuss what was going on, Van 
Alstyne said. He then gave her his Facebook 
password and asked her to post a message on his behalf.

The message reads: "Some of you may have heard 
that I have been arrested for disclosure of 
classified information to unauthorized persons. See CollateralMurder.com."

An Army defense attorney then phoned Van Alstyne 
on Sunday and said Manning is being held in 
protective custody in Kuwait. "He hasn’t seen the 
case file, but he does understand that it does 
have to do with that Collateral Murder video," Van Alstyne said.

Manning’s father said Sunday that he’s shocked by his son’s arrest.

"I was in the military for 5 years," said Brian 
Manning, of Oklahoma. "I had a Secret clearance, 
and I never divulged any information in 30 years 
since I got out about what I did. And Brad has 
always been very, very tight at adhering to the 
rules. Even talking to him after boot camp and 
stuff, he kept everything so close that he didn’t open up to anything."

His son, he added, is "a good kid. Never been in trouble. Never been on
drugs, alcohol, nothing."

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 FBI 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-classified 
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.

"Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a 
diplomatic scandal that will be revealed," 
Manning wrote. "It’s open diplomacy. World-wide 
anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a 
global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying."




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