Is The Arrest Of Bradley Manning Part Of A Coordinated Effort To Discredit Wikileaks?
from the conspiracy-theory-time dept
Like many folks, I’ve been following the bizarre story of the arrest of Bradly Manning, an US Army intelligence analyst, who supposedly “confessed” that he was leaking tons of information to Wikileaks. However, as this story has moved forward, it’s actually raised a lot more questions than it’s really answered. Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald is digging into some of the stranger parts of the story, some of which don’t make much sense. Greenwald doesn’t come out and make any direct accusations, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t trust or believe the stories being told by Adrian Lamo, who turned Manning in, or Kevin Poulsen, the reporter at Wired, who broke the story. Greenwald details the long and somewhat questionable history of Lamo and Poulsen — both of whom were convicted on hacking charges at different points in their lives. I’d never noticed this, but apparently, Poulsen has basically served as Lamo’s “go to” guy for getting press whenever he wants it. That could be meaningless, but there are large gaps in the details of the story that make the whole thing kind of questionable. It’s also odd that, as Greenwald points out, after a few years out of the news, Poulsen just so happened to write an odd and not-very-newsworthy story about Lamo’s mental health problems just a couple of weeks before this big story broke.
The other tidbit — which very likely could be a coincidence, as it seems quite early to jump on the conspiracy theory bandwagon here — is that back in 2008, a classified report by the US Army Counterintelligence Center suggested one way to discredit Wikileaks (which it viewed as a threat) would be the “Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the government… would damage and potentially destroy this center of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions.” As Greenwald notes:
In other words, exactly what the U.S. Government wanted to happen in order to destroy WikiLeaks has happened here: news reports that a key WikiLeaks source has been identified and arrested, followed by announcements from anonymous government officials that there is now a worldwide “manhunt” for its Editor-in-Chief. Even though WikiLeaks did absolutely nothing (either in this case or ever) to compromise the identity of its source, isn’t it easy to see how these screeching media reports — WikiLeaks source arrested; worldwide manhunt for WikiLeaks; major national security threat — would cause a prospective leaker to WikiLeaks to think twice, at least: exactly as the Pentagon Report sought to achieve? And that Pentagon Report was from 2008, before the Apache Video was released; imagine how intensified is the Pentagon’s desire to destroy WikiLeaks now. Combine that with what both the NYT and Newsweek recently realized is the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistle-blowers, and one can’t overstate the caution that’s merited here before assuming one knows what happened.
Separately, Greenwald breaks down Lamo’s story for why he turned in Manning, and finds the whole thing quite unconvincing. In fact, he notes that, beyond contradictory reports from Lamo about whether or not he implied or outright claimed that he would offer Manning confidentiality, most of the evidence suggests that Manning was a whistleblower, not particularly unlike Daniel Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers. That is, nothing in any of these conversations suggests an attempt to help enemies of the US, but rather to expose questionable behavior — the very definition of whistleblowing, and the sort of thing that should be celebrated.
Admittedly, the whole story is rather strange, and lots of details are sadly hidden (another thing that Greenwald questions, since Wired or Lamo could fill in some of the big gaps to clear things up — but neither seem willing to do so). I’m certainly not buying into any conspiracy theories at this point, but will admit that the whole story continues to raise more questions than it seems to answer.
Update: Don’t miss Kevin Poulsen’s response in the comments where he defends his reporting on this situation, and suggests Greenwald has it all wrong. I definitely don’t buy the implication that Poulsen might be working with the US gov’t — that seems too out there to believe. However, the rest of the story still does seem weird. Lamo’s turning in Manning story still doesn’t add up, but it’s likely an overreaction to suggest Poulsen was anything other than a reporter on this story.