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Daniel Ellsberg Fears a US Hit on Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

By Muriel Kane

June 11, 2010 "
Rawstory" -- Daniel Ellsberg, who gained fame when he leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 in hopes of ending the Vietnam War, told MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Friday that he not only sees a parallel between himself and the person who recently leaked a video of an assault by US forces on Iraqi civilians but also fears for the safety of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who published the video.

Army specialist Bradley Manning was recently arrested in the case, and according to reporter Philip Shenon, the Pentagon is "desperately" seeking Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in hopes of preventing further damaging revelations.

Noting that since his own prosecution under the Espionage Act "for revealing information to the American public" almost 40 years ago there had been only two other similar indictments prior to the current administration, Ellsberg stated angrily, "President Obama, who came in promising transparency in government and to end the excessive secrecy has totally violated that pledge. ... That's really not the kind of change I voted for when I voted for him."

 

Full transcript:
RATIGAN: Do you see direct parallels between what’s developing here and what you went through?

ELLSBURG: Yes, there does seem to be an immediate parallel between me and whoever leaked the video on the assault on the 19 or 20 Iraqis. Someone–allegedly, it was Bradley Manning–did feel that that deserved to be out. the “Reuters,” whose newspapermen were killed in the course of that, had been trying to get that through the freedom of information act for two years, as I understand it and had been refused. Let’s say whoever did it, hypothetically, Bradley Manning, showed better judgment in putting it out than the people who kept is secret from the American people and from the Iraqis.

RATIGAN: What is your sense of disclosure of information to the American people today, compared to the period of time that you lived through, where there was similar issues with, with the perception of reality of information being withheld from the public?

ELLSBURG: Look, there’s no doubt at all, that enormous amounts of energy that should be made public are being withheld and that hundreds, probably thousands of people, I’m speaking now of the run-up to the Iraq war, which has a very great similarity to the lying and the secrecy that got us into Vietnam. I think if many people had recognized that their oath of office, which called them in to support the Constitution, really contradicted their promise to keep certain secrets, when those secrets concealed lies, concealed deception to the American public and getting us into a hopeless war, they should have given priority to the oath of office and they should have put that information out to Congress and the public. They should have done what I wish I had done much earlier than I did I had been in that position, too. I knew years before the Pentagon Papers came out that the Americans were being lied in to an essentially hopeless war. I’m not proud of the fact that it didn’t occur to me that my oath of office, which was to support the Constitution, called on me to put that information out and say, ‘64, when the war might have been avoided. But I certainly am glad that I finally came aware of what my real responsibilities were there. And I did put it out years later. At times, at that time, which published it, the “Times,” and the 18 other newspapers, which defied President Nixon’s injunctions and did put it out, were in the position of Julian Assange is in now. I’m very happy that he put it out and I congratulate him for it.

RATIGAN: What was your conclusion as to the direct liability for you? I know that at one point you faced life imprisonment. What do you perceive to be the liability for whoever the leak may be to asange, Mr. Manning or anybody else?

ELLSBURG: I didn’t understand that we don’t have an official secrets act in this country, criminalizing the disclosure of certain information. Except with certain narrow forms of information which is not involved in the pentagon papers or in this. The nuclear weapons data. The identities of covert agents, those things are subject to law. The classification system as a whole is an administrative system that doesn’t have legal force in this country. We’re almost alone among countries in that. I didn’t know that at the time. I assumed I must be breaking some law, that we had some equivalent. And so i didn’t know to start with, that I was the first person ever prosecuted for a leak. The first person to have the Espionage Act provisions used not for espionage, but for revealing information to the American public. There have only been a couple of people who have been indicted since then. Samuel Loring Morrison. And the APEC under George W. Bush. The only cases and conviction was for Morrison. President Obama, who came in promptsing transparency in government, and an end to the excessive secrecy has totally violated that pledge. and it so happens that he’s not only brought two indictments, more than any other president for leaking before any other president had done. but with now, with Bradley Manning, under arrest, if he’s under prosecution, that will be three. A new, a new record for President Obama. That’s really not the kind of change I voted for when I voted for him.

RATIGAN: Phillip, what is your understand of where Mr. Assange is right now and how highly desired he is as a target, of either state department or pentagon investigators?

SHENON: We in the press corps would like to know where he is, we have no idea. He was supposed to speak at a panel in Las Vegas, but he apparently canceled on them at the last minute. He was supposed to appear in New York last week at a separate conference you made reference to. He chose not to attend and was apparently in his native Australia.

RATIGAN: His absence is one thing, an understanding of the degree of interest is one thing, and federal government is the other. Do you have a sense of whether his absence correlates to avoiding the American authorities in any way?

SHENON: Yeah, he said last week, at this New York gathering that he had been instructed by his lawyers not to return to the United States.

ELLSBURG: You know, may I say, the expression he used, I was supposed to do a dialogue with him at that conference, that’s why I went to New York. And he explained, the explanation he used was that he was understood that it was not safe for him to come to this country. And then later he explained now when the Bradley Manning arrest was announced, he said now you understand why I didn’t come. I think it’s worth mentioning a very new and ominous development in our country. I think he would not be safe, even physically entirely, wherever he is. We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any Democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism. That he suspects of it. And that includes American citizens. One American citizen has even been named. Now Assange is not an American citizen. But I listen to that with a special interest. Because I was in fact the subject of a White House hit squad in November on May 3rd, 1972. A dozen Cuban assets were brought up from Miami with orders, quote, quoting the prosecutor, to incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally. on the steps of the capital, it so happens when i was in a rally during the vietnam war. And I asked the prosecutor, what does that mean, kill me? And he said, the words were “to incapacitate you totally.” But you should understand, these guides, meaning these c.i.a. operatives never use the word “kill.” i actually think it was to silence me at that particular time. For worries they had that I would leak president Nixon’s nuclear threats, which he was making at that precise time in 1972. Now as I look at Assange’s case, they’re worried that he will reveal current threats. I would have to say puts his well-being, his physical life, in some danger now. And I say that with anguish. I think it’s astonishing that an American president should have put out that policy and he’s not getting these resistance from it, from congress, the press, the courts or anything. it’s an amazing development that I think Assange would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown.

Philip Shenon, who was appearing along with Ellsberg, told Ratigan that Assange "was supposed to appear this evening at a panel in Las Vegas ... but he apparently canceled on them at the last minute. ... He said last week at [a] New York gathering that he had been instructed by his lawyers not to return to the United States."

"I was supposed to do a dialogue with him at that conference," Ellsberg added, "and the explanation he used was that he understood that it was not safe for him to come to this country."

"I think it's worth mentioning a very new and ominous development in our country," Ellsberg continued. "I think he would not be safe even physically, entirely, wherever he is. ... We have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad that he thinks is associated with terrorism."

Recalling that he himself had been the intended target of a CIA hit squad in 1972, Ellsberg suggested, "As I look at Assange's case, their worry that he will reveal current threats, I would have to say, puts his well-being, his physical life, in some danger. And I say that with anguish. ... I think Assange would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown."

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Inside the Pimpernel’s Bunker

Julian Assange is obsessed with exposing secrets while staying hidden himself. But now he has let his guard drop

By Stuart Wavell

June 13, 2010 "The Times' -- There
was little to arouse suspicion about the group of conspirators who converged on a rented house in Reykjavik on a blustery day three months ago. Their leader, Julian Assange, hid his striking shock of white hair beneath a grey snowsuit and his words to the property’s owner were blandly reassuring: “We are journalists. We’re here to write about the volcano.”

In truth, Assange and his team had a different kind of eruption in mind. They planned to release Collateral Murder, a secret video shot in 2007 showing Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists being mown down by an American attack helicopter in cold blood.

Less than a week after they had turned their Icelandic hideaway into a clandestine editing suite, the film was ready to be launched across the world. Assange used 20 servers to thwart any attempts at suppression.

Audio of the US air crew mocking the dead caused an international outcry and embarrassed the Pentagon — but it could do nothing. On YouTube alone the film promptly got more than 7m hits. Furious, the US military detained Bradley Manning, a military analyst in Kuwait, on suspicion of leaking the footage.

Investigators are now hunting Assange himself, who is thought to have been given a huge cache of classified State Department cables by Manning. Assange, in hiding, has promised to help Manning with his defence.

He’ll need money and support to make good his promise: fortunately both seem plentiful. Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website that calls itself the “uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis”. Within days of putting the video out, it received £137,000 in donations and the figure increases daily.

To its fans WikiLeaks carries an electrifying buzz of danger, challenging governments with compelling evidence of illegal activity and cover-ups. Since its emergence in 2007 it has published a huge volume of secret material ranging from the “Climategate” emails from the University of East Anglia and the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo! account to Nato’s plans for the Afghan war and the operations manual for the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.

It’s an outlaw operation, a will-o’-the-wisp that has no headquarters and relies on five editors and 800 unpaid volunteers. Designed as a digital drop box, the site is a place where anyone can anonymously post sensitive information. Assange’s adversarial stance, treating legal threats with contempt, takes activism and provocation into uncharted territory.

Well aware of the dangers it was courting, the WikiLeaks group that assembled in Reykjavik on March 30 emulated the extreme measures of secrecy adopted by its leader, a Pimpernel figure whose nomadic lifestyle has kept his enemies guessing whether he is in east Africa, Belgium or Siberia. An air of mild paranoia pervaded the starkly white living quarters, dubbed “the Bunker”, where 12 volunteers were to work round the clock for four days on Project B — Assange’s codename for the Iraq video.

At the centre of the operation, hunched over two computers, sat the lanky figure of Assange. According to Raffi Khatchadourian, a writer granted unprecedented access, beneath the activist’s practised sang-froid is an energetic intensity — and a chronic absent-mindedness.

“He is ... the kind of person who will forget to reserve a plane ticket, or reserve a plane ticket and forget to pay for it, or pay for the ticket and forget to go to the airport,” Khatchadourian writes in the current issue of The New Yorker. “People around him seem to want to care for him; they make sure that he is where he needs to be and that he has not left all his clothes in the dryer before moving on.” It is a surprising shortcoming for a man always on the run.

Project B was time-consuming because Assange and his squad had to analyse raw video and edit it into a short film, build a website to display it, conceive a media campaign and prepare documentation for the footage.

Tired and unshaven, Assange appeared to work non-stop. But what for others might be an ordeal has become a way of life for him: “I spent two months in one room in Paris without leaving. People were handing me food.”

An eclectic crowd rallied to Assange’s banner. A Dutch activist, hacker and businessman named Rop Gonggrijp became alarmed at Assange’s fearful behaviour and decided to step in and become the Bunker’s “manager”.

“Julian can deal with incredibly little sleep and a hell of a lot of chaos, but even he has his limits and I could see he was stretching himself,” Gonggrijp says. “I decided to come out and make things sane again.”

Another lieutenant was Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic artist and parliamentarian wearing a T-shirt printed with skulls. “We’re all paranoid schizophrenics,” she says.

Until now only the bare details of Assange’s background have been published to the evident approval of the fugitive who has even refused to confirm his age on the basis that “I prefer to keep the bastards guessing”. Khatchadourian has managed to throw more light on the life of the WikiLeaks founder, including his prematurely white hair.

Assange was born in Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, the son of nonconformists always on the move with travelling theatrical productions. Largely home-taught, he judged his childhood was “pretty Tom Sawyer”.

His mother went on the run with her young son from the age of 11-16, fleeing an abusive boyfriend. Then Assange, whose hacking had brought him to the attention of the police, himself went to ground with his 16-year-old girlfriend in Melbourne, where she fell pregnant. The two married and soon afterwards had a son.

Assange was eventually arrested and charged with 31 cases of hacking and related crimes; he admitted 25 and was let off with a fine. Meanwhile, he fought a harrowing custody battle with his wife. Nearly three dozen legal hearings and appeals left Assange with post-traumatic stress disorder, his mother believes. Assange’s hair, which had been dark brown, became blanched.

On the last day of Project B, Assange’s hair was so unkempt that he asked Jonsdottir to cut it while he was typing a press release. With the mission completed, the house was scrupulously cleaned before Assange set off to drop his bombshell at a press conference in Washington on April 5. True to form, there was a mix-up over his ticket at the airport. After it transpired that he had bought the ticket but forgot to confirm the purchase, he bought another.

The press conference and video were a sensation. Now Assange has another leak in mind, codenamed Project G, that he is developing at a secret location, much to the Pentagon’s evident alarm. The prospect apparently fills him with “devilish” glee.

At one point in the Bunker he began to recite from the folk poem celebrating Guy Fawkes: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November.” Whatever he is planning, the reverberations are bound to be heard far and wide.

==========

WikiLeaks: Where is Julian Assange? And how WikiLeaks protects itself

By Colin Horgan

June 11. 2010 "
True Slant" --  The story of 22-year old Pfc. Bradley Manning – the leaker of the well-known “collateral murder” video released by WikiLeaks earlier this year – keeps growing, as more information comes out about his conversations prior to his detention. There is also now a concerted effort on the part of the U.S. State Department to find WikiLeaks founder and ex-hacker, Julian Assange.

Philip Shenon has another piece up at the Daily Beast relating the U.S. government’s desire to get a hold of Assange. Shenon writes that Pentagon investigators are “convinced that Assange is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables,” that Bradley claimed to have leaked to Assange’s site. Manning revealed to fellow hacker Adrian Lamo prior to being taken into custody by the Army, that he had leaked as many as 260,000 of those cables to WikiLeaks – a claim that WikiLeaks has denied via its Twitter feed.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials are obviously concerned that if even some of those cables are leaked, it might cause some massive diplomatic headaches and potentially threaten national security. Assange was scheduled to speak at an event in Las Vegas this week, but has since dropped out. Obviously. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

So how can WikiLeaks protect this kind of information, and how has the site managed to protect itself? The answers are on WikiLeaks, actually. On a page called ‘Investigators Guide’, WikiLeaks outlines that it is a media organization, and as such, it has certain protections under various international jurisdictions. Additionally, the page points out that:

All Wikileaks submissions pass through the hands of at least one journalist nationally accredited in Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Hence the clear intent of our sources is to convey information to a journalist in a media organization. Consequently submissions are what is referred to as “journalist-source communication”. Such communication is afforded protections in many jurisdictions, including:

All online submissions enter Wikileaks equipment in Sweden and Belgium. These two countries have strict protections for journalist-source communications and criminal penalties apply to those who do not heed them. Both countries are members of INTERPOL, have numerous extradition treaties and have shown a willingness to use them in relation to rights violations — even against sitting heads of state.

One of the four fundamental laws of the Swedish constitution is the Tryckfrihetsförordningen, or Press Freedom Act. Under Chapter 3, the Right to Anonymity, not only do investigators face criminal penalties for spying on journalist-source communications, including stored communications. It does not matter where such spying takes place; that the information is a journalist-source communication bound for an organization covered by the Press Freedom Act is sufficient.

This is also why Assange, who spends most of his time in Iceland, has backed that country’s pending Modern Media Initiative [IMMI]. The IMMI is legislation that was conceived after Iceland’s disastrous economic meltdown in order to enable journalists to report on future irresponsible practices. Effectively, the legislation would make Iceland a haven for investigative journalism, with protections for whistleblowers, journalists, and from things like ‘libel tourism’. Iceland’s Parliament will have a final vote on the IMMI before June 15. Whether its passage is impeded or aided by this recent WikiLeaks-related incident remains to be seen, but might be something worth watching.

In effect, Assange has been quite clever in setting up WikiLeaks as a media organization and by using credited journalists as conduits for leaked material. What it means for the U.S. government is that it will be very difficult to prosecute WikiLeaks or Assange for whatever role either played (if any) in the alleged leaking of the diplomatic cables.

One other interesting thing to note here, I think, is WikiLeaks’s agenda. During an interview earlier this year with Stephen Colbert, Assange revealed that:

The promise we make to our sources is that not only will we defend them through every means that we have available… but we will try to get the maximum possible political impact for the material that they give to us.

That might imply that if WikiLeaks actually has any of these documents, there’s a good chance that they won’t all be released at once, should the site release them at all. Such a scenario is probably the worst case for the U.S. government.

                                                                                                                              ========

Wikileaks Commissions Lawyers to Defend Alleged Army Source

By Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter

June 12, 2010 "
Wired" --  Wikileaks founder Julian Assange wants a copy of the chat logs in which a U.S. intelligence analyst discussed providing classified materials to the whistle-blower site, according to an e-mail shown to Wired.com by the ex-hacker who turned the analyst in.

Assange says he’s arranging the legal defense for 22-year-old Bradley Manning, now in his third week in military custody.

In the Friday e-mail to Adrian Lamo, Assange (or someone convincingly posing as him) claims he wants to forward the logs to attorneys he says he’s hired to represent Manning, though the e-mail doesn’t explain why the unnamed lawyers aren’t approaching Lamo directly.

The e-mail also contains talking points Assange would like to see Lamo adopt in describing Manning, and in explaining his decision to report the suspected leaker to law enforcement.

Subject: Manning’s defence; logs; strategy
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 11:20:40 +0100 (BST)
From: Julian Assange
To: adrian@adrian.org
CC: Julian Assange.

Manning’s defence team, which I have commisioned, urgently requires all emails and chat logs you alleged to have come from Mr. Manning. Please send them to me, if necessary through our online submission system. They will be used strictly for Mr. Manning’s defence, but must be complete.

In addition, it would be helpful if you described Mr. Manning, as a “whistleblower”, who had already lost his access over an unrelated issue, held no data, and was of no meaningful threat to anyone. In particular Mr. Manning was not an “alleged spy”, and it is wrong for you to describe him as such, or to suggest that there were no other approaches to resolving the situation.

It would also be helpful to all concerned if you stopped trying to justify your behavior by whipping up sentiment against Mr. Manning in other ways. Your most effective personal strategy is to say you were scared due to your previous experiences, unthoughtful due to recent drug problems, and made a decision which you now bitterly regret and would under no circumstances repeat. Going around like a poor man’s Tsutomu, constantly drawing attention to yourself through the destruction of a young romantic outlaw figure, will leave you permanently reviled by history–and me.

JA

Wired.com could not confirm that Manning has accepted Assange’s offer of legal assistance. A phone call to his aunt, who has been in contact with Manning following his arrest, was not returned Friday. Assange did not immediately respond to inquiries from Wired.com.

Lamo says he hasn’t attempted to whip up sentiment against Manning, and that he doesn’t intend to comply with Assange’s request.

“No, I’m not going to give the logs to someone who suggests that I might have been drug-addled when I decided to turn in a spy,” says Lamo, who takes prescription medication for depression and Asperger’s Disorder. “Private Manning’s attorney can get them by discovery like everyone else.”

In his chats with Lamo, copies of which were provided to Wired.com by the ex-hacker, Manning described a crisis of conscience that led him to leak a headline-making video of a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians. He also boasted of leaking 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 evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; a detailed Army chronology of events in the Iraq war; and a cache of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks has neither confirmed nor denied that Manning leaked information to the site, but on Sunday it tweeted that “Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”

Manning told Lamo that he expected the cables to be released in a “searchable format” to the public. The prospect of the cable leak appears to be of particular concern to the United States. One or more of Manning’s hard drives were flown to Washington on Thursday, according to the Associated Press, and State Department diplomatic security agents are examining them for evidence of the allegedly downloaded cables. The Daily Beast reported that the Pentagon is attempting to locate Assange before he publishes the cables, though it’s not clear what defense officials plan to do if they find him.

Responding to the report, Wikileaks tweeted Friday, “Any signs of unacceptable behavior by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly.”

Assange was previously scheduled to speak at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time Friday at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas. On Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that Assange still plans on participating on the panel, but IRE told the Daily Beast that Assange actually canceled several days ago.

Last week, Assange was scheduled to appear beside Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, but he wound up participating from Australia over Skype instead.

Updated 20:00

Top photo: Julian Assange (Lily Mihalik/Wired.com). Bradley Manning photo via Facebook.com

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Pentagon Rushes to Block Release of Classified Files on Wikileaks

By Jerome Taylor

June 12, 2010 "
The Independent" -- - It has the ingredients of a spy thriller: an American military analyst turned whistleblower; 260,000 classified government documents; and rumours that the world's most powerful country is hunting a former hacker whom it believes is about to publish them.

Pentagon and State Department officials are desperately trying to discover whether Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence officer currently under arrest in Kuwait, has leaked highly sensitive embassy cables to Wikileaks.org, an online community of some 800 volunteer cyber experts, activists, journalists and lawyers which has become a thorn in the side of governments and corrupt corporations across the globe.

Reports in the US say officials are seeking to apprehend Julian Assange, the website's founder who has pioneered the release of the kind of information the mainstream media are either unwilling or unable to publish.

Manning, 22, an intelligence analyst from Potomac, Maryland, who had been serving in Iraq, was revealed earlier this week as the source behind a highly damning leak earlier in the year that showed harrowing cockpit footage of an American Apache helicopter gunning down unarmed civilians in Baghdad three years ago.

But the Apache video may have proven to be one leak too far. Adrian Lamo, a former US hacker turned journalist who had been conversing with Manning online and later gave up his name to the authorities, said he also claimed to have handed 260,000 classified US embassy messages to Wikileaks.

According to Mr Lamo, Manning said the documents showed "almost-criminal political back dealings" made by US embassies in the Middle East which, if true, would cause enormous embarrassment to key allies in a notoriously volatile area of the world. Mr Lamo claims Manning said that "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".

If those responsible for the site wanted any confirmation that the US military have them in their sights, they only need to look at their own website. In March this year Wikileaks published a leaked 32-page intelligence report which described the site as a "threat to the US Army". The report added: "The possibility that current employees or moles within [the Department of Defence] or elsewhere in the US government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out."

The site has previously shown that it is prepared to publish sensitive documents from US embassies. In January Wikileaks posted a classified cable from the US embassy in Reykjavik which described a meeting between embassy chief Sam Watson, the British Ambassador, Ian Whiting, and members of the Icelandic government.

In an interview with the BBC news website – the only one he has given since Manning was arrested – Mr Assange refused to confirm whether the intelligence analyst was the source of the Apache video. He also said he had no knowledge of the 260,000 further files that Manning claimed to have leaked.

But while Mr Assange may be shunning media interviews, he seems to be making no attempt to keep a low profile. Yesterday afternoon, the site's Twitter page announced that Mr Assange would be appearing in Las Vegas later in the day for a panel discussion about protecting anonymous sources – appearing alongside former CIA agent Valerie Plame and Leonard Downie Jr, a former editor of the Washington Post who supervised much of the paper's coverage of the Watergate scandal.

An earlier tweet suggested Wikileaks would not look kindly upon any US government interference. "Any signs of unacceptable behaviour by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly," the post said.

Website that breaks news

*Although Wikileaks is nominally hosted in Sweden, it fiercely protects both itself and the identity of its sources by routing all leaks through a series of servers around the world, which makes them virtually impossible to trace or shut down. "It's a very effective measure to mask who a whistleblower is and where they are connecting from," says Rik Fergusson, a cyber security expert at Trend Micro. "The only way to track it is in real time, which is almost impossible."

*Founded in 2006 by Australian-born former hacker Julian Assange, it has no paid staff and relies on volunteers and donations.

*In the past four years the site has released, among other items, the British National Party's membership list, detailed US military procedures for handling prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Sarah Palin's emails, the University of East Anglia's "Climategate emails" and 570,000 pager messages intercepted after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

*Wikileaks claims its next big scoop will be to publish video footage of an air strike in Afghanistan that killed scores of civilians.

========

Messages From Alleged Leaker Bradley Manning Portray Him as Despondent soldier
 

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer

June 10, 2010 "Washington Post" --  Bradley Manning, 22, had just gone through a breakup. He had been demoted a rank in the Army after striking a fellow soldier. He felt he had no future, and yet he thought that by sharing classified information about his government's foreign policy, he might "actually change something."

A series of instant messages from Manning to a stranger open a window into the anguished state of the former Army intelligence analyst, who was detained late last month for allegedly leaking classified video and documents to Wikileaks.org.

The military has not detailed the allegations against Manning, who is being held in Kuwait pending an investigation, and his attorney could not be reached. His aunt, Debra van Alstyne, reached by phone, declined to comment on the allegations but allowed that the family was "shocked and surprised" by them.

"We love him, and we'll stand by him through this process," she said.

The logs of messages between Manning and Adrian Lamo, provided to The Washington Post by Lamo, reveal a young man who was at once privy to government material of the highest sensitivity and confronting a personal crisis of the highest order. While stationed in Iraq, he decided to turn to Lamo, a former hacker whom he did not know but who would ultimately report him to authorities out of concern that lives could be at risk.

"I'm an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern baghdad, pending discharge for 'adjustment disorder,' " Manning said by way of introducing himself to Lamo, who had recently been profiled on the Web site of Wired magazine.

"If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?" he wrote.

In the days that followed -- the two exchanged messages for no more than a week -- Manning seemed intent on impressing Lamo with what he could access from his post in Iraq. He wrote of a "database of half a million events during the iraq war . . . from 2004 to 2009 . . . with reports, date time groups, lat-lon locations, casualty figures," as well as 260,000 diplomatic cables "explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective."

But much of the exchanges focused on Manning's unhappiness.

"Ive been isolated so long . . . i just wanted to figure out ways to survive . . . smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything . . . no-one took any notice of me," he wrote at one point. Another time, he wrote: "im a wreck."

In one particularly poignant message, Manning wrote: "my family is non-supportive . . . im losing my job . . . losing my career options . . . i dont have much more except for this laptop, some books, and a hell of a story."

Young man adrift

Manning was born in Crescent, Okla. His parents are divorced; his mother lives in Wales, his father in Oklahoma. He confided in Lamo that he was homeless in 2006 and had drifted from Tulsa to Chicago before landing at his aunt's house in Potomac.

He is slight, 5-foot-2 and 105 pounds. He was looking for a connection.

In a phone interview, Lamo said he does not know what prompted Manning to allegedly leak. "I think it was a confluence of things -- being a thin, nerdy, geeky type in an Army culture of machismo, of seeing injustice," he said.

Wikileaks has declined to say whether Manning was a source but has stated, via a Twitter post, that it would defend him based on allegations that he was. It has also said the allegations that it had "been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect."

In his exchanges with Lamo, Manning said he had sent files to a "white haired aussie," whom he later identified as Julian Assange, the peripatetic founder of Wikileaks.

Manning referred in his chat with Lamo to a leak of a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, dated Jan. 13. Wikileaks published a document matching that description Feb. 18.

He also told Lamo that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and finds an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format to the public . . . everywhere there's a US post . . . there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed."

It's "important that it gets out . . . i feel, for some bizarre reason . . . it might actually change something," he said.

A spokesman for the State Department has said that officials are working with the military in its investigation. "Clearly, classified information, anytime it is released in the public domain, can have a potential negative impact on our security," spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday.

'Damning' video

Among the files Manning said he leaked was a video of a May 2009 airstrike near the village of Gerani in Afghanistan that local officials claimed killed scores of civilians. But that video, which Manning said Wikileaks "hasn't decrypted yet," was "not nearly as damning" as a video of a 2007 U.S. Army helicopter attack on Iraqi insurgents that showed civilians, including two Reuters employees, being gunned down. Lamo said Manning gave Wikileaks the video footage in February. Wikileaks, which said it had multiple sources for the footage and accompanying documents, posted the video in April under the title "Collateral Murder."

It's unclear how significant those videos may have been in prompting the alleged leaking.

An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, said Manning, who entered the Army as a private in October 2007, was demoted last month for an assault. He said he was not facing early discharge.

In one message, Manning said: "i'm exhausted . . . in desperation to get somewhere in life . . . i joined the army . . . and that's proven to be a disaster now . . . and now i'm quite possibly on the verge of being the most notorious 'hacktivist' or whatever you want to call it . . . its all a big mess i've created."

Staff researcher Julie Tate and staff writer Joby Warrick contributed to this report.

   
 

 

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