The Snitch Syndrome Did Wired target Bradley Manning?

The more one looks at the Bradley Manning case, the stranger the whole thing seems.

SPC Manning, you’ll recall, is the 22-year-old intelligence analyst arrested for … well, there still haven’t been any charges filed, after three weeks, but what we know is this: He is the "leaker" who got his hands on the "Collateral Murder" video that showed US pilots chortling as they shot down Iraqi civilians in cold blood. He also leaked a video showing an apparently much bloodier massacre in Garani, Afghanistan, carried out by US forces. WikiLeaks is said to be preparing its release soon. Furthermore, Manning also reportedly gained access to 260,000 US diplomatic cables — the history of US shenanigans abroad for at least the past few years — and handed them over to WikiLeaks.

This last is what has the Pentagon and the State Department in a panic, and — although the US government denies it — it looks very much like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the object of a manhunt by the feds, who would like to "discourage" him from releasing the cables.

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This story was broken by Wired, and just how the leading hi tech magazine stumbled on the scoop is suspicious in the extreme. Adrian Lamo, the once-homeless "hacktivist" who broke into Yahoo and the New York Times web sites, claims to have been contacted by Manning — a total stranger — who then immediately confessed ("boasted" or "bragged" is the word used in news accounts) about what he had done. Lamo, who says he’s a "supporter" of Wikileaks, immediately turned him in. Why? Because "lives were in danger," and it was his "patriotic duty," and, well, he was just diagnosed with something called "Asperger’s Syndrome," which supposedly leaves its victims without any empathy for other human beings. A perfect syndrome for a snitch.

Lamo is said to be a publicity hound, but this piece describing the life of the "infamous" hacker illustrates the principle that not all pr is good pr:

"On Thursday afternoon, Adrian Lamo sat quietly in the corner of a Starbucks inside the Carmichael Safeway, tapping on a laptop that requires his thumbprint to turn on and answering his cell phone.

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"The first call, he said, came from an FBI agent asking about a death threat Lamo had received.

"The second was from a Domino’s pizza outlet. One of his many new enemies had left his name and number on a phony order.

"The third was from Army counterintelligence, he said.

"In other circumstances, it might be easy to dismiss his claims.

"He is an unassuming 29-year-old who lives with his parents on a dead-end street in Carmichael [California] and was recently released from a mental ward."

This is somebody — a "reformed" criminal who’s just been released from the loony bin — whose word we are supposed to accept as good coin, and whose recounting of the "facts" surrounding the Manning case is being repeated in the media as if it were the gospel truth.

To begin with, Wired reporter Kevin Poulsen and Adrian Lamo are good friends (in spite of Lamo’s unconvincing denial): they share a "hacktivist" (i.e. criminal) background, and Poulsen has acted as his de facto attorney in all this, vouching for his rather fanciful story and giving Lamo the publicity he seems to crave. Although Poulsen never admits to being actually engaged in the operation, except to break the story, the whole affair looks to be a COINTELPRO-type operation, with the two of them working together in drawing out their quarry and then framing the public discourse once Manning is safely held incommunicado in the brig.

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