Unfriendly Fire / Wikileaks cheesed off after journalist revealed sources

When, late Sunday night, Wired reported that Bradley Manning, a young Army intelligence staffer, had been arrested and charged with giving a variety of classified or closely held information to WikiLeaks, the online secret-sharing site didn’t stay quiet.

Someone—likely Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’s founder and primary public face—took to the WikiLeaks Twitter account to warn journalists off against believing the article’s primary source and one of its authors.

Adrian Lamo&Kevin Poulson are notorious felons,informers&manipulators. Journalists should take care. http://bit.ly/chFsGC

Let’s unpack that. Adrian Lamo is an ex-hacker, once convicted on charges stemming from his infiltration of The New York Times’s networks. Most recently, he provided federal investigators with copies of e-mails and chat sessions he had with Manning, in which Manning admitted to leaking information to WikiLeaks. “Kevin Poulson” is actually Kevin Poulsen, the editor of Wired’s Threat Level blog, who coauthored with Kim Zetter the story bringing Manning’s detention to public light. (The tweet’s link takes you to that piece, not to some information demonstrating Lamo’s and Poulsen’s supposed notoriety for informing or manipulation.)

“What’s he citing to call me an informer? No, I’ve never informed on anybody, and I’m no more manipulative than any other journalist,” says Poulsen, with a chuckle.

But there’s no denying the felonious part. In 1994, Poulsen, before entering journalism, was sentenced to 51 months in jail for his own hacking exploits.

“It dates back to about the time that Julian was doing the same thing, coincidentally,” says Poulsen, referencing Assange’s own mid-nineties conviction in his native Australia for hacking. “I’ve been searching my memory for his handle, to see if I can remember having any interaction with him back in the day. Maybe he has some longstanding grudge against me from hacking circles from twenty years ago that I’ve forgotten.”

Poulsen has been reporting on Lamo for about a decade, and has been on the receiving end of Lamo’s tips before.

“As things often do with Adrian, things unfolded slowly and cryptically,” Poulsen says of coming to learn of the ex-hacker’s involvement in Manning’s arrest. “He starts by speaking in generalities and the like, and hinting at some intrigue that on its surface sounds absurd and unlikely. And then, of course, with Adrian it always turns out to be absolutely true.”

So was Poulsen and Zetter’s reporting, which despite WikiLeaks’s warning was never seriously in question. The government confirmed on Monday that Manning had been detained on suspicions of leaking the video.

Assange, or whoever was writing WikiLeaks’s tweets yesterday, followed up the first volley with another:

Did Wired break journalism’s sacred oath? Lamo&Poulson call themselves journalists.Echoes of Olshansky shopping Diaz?

It’s unclear exactly what Assange means by “journalism’s sacred oath,” but presumably it has something to do with exposing or giving up a confidential source. In 2005, Barbara Olshansky, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, received an anonymous letter with a highly sought-after list of names of Guantanamo detainees. According to Wikipedia, “Olshansky suspected the list might have been classified, so she contacted Federal authorities.” That claim is not adequately supported by its citation. Nor is Assange’s claim that Olshansky went “shopping” Diaz: A 2007 New York Times article says that she asked the federal court hearing her Guantanamo cases to take safekeeping of the material, and was instructed to turn it over to law enforcement. They were able to trace the mailing back to Lt. Commander Matthew Diaz, who was convicted and sentenced in military court to six months in prison for improper disclosure of classified information.

WikiLeaks’s Twitter account later doubled down, (again misspelling Poulsen’s last name), tweeting to him and Lamo that “There’s a special place in hell reserved for ‘journalists’ like you and ‘lawyers’ like Barbara Olshansky.” (Zetter, despite being the reporter on the story who unsuccessfully sought comment from Assange before it ran, has escaped WikiLeaks’s Twitter ire.)

Assange has also suggested that, given Poulsen and Lamo’s previous association, Wired may have been “complicit,” presumably in exposing Manning to law enforcement.

Poulsen is quick to dismiss the notion that publicizing Manning’s role was unethical:

I mean, Manning is allegedly Julian’s leaker, not mine. That said, Wired isn’t in the business of working to expose other journalists sources, or WikiLeaks’s sources. We pursued this and we reported on this because the FBI and the Army already had the information. By the time we reported it—by the time we were doing serious reporting on it—he had already been arrested. So we do report on arrests, and we take particular interest when someone is arrested for leaking information.

Indeed, Poulsen told me that Lamo did not provide him with the chat logs around which the article is built until the day after Lamo learned that Manning was in custody.

As for whether Lamo, who after his conviction studied journalism at a local college and whose Wikipedia profile vaguely mentions “editorial work / collaboration” in a variety of small outlets, broke any form of commitment to a source by contacting the feds, Lamo simply says (in response to a Twitter interlocutor) “I was not acting as a journalist.” Lamo did not respond to CJR’s requests for comment.

Wikileaks cheesed off after journalist revealed sourcesWikileaks cheesed off after journalist revealed sources -

Yesterday, former cracker-turned-hack Kevin Poulson published a story on his “Threat Level” blog, featured on Wired.com. Poulson revealed a 22 year old US army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning who claimed to be the source of leaked army material to whistleblowing website Wikileaks. Manning had told former hacker Adrian Lamo about his deeds while chatting online and claimed to have leaked 260,000 diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.

Manning viewed the content of these cables to be “almost criminal political back dealings”. He also believed “incredible things, awful things …” he found in army networks “belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC.” Obviously, he had glanced down into the abyss and decided to expose its monsters to daylight.

Lamo, however, decided to rat Manning out and met with FBI and army CID investigators. Lamo was sentenced to half a year of house arrest as a youngster after pleading guilty under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Poulson reported just a month ago that Lamo was diagnosed with Asperger’s, after being institutionalised in a psychiatric hospital.

Should Lamo have experienced his institutionalisation as a traumatic event, it would be understandable and excusable if he had acted out of fear of renewed confinement should investigators subsequently have uncovered Manning’s dealings and chat logs with Lamo. However, Lamo has been answering questions on his Twitter account, and it doesn’t appear he reacted out of fear – yet not out of patriotism either. According to one answer on Twitter, Lamo viewed Manning’s acts as “much less noble” and claims Manning had sold out his country.

Wikileaks seems to have been following the happenings on Twitter, linking to the accounts of both Kevin Poulson and Adrian Lamo. Wikileaks is also cheesed off with Kevin Poulson breaking the news about the Manning case and has been comparing it to “Olshansky shopping Diaz“.

Barbara Olshansky, who is labelled a human rights lawyer, ratted out lawyer Matthew Diaz, a lieutenant commander working for the US Navy. Diaz, appalled and disgusted by the US treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, had compiled a list of prisoners and secretly mailed the list to a lawyer working at the Center for Constitutional Rights, an NGO opposing the Bush administration’s dealings in regards to the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. After discussing what to do with the list, yet doing nothing, the cards were handed over to the Justice Department.

Diaz was subsequently court martialed and sentenced to six months prison. After his incarceration and dismissal from the Navy, he received the Ribenhour prize, named after the soldier who unveiled the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Barbara Olshansky, however, has “a special place in hell” reserved according to the person twittering for Wikileaks – alongside Kevin Poulson.

Not only has Wikileaks been wishing Poulson, Lamo and Olshansky all the best, it has also been questioning if Kevin Poulson should have or should not have told everyone in the world about Bradley Manning, the purported deep throat. True, it seems one journalist ratting out another’s source – a source supplying tons of information on supposed US atrocities – is unethical.

Manning was however reported to authorities by Adrian Lamo, not Kevin Poulson. Kevin Poulson merely got the exclusive, due to his proximity to Lamo. If, in Wikileaks’ eyes, the world has the right to know all about what is kept under the lid, then the world also has the right to know who the whistleblower was who opened Pandora’s box and handed its contents to Wikileaks. This is especially the case if the whistleblower in question has been arrested, is being investigated and so will not produce any further material.

Hopefully – and it is the deep wish of the author that this will happen – further men and women of moral integrity will stand up to report on the wrongdoings of military, corporations and government.

Obama’s on the hunt. We hear that the second line of his campaign slogan was missing off the autocues: “Yes we can – keep marching on like before“. 

Information, simply put, wants to be free.

Posted via web from Street_Visuals


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