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Monday, November 29, 2010

Bradley "Lee Harvey" Manning

My initial gut reaction: This young fellow has "fall guy" written all over him.

Call it a hunch. But I'm a little bothered by the fact that, so far, the only evidence against Bradley Manning in the Wikileaks docu-dump case has been provided by "Adrian Lamo, a well known former computer hacker in the US". If the guy is a hacker, then he no doubt has committed computer crimes -- which means that it would be pretty easy for the government to place him in the hottest of hot seats. He could be manipulated to say pretty much anything.

Glenn Greenwald
makes some good points:
A definitive understanding of what really happened is virtually impossible to acquire, largely because almost everything that is known comes from a single, extremely untrustworthy source: Lamo himself. Compounding that is the fact that most of what came from Lamo has been filtered through a single journalist -- Poulsen -- who has a long and strange history with Lamo, who continues to possess but not disclose key evidence, and who has been only marginally transparent about what actually happened here...
The Telegraph says that Manning is gay. If so, homophobes in the military would have all the more reason to use him as the fall guy.

Supposedly, Bradley Manning is computer savvy. Yet according to this account, he revealed the details of his scheme in a computer chat!
'I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like Lady Gaga... erase the music... then write a compressed split file,' he wrote in an online chat.

'No one suspected a thing. (I) listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga's Telephone while "exfiltrating" possibly the largest data spillage in America history.

'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.

'Everywhere there's a U.S. post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format. It's beautiful and horrifying.

'Information should be free. It belongs in the public domain.'

He claimed he had 'unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day seven days a week for eight plus months.'
We are supposed to believe that Bradley would commit an act that might open him up to a charge of treason -- and that he would brag about his deed in a forum that everyone knows is hardly private.

Come on. All chats are logged by the server. Bradley knew that. Even an encrypted message might be logged by the person on the other end. If you were planning to rob a bank, would you publicize those plans on your blog?

Frankly, I don't find Manning's dialog, as excerpted above, to be particularly convincing. It all sounds too pat, too Hollywood: "Before I kill you, Mister Bond, allow me to explain all the details of my evil scheme..."

And which chat service did he use? The available news stories do not say, but the service was almost certainly Facebook, which became what it is through In-Q-Tel funding.

I would not be surprised to learn that Manning really was responsible for the leaking of this video, which shows the massacre in Baghdad of civilian news photographers mistaken for combatants. One can understand why a guy like Manning might feel compelled to leak something of that sort. Once he was caught on that charge, the military would have the opportunity to pin pretty much anything on him.

Incidentally, he has been held in Kuwait since May 29. Apparently he has had very little contact with the outside world -- not even with legal counsel.

I believe that the diplomatic papers -- some of which go back quite a few years -- were leaked for a political purpose. Why would 22 year-old Bradley Manning even have access to that stuff?

I remain of the opinion that the document leak was the work of higher-level political actors. The motive may have been anti-Hillary animus, an idea floated in the post below. Conceivably, the motive was to justify new limits on the freedom of information on the internet; many are now openly asking for Assange to be killed.

This blog post inadvertently suggests another possible behind-the-scenes player in this drama.

Update: Myiq raises some very important points...
The Army does not give PFC’s the keys to the officer’s latrine unless they want the toilets cleaned.

Private First Class is the third-lowest rank there is. Most soldiers make PFC after one year in service. (When I was in some people actually started out at that rank, such as graduates of high school Junior ROTC.) If you stay out of trouble a promotion to Spec 4/E-4 is pretty much automatic after two years.

“Intelligence analyst” with a Top Secret clearance isn’t exactly a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for high school drop-outs. The geekier your MOS, the faster you’ll make rank. A G-2 tech job is about as cushy as it gets in the Army. They stay “in the rear with the gear.”

If Manning was in the service working at Divisional G-2 for three years and is only a PFC then he’s had some troubles. It couldn’t have been anything serious enough to get him kicked out but he must have been reduced in rank due to an Article 15 at least once.
To access classified government information a person needs two things – the proper clearance and the “need to know.” The government has security programs in place so that if someone tries to go exploring in cyber-places they don’t belong their activities will see off alarms.

I know this is true because I know an IRS employee who got in big trouble when he decided to take a peek at the tax returns of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. If they have these programs for the IRS they have ‘em for the military and the State Department too.

We’re not talking about somebody accidentally stumbling across a couple of documents. We’re talking about somebody spending hours and hours searching through classified archives and downloading them.
Sorry for the extensive quotation, but these points deserve the widest possible publicity. Maybe someone better versed than I in the military power structure can explain: How the hell does a PFC get that kind of access...?
Myiq is correct, his rank was reduced. Wikipedia says, "Before being arrested, Manning had been demoted from Specialist to Private First Class for assaulting another soldier and was to be discharged early."
The answer is, HE DOESN'T. My brother was going to post as a highly type secretary for his computing skills (OK, he has two masters...ya get the point) and he had an extensive check and his access was just going to be for the communications, of the high up dude and the like. He was so, tight lipped about the whole thing, that even his home laptop was secured when he was away, some lock device thing, could have been biometrics, can't recall.

So, with all that education and skills (he now works for a security software company, but taught programming I think?) and a prior stint to the service in big biz computing.

My point is, that I don't believe 'Bradley' did it, and the story in the Guardian comes to the same conclusion.

(waving) So, you're back???? :-)
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