All The People Who Betrayed Chelsea Manning
- غير مصنف
- 18 يناير 2017
- d M Y
- 46 مشاهدة
I first heard the name Bradley Manning at a cheap Japanese restaurant near Sacramento, California, sitting across from the ex-hacker who’d just turned the soldier in.
It was May 2010, and I was following up on a remarkable story I’d heard in cryptic bits and pieces from Adrian Lamo, a former recreational hacker I’d once reported on extensively. Lamo told me he’d been contacted online by an Army intelligence analyst deployed to Iraq, and the soldier, mistaking Lamo for a kindred spirit, confided that he’d been providing the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks with a trove of material from a classified network. The leaks included a quarter million State Department cables—which WikiLeaks had not yet acknowledged having—and a shocking video of a U.S. Army helicopter attack in Baghdad that the site had already released under the title “Collateral Murder.”
Lamo considered the leaks reckless and dangerous, and decided to turn in the soldier, who I learned was a 22-year-old kid named Bradley Manning. By the time of that lunch, Lamo had already met once with law enforcement officials, and he was scheduled to meet with them again later that day to hand over the logs he’d kept of his chats with Manning. He’d agreed to give me a copy as well under embargo, if I showed up in person with a thumbdrive.
I hadn’t seen Lamo in years, and he was in a bad state, recently separated, living with his parents, and apparently hungry—he asked for a hot lunch and small talk before he’d detail his exchanges with Manning, or give me the chat logs. And so we ate, talked about the old days when Lamo effortlessly hacked the likes of Yahoo and The New York Times, back when he was as young and fearless as the soldier he was giving up.
In the end, I got the logs, and was on my way back to San Francisco by the time Lamo and the feds had their second meeting. I remember wondering on the drive what would become of the soldier Lamo had felt obliged to betray.
Now we know. On Tuesday, outgoing President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of the woman now named Chelsea Manning, who will be freed from the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth on May 17 after serving seven years on a harsh 35-year sentence.
The announcement comes just three days before Obama turns the White House over to Donald Trump, and follows a concerted online campaign that’s been pushing for Manning’s freedom since the day I reported her arrest. Most recently, an online petition urging clemency for Manning gathered over 100,000 signatures in about a month.
Manning became a WikiLeaks source in 2010, when her work as an intelligence analyst in Iraq led her to a crisis of conscience over America’s military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I started to question the morality of what we were doing,” she later told a military judge. “I realized that our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we had forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians.”
That point was underscored by her most plainly righteously leak, the “Collateral Murder” video that gave the public a gunner’s-eye-view of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack on a group of men mistakenly identified as insurgents. Two Reuters employees died in the assault, as did a Baghdad man who stumbled on the scene afterward and tried to rescue one of the victims by pulling him into his van. The man’s two children were in the van and suffered serious injuries in the hail of gunfire. Though the incident was already public, the Army had refused to release the video, which showed the consequences of urban warfare with more clarity than any report.