So I recently made three posts about my disappointment in Wikileaks and it’s fans. I am still angry about how they have been acting over this most recent presidential election. As Marcus Ranum noted, what I’m experiencing is the realization that Wikileaks was never an organization for good, but a vanity project by Julian Assange to boost his own ego; and that it was Assange and another hacker, Adrian Lamo, who threw Chelsea Manning under the bus.
Marcus wrote an incredible post about all this, drawing from his own first-hand experience with such hackers. I’ll quote the bit about what happened to Chelsea Manning here. But please, go and read the entire thing. It’s a long read, yes, but it’s very good, and deserves your full attention.
I felt fortunate that I never took Lamo seriously at all; others were less lucky. Kevin Poulsen, who writes for WIRED, is also a former hacker elite who has (I’ll say that much for him) tried to reinvent himself doing something that’s not hacking and running online cons******* but I suspect Poulsen’s background and past sociopathic behavior may have made him particularly susceptible to Lamo’s stories. Lamo played Poulsen hard, before Lamo’s whole game finally crashed and burned. But there was still some life left in Lamo, another opportunity to show the world what a sociopathic manipulator he was: because of the press attention he had been getting, Lamo was the hacker Chelsea Manning contacted about how to release the trove of secrets.
It looks like a pretty simple, obvious transaction: Lamo knew he was on the FBI’s list of sociopaths to watch, so he gave them Manning in order to ingratiate himself with them. If you’re interested in the way Wikileaks got famous, and how Chelsea Manning got hung out to dry, you owe it to yourself to do a little bit of research on that particular time and those events. Glenn Greenwald (when he was writing at Salon) has a version of his view of what happened, a view which I largely agree with, but which is probably slanted by being justifiably disgusted by Lamo. From my knowledge, there was also a security professional, Chet Uber, who got involved and directed Lamo’s interactions toward the FBI. Some of us do not talk to Chet, anymore, because of his shameful involvement in that situation.
Lamo flipped Manning to the feds, once Assange had the documents. Actually, Lamo was flipping Manning to the feds while the transfer was going on, it was a coin-toss how it all worked out, but no matter how it worked out, Manning was going to be roadkill and Lamo, Uber, and Assange simply didn’t give a shit for a second.
Now please go and read the entire thing. I think we progressives, especially, could use the wake-up call.