CORRECTED: The Wikiwars: What is Glenn Greenwald after, and must Wired help him find it?

CORRECTED: The post has been corrected to fix an error in the original post, which incorrectly substituted Poulsen for Lamo on the question of mental health/Asperger claims. Thanks to vigilant TRR readers for pointing out the error.

Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell has perhaps the best summation/response to the growing feud between’s Glenn Greenwald and Wired Magazine editors Evan Hansen and Kevin Poulsen over their publication of partial transcripts of chat logs between Pfc Bradley Manning — accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of government documents and other data and handing them over to Wikileaks — and a former hacker named Adrian Lamo, who handed the logs over to Poulsen in June. But what is Greenwald really after? More to the point, are the editors at Wired — a rival publication — obligated to help him get it?

To start, please go over and read Hounshell’s excellent summation before proceeding. Then come back and note this excerpt:

On June 18, Greenwald wrote a long blog post raising questions about Poulsen’s scoop and about Lamo. He said he found the story “quite strange,” called Lamo an “extremely untrustworthy source,” and accused Poulsen of being “only marginally transparent about what actually happened here.”

What was curious about Greenwald’s post was that he didn’t challenge any specific facts in Wired‘s reporting; he just pointed to what he saw as inconsistencies in the story, as well as Lamo’s account, and condemned the ex-hacker’s actions as “despicable.” He didn’t suggest outright that Manning had not actually confessed to Lamo. He didn’t try to argue that Manning hadn’t broken the law. He didn’t say the log excerpts were fabricated. He did, however, complain that Lamo had told him about conversations with Manning that were not in the chat-log excerpts published byWired, and called on the magazine to release them. Poulsen said he wouldn’t be doing so, telling Greenwald: “The remainder is either Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information that I’m not throwing up without vetting first.”

Still with me?

Then, on Monday, several weeks after the cables had begun trickling out, Greenwald again returned to the issue. In a torqued-up post titled “The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired,” he excoriated the magazine and Poulsen for refusing to release the full logs, calling Poulsen’s behavior “odious” and “concealment” of “key evidence.” Greenwald appears to have been motivated to weigh in anew by Firedoglake — a left-leaning website whose members had beenobsessively trolling the Web for stories about Lamo and Manning, and even pulled together a handy, color-coded expanded transcript from the logs — as well as by a flawed New York Timesarticle reporting that the Justice Department was trying to build a conspiracy case against WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange. Presumably, the logs would be an important part of the prosecution’s argument.

Poulsen and Hansen responded with a double-barreled thumping of Greenwald on Tuesday, they continue to refuse to release the full transcripts, insisting everything there is to know about the leaking is in the published portions, and per Hounshell, “Greenwald fired back with two angry posts of his own today (12)” (which is actually Wednesday.) And Hounshell adds:

What still remains a mystery to me is what, exactly, Greenwald thinks is being covered up here. What is he accusing Wired of doing, and why? Does he think that the full transcript of the logs would somehow exonerate Manning, or prove Lamo a liar? And if he catches Lamo telling a journalist something that wasn’t in the logs, what then?

Reuters blogger Felix Salmon writes today that some of Greenwald’s substantive critique of Wired may have been answered, courtesy of yet another blogger, Sean Bonner:

The biggest development in the story today comes from Sean Bonner, who seems to have managed to elicit over Twitter the very information that Wired’s critics have been calling for all along. Wired’s Kevin Poulsen told Bonner in a tweet that “The published logs include the reference to a secure FTP server Lamo discussed with the Times”; when Bonner asked Poulsen for clarification that the reference in question was the only reference in the chat logs,Poulsen said yes.

But if you go back to Greenwald’s original post torching Wikileaks, and particularly Lamo, it seems that Greenwald is after something else, since he doesn’t even dig into the server issue. Instead, he focuses on inconsistencies between what was in the published transcripts, and what Mr. Lamo told him. A few key excerpts from the June 18 post:

From the start, this whole story was quite strange for numerous reasons.  In an attempt to obtain greater clarity about what really happened here, I’ve spent the last week reviewing everything I could related to this case and speaking with several of the key participants (including Lamo, with whom I had a one-hour interview last night that can be heard on the recorder below, and Poulsen, with whom I had a lengthy email exchange, which is published in full here).  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 (I say that as someone who admires Poulsen’s work as Editor of Wired‘s Threat Level blog). [Emphasis added]

So Greenwald has deemed Lamo “untrustworthy.” On what does he base that? The fact that he and Poulsen were hackers, mostly, which seems to me to be an attack on their character, wholly apart from what Poulsen achieved journalistically. Is that fair? And note how some of Greenwald’s ire seems to be the exclusive access that Poulsen had both to Lamo and the chat logs, while Greenwald himself only got a one-hour phone interview with Lamo. What Greenwald calls “evidence” is actually Poulsen’s work product — information he is not required under any code of journalistic norms or ethics, to share with a competing journalist.

Greenwald then launches into a highly conspiratorial sidebar about a leaked government plan to burn Wikileaks, that the reader is apparently expected to surmise is germane to this case:

In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a classified report (ironically leaked to and published by WikiLeaks) which — as the NYT put it — placed WikiLeaks on “the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States.”  That Report discussed ways to destroy WikiLeaks’ reputation and efficacy, and emphasized creating the impression that leaking to it is unsafe…

What evidence does Greenwald provide to prove the U.S. government somehow orchestrated the Lamo-Manning affair to carry out its nefarious 2008 plan to destroy Wikileaks? Why none. None at all. It’s all inference, which is certainly as interesting as it is irrelevant. Moving on, Greenwald gets to the “strangeness” of the Lamo-Poulsen relationship:

Adrian Lamo and Kevin Poulsen have a long and strange history together.  Both were convicted of felonies relating to computer hacking:  Poulsen in 1994 (when he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, ironically because a friend turned government informant on him), and Lamo in 2004 for hacking intoThe New York Times.  When the U.S. Government was investigating Lamo in 2003, they subpoenaed news agencies for any documents reflecting conversations not only with Lamo, but also with Poulsen.  That’s because Lamo typically sought media publicity after his hacking adventures, and almost always used Poulsen to provide that publicity.

Despite being convicted of serious hacking felonies, Poulsen was allowed by the U.S. Government to become a journalist covering the hacking world for Security Focus News. Back in 2002, Information Week described the strange Lamo-Poulsen relationship this way:  ”To publicize his work, [Lamo] often tapped ex-hacker-turned-journalist Kevin Poulsen as his go-between:  Poulsen contacts the hacked company, alerts it to the break-in, offers Lamo’s cooperation, then reports the hack on the SecurityFocus Online Web site, where he’s a news editor.”  When Lamo hacked into the NYT, it was Poulsen who notified the newspaper’s executives on Lamo’s behalf, and then wrote about it afterward.  Poulsen told me that the above picture was taken at a lunch the two of them had together with convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick back in 2001.  When I asked Poulsen if he considers Lamo his friend, he would respond only by saying:  ”He’s a subject and a source.” [Emphasis added]

Note Greenwald’s formulation here. Poulsen and Lamo are not to be trusted because they were both convicted of hacking — I think they call that “shoot the messenger.” And it is somehow “strange” and suspicious that one convicted hacker would gravitate toward a former hacker turned journalist to publicize his exploits. In fact, there are lots of instances of sources preferring a single news outlet or reporter to disgorge information to. Isn’t that the entire basis of Bob Woodward’s career? Greenwald even goes after Lamo’s mental health in his post, actually questioning his Asperger’s diagnosis claim and seeming to deride him as some combination of mentally unstable and insatiably publicity-mad. All of that just strikes me as an unnecessary ad hominem by Mr. Greenwald against a journalist who got information that frankly, he couldn’t. But it’s the second paragraph above that is more troubling. Greenwald says the government “allowed” Poulsen to become a journalist despite his felonious record. Someone should read Mr. Greenwald, who though he lives overseas most of the time is still an American-educated lawyer — a copy of the U.S. Constitution. The government doesn’t “allow” such things.

Moving on, we get closer to what seems to be the true source of Greenwald’s anger:

It was just over two weeks after writing about Lamo’s Asperger’s, depression and hacking history that Poulsen, along with Kim Zetter, reported that PFC Manning had been detained, after, they said, he had “contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail.”  Lamo told me that Manning first emailed him on May 20 and, according to highly edited chat logs released by Wired, had his first online chat with Manning on May 21; in other words, Manning first contacted Lamo the very day that Poulsen’sWired article on Lamo’s involuntary commitment appeared (the Wired article is time-stamped 5:46 p.m. on May 20).

Lamo, however, told me that Manning found him not from the Wired article — which Manning never mentioned reading — but from searching the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, which led him to a tweet Lamo had written that included the word “WikiLeaks.” Even if Manning had really found Lamo through a Twitter search for “WikiLeaks,” Lamo could not explain why Manning focused on him, rather than the thousands of other people who have also mentioned the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, including countless people who have done so by expressing support for WikiLeaks. [Emphasis added]

“Countless people” like, say, Glenn Greenwald, maybe?

Greenwald is fixating on  how Lamo and Manning’s chats came to be, in part because he apparently is angry at Lamo for betraying Pfc Manning, who Greenwald considers a hero. Another excerpt:

Although none of the Wired articles ever mention this, the first Lamo-Manning communications were not actually via chat.  Instead, Lamo told me that Manning first sent him a series of encrypted emails which Lamo was unable to decrypt because Manning “encrypted it to an outdated PGP key of mine” [PGP is an encryption program].  After receiving this first set of emails, Lamo says he replied — despite not knowing who these emails were from or what they were about — by inviting the emailer to chat with him on AOL IM, and provided his screen name to do so.  Lamo says that Manning thereafter sent him additional emails encrypted to his current PGP key, but that Lamo never bothered to decrypt them.  Instead, Lamo claims he turned over all those Manning emails to the FBI without ever reading a single one of them.  Thus, the actual initial communications between Manning and Lamo — what preceded and led to their chat — are completely unknown.  Lamo refuses to release the emails or chats other than the small chat snippets published byWired.

Using the chat logs between Lamo and Manning — which Lamo provided to Poulsen — the Wired writers speculated that the Army Private trusted Lamo because he “sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker.”  Poulsen and Zetter write that Manning confessed to being the leaker of the Apache attack video “very quickly in the exchange,” and then proceeded to boast that, in addition, ”he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables” to WikiLeaks.  Very shortly after the first chat, Lamo notified federal agents of what Manning told him, proceeded to speak to Manning for the next several days while consulting with federal agents, and then learned that Manning was detained in Iraq.

* * * * *

Many of the bizarre aspects of this case, at least as conveyed by Lamo andWired, are self-evident.  Why would a 22-year-old Private in Iraq have unfettered access to 250,000 pages of diplomatic cables so sensitive that they “could do serious damage to national security?”  Why would he contact a total stranger, whom he randomly found from a Twitter search, in order to “quickly” confess to acts that he knew could send him to prison for a very long time, perhaps his whole life?  And why would he choose to confess over the Internet, in an unsecured, international AOL IM chat, given the obvious ease with which that could be preserved, intercepted or otherwise surveilled?  These are the actions of someone either unbelievably reckless or actually eager to be caught.

And then we get to the heart of the matter (emphasis not added by me):

All that said, this series of events isn’t completely implausible.  It’s possible that a 22-year-old who engaged in these kinds of significant leaks, sitting in isolation in Iraq, would have a desire to unburden himself by confessing to a stranger; the psychological compulsion to confess is not uncommon (seeCrime and Punishment), nor is the desire to boast of such acts.  It’s possible that he would have expected someone with Lamo’s hacking and “journalist” background to be sympathetic to what he did and/or to feel compelled as a journalist not to run to the Government and disclose what he learns from a source.  Still, the apparent ease with which Manning quickly spilled his guts in such painstaking detail over an Internet chat concerning such serious crimes — and then proceeded to respond to Lamo’s very specific and probing interrogations over days without ever once worrying that he could not trust Lamo — is strange in the extreme.

If one assumes that this happened as the Wired version claims, what Lamo did here is despicable.  He holds himself out as an “award-winning journalist” and told Manning he was one (“I did tell him that I worked as a journalist,”Lamo said).  Indeed, Lamo told me (though it doesn’t appear in the chat logs published by Wired) that he told Manning early on that he was a journalist and thus could offer him confidentiality for everything they discussed under California’s shield law.  Lamo also said he told Manning that he was an ordained minister and could treat Manning’s talk as a confession, which would then compel Lamo under the law to keep their discussions confidential (early on in their chats, Manning said:  ”I can’t believe what I’m confessing to you”).  In sum, Lamo explicitly led Manning to believe he could trust him and that their discussions would be confidential — perhaps legally required to be kept confidential — only to then report everything Manning said to the Government.

Worse, Lamo breached his own confidentiality commitments and turned informant without having the slightest indication that Manning had done anything to harm national security. Indeed, Lamo acknowledged to me that he was incapable of identifying a single fact contained in any documents leaked by Manning that would harm national security.  And Manning’s capacity to leak in the future was likely non-existent given that he told Lamo right away that he was “pending discharge” for “adjustment disorder,” and no longer had access to any documents (Lamo: “Why does your job afford you access?” - Manning: “because i have a workstation . . .*had*“).

If one believes what the chat logs claim, Manning certainly thought he was a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives, and probably was exactly that.  And if he really is the leaker of the Apache helicopter attack video — a video which sparked very rare and much-needed realization about the visceral truth of what our wars entail — then he’s a national hero similar to Daniel Ellsberg.

So what Greenwald is really upset about is what he sees as Lamo conning Manning into making damning admissions, and then turning Manning in to the authorities. He seems to want the chat logs in order to confirm or deny whether Lamo told Manning he was a journalist, or promised him confidentiality, not, it seems to me, to confirm or deny information about a special FTP protocol Julian Assange may have provided to Manning. Greenwald, who apparently at one point was attempting to secure a lawyer for Manning, is targeting Lamo — and smearing both him and Mr. Poulsen, because he faults them for Manning’s detention, when in Greenwald’s eyes, Manning is a hero. I could be wrong, but that’s what I get from Greenwald’s post.

Greenwald goes on to cite Ellsberg and “other Internet commenters” — who turn out to be these random people — who agree with him about Manning. And you can certainly find plenty of people lionizing both Pfc Manning and Julian Assange.

But whether or not you consider them to be heroes or villains, none of that gets to what responsibility Wired might have to release its work product — and disgorge the chat logs wholesale, ironically, the way Wikileaks might do. To my reading, they have no such obligation.

Greenwald is essentially asking Wired to provide him with the additional background research he needs to prove his theories, about the government’s collusion in attacking Wikileaks, and about Lamo’s alleged mendacity in his dealings with Manning. Why is Wired obligated to do that? Greenwald has had contact with Lamo, and presumably could do so again. He has every right to pursue his questions with him. Wired doesn’t appear to have much journalistic obligation to help him — and thus, to help a rival publication. They certainly could do so, if they wish to, but I don’t think they have an obligation to. Does Bob Woodward have an obligation to share full transcripts of the interviews he’s done for his books, if some other author comes up with contradictory information from the same source? I’m no expert, but I would say not.

Back to Mr. Hounshell, who writes [with my emphasis added]:

Reporters generally don’t consider it their business to fact-check claims made by sources in other publications. They look for ways to advance a story, or move on to other topics if there doesn’t seem to be any “news” to be had. They also generally do weigh the harm that will come of too much disclosure against the value of the information to be disclosed. And they judiciously husband their scarcest resource: time.

I think some combination of all that is what is going on here, in addition to the bad blood that has been generated by Greenwald’s unfortunate impugnment of Poulsen’s integrity and his motives. Would it be relatively easy for Wired to take a look at the specific claims Lamo has made and check them against the logs? Probably. Would it be worth someone’s time there? Maybe. Do I wish Poulsen would just directly address the seeming contradictions in Lamo’s statements, in a way that protects what shred of privacy Manning has left? Yes. (In fact I emailed him this morning hoping to talk with him about it myself.) But at this point, I doubt it will happen.

I doubt it too. And I doubt this fight will end any time soon.

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26 Responses to CORRECTED: The Wikiwars: What is Glenn Greenwald after, and must Wired help him find it?

  1. Bob says:

    Stop trying to drag it into the gutter you buffoon. There is no justification for Wired witholding the chat logs. End of story.

  2. Flo says:

    If you disagree with Glenn, his minions will call you a buffoon and worse. And how dare Wired not do as Glenn asks?

  3. Neto says:

    Glenn is not his supporters either. So you can’t shove the whole issue sarcastically because some followers act a certain way.

  4. Flo says:

    But Neto, Glenn’s own MO is to attack and bury in verbiage anyone who disagrees with him. He’s a smart man, it’s too bad he lowers himself.

  5. La Rana says:

    This has got to be the worst commentary on this story yet.

    Its blindingly obvious what Greenwald is after. He wants to know if the chat logs confirm or deny what Lamo and Paulson have been saying, because there are a number of inexplicable inconsistencies.

    Rather than examine that, you launch into an entire projection about “what [] Greenwald [is] really after,” with a meandering series of quote mining to discover “what Greenwald is really upset about ” and “what seems to be the true source of Greenwald’s anger.”

    What Greenwald has said is perfectly clear, but instead of engaging that you provide only long winded hand-waiving by imagining his “real” motives. What you and FLO have in common is neither of you seems at all interested in the issue you claim to be discussing. Its pathetic.

  6. JReid says:

    LaRana –
    You haven’t answered, and apparently cannot, why Wired is required to confirm statements made to Greenwald. Wired doesn’t work for Salon, has no fiduciary duty to Mr. Greenwald and isn’t required to fact check, or provide him with their work product in order for him to fact check a mutual source. Period. Feel free to insult me, but kindly answer that question while you’re at it.

  7. journalism 101 says:

    The duties of journalists vary depending on the identity of their source. At the top of priorities is protecting people(s). Sometimes the most effective way is to leak entire classified documents of various govs or corporations. Sometimes the most effective way is to redact personal information to protect an individuals privacy. Corporations and governements have a responsibility to be transparent & accountable, they have to be held to a higher standard than any individual because they have more power. So the moral highground in this case goes to

  8. JReid says:

    Journalism 101:
    Agreed. Well said.

  9. Josha says:

    JReid wrote:

    “You haven’t answered, and apparently cannot, why Wired is required to confirm statements made to Greenwald.”

    I believe Greenwald’s interview example was only one of many where there were inconsistencies in Lamo’s telling of the Manning affair. As Lamo is providing interviews with conflicting tellings then it is valuable to know what is accurate. Seeing that Wired won’t release the full chat logs, regardless the reason, Wired then has a responsibility to confirm or deny what Lamo is saying in the public sphere. I’d expect any respectable news source to act similarly once presented with the amount of evidence that Greenwald compiled and presented.

  10. La Rana says:

    Who said anything about “required”? I find it hilarious that in response to my accusation that you are projecting instead of focusing on what has actually occured, you demand I respond to a strawman. Seriously?

    The issue is that Wired is in a unique position to confirm or deny certain public statements and accusations, but is refusing to do so for no justifiable reason. This is literally the opposite of what a journalist does. Wired has no “requirement” to do anything, but they aren’t acting like journalists (check out some of the tweets from journalism professors), and appear to be hiding something, for some reason. Why? Fire up your projection machine to figure out what is really motivating them.

    Journalism 101′s ability to string together unrelated declarative statements notwithstanding, the idea that Wired is protecting Manning’s privacy is ridiculous. Why can’t wired publish the logs while redacting personal information? Why can’t wired even describe whats in the logs? Why does wired deflect every attempt to understand anything about the 75% of the logs and refuse to even comment on their contents? This obviously has nothing to do with respecting privacy, and makes even less sense since Wapo has already revealed non-personal information from the unreleased logs.

    Try again.

  11. jreid says:

    “Why can’t wired publish the logs while redacting personal information? Why can’t wired even describe whats in the logs? Why does wired deflect every attempt to understand anything about the 75% of the logs and refuse to even comment on their contents? This obviously has nothing to do with respecting privacy, and makes even less sense since Wapo has already revealed non-personal information from the unreleased logs. ”

    – because they are not required to and whether or not they choose to is purely at their discretion. You have no “right” to know what’s in those logs. Asked and answered. Journalists’ work product is not in the public domain. They can act as you wish them to, or not. And you can kick and scream and hold your breath until you turn blue demanding that they behave as you wish “journalists” would, and they would still not be obligated to oblige you.

    Read the first Amendment, then let’s talk again.

  12. Josha says:

    Ok, settled. We all agree that Wired is not “required” to publish the chat logs, La Rana wrote to that. But what is “required” isn’t what the controversy is about.

    JReid, in general do you think it would be valuable background info (on one of the year’s most important news stories) to know if what Lamo is saying in the public sphere is true, false, or something in between?

    I ask the question knowing that one particular issue is moot: Poulsen already tweeted that there is nothing more to the ‘secure FTP’. Therefore, Lamo’s telling of the secure FTP has been inaccurate.

  13. jreid says:

    Josha -
    As far as I’ve been able to tell, the only relevant facts in dispute re Lamo are the secure FTP, which has been answered, and whether there is additional information in the chat logs that would prove or disprove that Manning had contact with Julian Assange. Wired’s editors have said there is no such info in the chat logs.

    That leaves only Greenwald’s claim that Lamo misled Manning by claiming to be a journalist, and promising him anonymity. While that might be important to Manning’s defense, I suppose (although I doubt it would be exculpatory if he indeed admitted to crimes) it is NOT vital to the story. Would be interesting, or in your words “valuable” to have those logs pubic? Yeah. I’d love to have the lot of them myself. I’d also love to have transcripts of Bob Woodward’s interviews with the Bush gang, but I’m not gonna get those either.

    I have done interviews with lots of people, and I used the relevant parts of those interviews in stories or columns. Would it be interesting for folks to see my full interview logs? Yes. Would I release them, and in the process disgorge all sorts of interesting, possibly private, but mainly irrelevant info about my subjects and sources? Hell no. Nope. Nein.

    And Wired is well within journalistic norms to do the same. BTW even if they’re doing it because they’re holding back the best stuff for a book — even that would be totally legit. Unless you’re law enforcement, or Manning’s attorney, you have no right to the logs. It’s totally at Wired’s discretion to release them, or not.

  14. jreid says:

    … and one more thing: the people tarring Wired as somehow un-journalistic for not posting their work product just to satisfy Glen Greenwald — an open advocate for Manning as a “hero” — don’t understand journalism. Wired is NOT Glenn Greenwald’s fact checking house.

  15. drag0n says:

    “o Greenwald has deemed Lamo “untrustworthy.” On what does he base that? The fact that he and Poulsen were hackers, mostly, which seems to me to be an attack on their character, wholly apart from what Poulsen achieved journalistically.”

    Well, there is also the issue of another set of logs that was posted that raises question’s of Lamo’s trustworthiness as a witness:

    These, purportedly, are logs between a close friend of Lamo’s, Lamo’s wife Lauren and Lamo himself.

  16. Josha says:

    Hello JReid,

    One relevant fact in dispute, the FTP server, would not have come to light were it not for GG. And GG raises other questions that I too am curious about:

    “…inconsistencies in Lamo’s many public tales about the critical issues: how he came to speak to Manning, what Lamo did to induce these disclosures, and what Manning said about his relationship to WikiLeaks and his own actions…”

    I think these are relevant and reasonable questions, the answers to which I think many (myself included) would like to know. If these answers aren’t in the chat logs then in the interest of public disclosure I think Wired would do well to simply say so (knowing full well they are not “required” to do so).

    Furthermore, given that Wired is one of the few (the only?) source with the entre to answer the above questions above. it seems GG has given fodder to Poulsen and Wired for further investigation with a rapt audience hungry to read any findings.

    Finally, no one that I’ve read has called for complete and/or indiscriminant release of the chat logs. Given the blogs, tweets, and stories I’ve read people seem quite satisfied to have redacted logs or simply public confirmations/denials. Given the import of this case I don’t think it’s too much to ask of Wired’s staff. I don’t see this as being GG’s “fact checking house”, rather I see this as the magazine responding to one of its interested readers — me.

  17. jreid says:

    Again, what Lamo said to induce Manning to talk is only relevant to Manning’s defense (and thus to Greenwald, who has involved himself in procuring a defense for Manning.) It isn’t relevant to the story, or at least Wired didn’t deem it relevant.

    The relevant fact is that Manning did make this disclosures to Lamo — which is not in dispute — and that in Greenwald’s own words, Manning chose to disclose government data to a third party because he, an Army private, decided it was in his purview to decide what the public has a right to know about government operations. Oppose or support that if you like, but while it would be interesting to find out if Lamo pulled a fast one on Manning to get him to open up, it is not — not — relevant to the disclosures Manning made.

    Greenwald wants to know because he deems Manning a hero, and wants to use the info to discredit Lamo. That’s pretty clear from his posts. And Wired’s editors have made it clear that what is left in the chat logs is IRRELEVANT, PERSONAL info that likely could embarrass not just Lamo, but Manning as well.

    Releasing info for the prurient interest of the public, or to serve some political purpose — in this case making Manning look sympathetic by making Lamo look like a sheister — is very Wikileaks, and maybe even would be a great read. But it isn’t in any moral sense, an obligation of Wired.

  18. jreid says:

    @Josha –
    What we’re essentially saying here is that Wired has something of value — the full, unredacted chat logs with Manning — and that they should release them to the public, because you, and Greenwald and some other Manning supporters wish to see them.

    As these are NOT in the commons, and not public domain, Wired is not under any obligation to do that. And they would in fact be both crazy, and burning their source (Lamo) if they did. I think their position is perfectly rational. Glenn is playing the part of Bianca Jagger — demanding that Wired prove or disprove his theories and confirm his suspicions about Lamo by giving up even redacted versions of the logs. Not cool.

  19. La Rana says:

    This is hilarious. The answer to why Wired can’t so much as comment on the contents of the logs is because they are not required to. What a strange world you live in. Can you only eat when impending starvation requires it?

    I am not sure why this is so hard to understand, but (as I have already written) neither I nor Greenwald nor anyone else has a “right” to see whats in the logs. The issue is why Wired is actively concealing, with no legitimate basis, unique information that would shed light on an issue of great public interest, especially when doing so is the purpose of their claimed profession. In short (I’m trying to make it nice and simple for you): do they have to do this? No. Should they do this? Yes. Obviously. That is literally what a journalist does.

    You seem to think that a journalists’ only responsibility is to themselves (“even if they’re doing it because they’re holding back the best stuff for a book — even that would be totally legit”), that they do not exist to inform the public, that aiding the search for truth is not their function. That is literally the primary and most incontrovertible characteristic of a journalist, akin to a doctor doing no harm, and yet you and wired flatly reject this utterly foundational element of the profession.

    Even more embarrassing, your response is simply to repeat strawmans about requiring them to do something, or that this has something to do with greenwald personally. I fully expect you to respond to this with another attempt to evade the issue or create another strawman, but at least your readers should see what it is you are doing.

    *It does not appear that you have read Greenwald’s posts. If you had, you’d notice that there are several more inconsistencies in what Lamo has said. And cute of you to elide the fact that the editors only confirmed that little bit about Lamo AFTER Greenwald caused a shitstorm.*

  20. NOYGDB says:

    @La Rana

    Wired has already stated that the rest of the log does not contain any information relevant to Wikileaks. Why are you accusing them of hiding something when you have no prove they actually are?

  21. La Rana says:

    In response to Greenwald’s pressure, they said that. This does not really reflect on what I have been saying to Reid, which was explaining why Wired was wrong to conceal that in the first place. Morevoer, and just as importantly, they have still refused to clarify a number of Lamo’s contradictory statements about Manning and the logs. The logs may clarify these issues, but Wired has not only refused to say what the logs say, but whether the logs would provide any clarification at all.

  22. Matt Osborne says:

    “The Curious Case of the Log in the Mainframe”

    According to Greenwald’s own account of Lamo’s actions he (A) was contacted by Manning (B) told the feds (C) talked to Manning for a couple of days after that while they closed their grip. Now, Greenwald doesn’t think (C) naturally follows (B), but that is *exactly* what a federal agent would probably tell Lamo to do. Lying is a standard investigative technique. What’s hilarious is watching Greenwald defend Citizens United as a “civil libertarian.”

    Those diplomatic cables were classified SECRET NOFORN, which is about as exciting as Miller Lite bottles in a bar; so the question of Manning’s workstation access is silly. It’s actually *not* surprising to find such material in the Army’s classified workstations. Cables sometimes include locations and names, for instance, so an analyst might sift variables to match those things.

    But I think this long stretch from Greenwald isn’t about Manning at all. Rather, I suspect it is all about Greenwald’s obsessive need to be correct at all times.

  23. Frantisek says:

    Jreid, please visit

    At the bottom you will find a large list of claims by Lamo et al that can not be confirmed by the logs that were published so far.

    Continuing to not answer questions about these claims means that Wired intentionally cover for Lamo. You might still think that Wired has every right to cover for Lamo, but please do not call that Journalism.

  24. jreid says:

    Just finished reading the links provided by Dragon and Frantisek. I see nothing in either post that gives me reason to find Mr. Lamo “untrustworthy.” If he said things to make Manning more comfortable talking, or even invoked the shield law, so what? Manning was under no duress and didn’t have to tell him anything. And not for nothing, but Manning didn’t have to steal all those cables and hand them over to Wikileaks, either. If the issue is whether he was being discharged under DADT, is the issue that Manning’s supporters object to his being forced out of the Army for being gay? No offense, but I think that’s probably the least of his troubles, from a legal standpoint. I see nothing that changes my mind on this issue. Sorry.

  25. Pingback: The war over Bradley Manning : The Reid Report

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