Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

Summary: There are some question about the details of Lamo's involvement, Manning's actions, and Wikileak's role in all of this.

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TOPICS: Collaboration, CXO
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Last week, I wrote about the odd story of U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. He apparently passed classified secrets to Wikileaks, a site dedicated to releasing "sensitive materials" to the public.

I wrote about the moral and ethical issues Wikileaks needs to deal with in order to be good citizens of society. I also wrote about the strange story of Manning's contact with noted hacker Adrian Lamo.

Blogging is a different sort of process than investigative research. When I wrote my book about White House email, I spent a year on that project. I spent a full six months writing just the first third of How To Save Jobs. But when I write a blog post, I generally have less than a day to put a story together.

So, when I wrote my story on Wikileaks and Lamo last week, I took details from trusted sources, like Wired Magazine and The New York Times. Since I didn't have the time to investigate every detail, I linked back to the original stories so you could follow the trail as far as you wanted.

As it turns out, there are some question about the details of Lamo's involvement, Manning's actions, and Wikileak's role in all of this. The whole mess seems to have become something of a cause célèbre for certain antiwar protesters.

I learned of this because I started to get threatening email messages from these so-called peace-lovers. I find the cognitive disconnect between the idea that people claim to want peace and yet advocate violence to be strange in the extreme. It's as baffling as people who call themselves "pro life" and then go off and murder doctors.

In any case, the antiwar crowd apparently set about doing their best to debunk my ethical analysis article, which basically said that Wikileaks needed to have some ethics in order to prevent possible loss of life.

The antiwar mafia started by extracting sentences from my article and misrepresenting them on various Web sites. For example, I said something to the effect of "you might think blah, but that would be simplistic" and they wrote "he's simplistic because he says blah".

On both Web sites and in email messages, they tried to debunk my analysis by discussing my upbringing, my family, my professional affiliations, my appearance (yes, I know, I have a face for radio), making anti-Semitic comments, and even criticizing the nonprofit I volunteer for -- whose only crime against humanity has been trying to help create jobs for Americans.

(Last week was interesting...I got a similar spew of hate mail for an article I wrote about buying an iPad. The Apple fanboy hate mail was a little less threatening and far more stylish, but, still...people are craazy!)

The weird thing is I'm not particularly in favor of war. Most military and national security people aren't. I think the Iraq war was highly inadvisable, and I'm deeply concerned that Afghanistan has turned into the longest war in American history. It's weird. You'd think that if the antiwar fascists wanted me to see their side, they might want to find out if I already do -- and not set about doing their best to portray me as the enemy.

These are important issues and difficult times. We need to discuss these issues, look at them from all sides, and evaluate them based on their individual merits. When sites with particular political leanings take real information and distort it simply for the purpose of feeding red meat to their audiences, that diminishes all our efforts. It's disappointing and ill-advised.

Fortunately, not everyone is nuts. On Friday, a reader sent me a link to a story in Salon by attorney Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald poses many solid questions about Lamo's story and the veracity of the entire situation.

Greenwald does a rather thorough investigation into the Lamo/Wikileaks issue and concludes that the details don't fully make sense when taken as a whole. It's an interesting and thorough piece of writing. While his bias is somewhat suspect (Salon, like Huffington Post is notoriously liberal -- and I don't trust liberal bias anymore than I trust conservative bias like you'd see on Fox News), his investigation is worth reading.

I'm not going to revisit my analysis of Wikileaks' ethics. I stand by my statement that they must sometimes refrain from releasing certain things they get their hands on, and some consideration needs to be made as to the effect of their actions. I also stand by my statement that Wikileaks is doing important work and should be protected -- unless they put lives at risk.

But I do think it's worth looking at these issues from all sides. I also think it's worth realizing that everything may not be as it first seems. While I can't tell you whether the Wired account is more accurate than the Salon account, I can now tell you the Manning/Lamo/Wikileaks story is curious, unclear, and certainly strange.

Go ahead and comment, but please do try to be civil about it. I've had enough hate mail to last me a while.

Topics: Collaboration, CXO

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Greenwald's story pokes holes in Lamo's account

    "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."<br><br>"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."<br><br>The most obvious answer is that Lamo is a PR obsessed liar, who contacted Manning himself, lied about who he was (claiming to be a "journalist"), convinced Manning to share information with him under false pretenses, and did so either acting as an investigator for the government, or to satisfy his desire to see his own name in print, or some combination of the two.<br><br>As Greenwald points out about Manning: "That's a whistleblower in the purest form: discovering government secrets of criminal and corrupt acts and then publicizing them to the world not for profit, not to give other nations an edge, but to trigger "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms." That's the person that Adrian Lamo informed on and risked sending to prison for an extremely long time."<br><br>So unless you are a government agent, with blinders on and a relationship to nuanced reality akin to Dick Cheney's, then asserting that Lamo 'did the right thing' is really out there.<br><br>Gerwirtz, like everyone, has to pay the rent, and that often means cozying up to people you don't like very much.<br><br>If he now takes the facts that are coming to light about Lamo's misrepresentations and continues to label Lamo as the responsible party, then you have to wonder whether he's being honest, or saying what he needs to say for reasons other than ethical propriety.
    HollywoodDog
  • Must See viewing

    I like to viddy the old films now & again, and this weekend I watched the timely "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" (http://www.mostdangerousman.org/)

    When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, he revealed that every president going back to Eisenhower had been systematically lying through their teeth about Vietnam, that they'd all been working in every way possible to get that war started and keep it going, resulting in the deaths of millions of people. The release of the Pentagon Papers exposed as meritless all the arguments the government had been making about the case for the war, and in so doing shortened it, which no doubt saved millions more lives.

    The most poignant moment for me was Ellsberg describing his conversion to Ghandi's dictum that noncooperation with evil is a duty.

    Is there a shred of doubt in anyone's mind that when - if - our current wars are ever concluded that it will come out in due course that every person in a position of responsibility in our government knows full well that our wars are unwinnable, that the resistance in those countries will never give up, and that continuing the war is simply condemning an endless stream of young Americans to death?

    If it makes people feel better to label me a 'fascist' for asking that question, label away.

    The wars, for all intents and purposes, were over a long time ago. The handwriting is on the wall. All that's left is the dying.
    HollywoodDog
    • Not Fascist

      @HollywoodDog
      If people are calling you a fascist, they are wrong, and you should call them on it. It would be hard for a pro-peace person to be a fascist. Neo-con nation builders are more accurately fascist.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism
      colinnwn
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      [i]it will come out in due course that every person in a position of responsibility in our government knows full well that our wars are unwinnable, [/i]

      Any war is winnable. You just need to be willing to do [b]anything[/b] to achieve the victory.

      If you're not ready to do that, find a different game.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

        And why the battle against Micro$oft will continue....
        ubiquitous one
  • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

    Dear Mr. Gewirtz :

    (1.) I cannot speak for people posting on your ZDNet blog, who might have engaged in personal attacks or other off-topic, ad hominem or irrelevant statements. All I can honestly say is that I have not done so, nor would any responsible critic who disagreed with the overall message of your original article.

    Note that the foregoing does NOT apply to postings by belligerent, right-wing U.S. partisans who post nonsense statements such as "...America will crush you...". Stupid threats like that can be expected to be followed up by equally angry replies. The American right wing is used to a "discussion" in which vitriol on their part, is met with meek, self-apologetic comments by U.S. liberals.

    Sorry - in the rest of the world, we don't come to battles where only one side is allowed to fight. We don't play by your self-serving rules of engagement.

    (2.) What this whole episode vividly shows, is the huge disconnect between the kind of discourse that goes on internally within the United States - where the only "legitimate" topic for discussion is the MEANS by which the U.S. dominates, invades and despoils the planet, not America's basic MOTIVES in so doing - and the debate in the rest of the world, where your country is very frequently seen as the "bad guy", the aggressor, the oppressor, the exploiter, the sponsor of state terrorism, and so on.

    I'm sorry if Americans are so fantastically insular that they're completely unable to relate to any of this, but it's fundamentally not my problem, and if you know what's good for your country in the long term, you'll try to make Americans understand that we don't automatically start from the assumption that "what's good for America, is good for the rest of the world" - in fact, based on your country's appalling track record (Iran, 1954, Vietnam, Chile, Cuba, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc.) we usually start from the assumption that the opposite is the case.

    Nowhere has this been more clear than in the Wikileaks situation, where what may be considered to be "good" from America's parochial POV - namely, "censoring evidence of our soldiers, engaged in a criminal war of illegal occupation against Iraq, committing war atrocities against the helpless civilians of that state" - is obviously "bad" from the perspective of non-Americans, particularly those of us who (like myself) have some interest in maintaining basic standards of human rights and the rule of international law.

    If the government of your country doesn't like this kind of dirty laundry being leaked, then it should stop engaging in illegal wars of aggression and war crimes, publicly apologize and make restitution to your victims, and never do these things again. As long as America defiantly proclaims the "right" to engage in conduct that would be considered criminal and reprehensible if performed by any other country, you can expect endless variations of both the Wikileaks / "Collateral Murder" saga, plus increasing rage throughout the rest of the world, directed against both your country and its citizens.

    (3.) The bottom line, sir, is that you live in a bad, evil, self-indulgent, selfish, resource-hungry nation that is a deadly threat to the human rights, security and safety of Third World civilians, across the globe. Your country does terrible things and has been doing them since at least the end of the Second World War.

    Want a "solution" to all this? Like all citizens of your country (honourable exception to the likes of Noam Chomsky), you should look in the mirror, Mr. Gewirtz.

    There's the "enemy". Too bad you can't recognize him. We do.
    AngerNotManaged
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged ... The topic seems to originally have been about the release of classified data and whether the fellow who did it is a criminal. Now it has morphed into a rant about the evils of the USA. On an objective note, should the USA decline to offer all humanitarian assistance and "foreign aid" from now on, would these third world civilians that you tout be better off?

      Your answer will not be objective, but laced with facetious finger pointing.
      notme403@...
      • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

        @notme403@...
        What a lame Answer , @AngerNotManaged was right, stop trying to turn it into a humanitarian issue etc, the imposters running America atm are doing bad things all around the world , answer 1 question how many US Army bases are there in the world?
        see here for an answer: http://www.alternet.org/world/97913/the_us_has_761_military_bases_across_the_planet,_and_we_simply_never_talk_about_it/
        johnpall@...
      • Not so fast

        @notme403@...
        Is the release of classified information illegal according to US government law? Yes. But that is irrelevant to non-US citizens; and it isn't the larger threat the US government is to many US citizens and non-US citizens alike.

        AngerNotManageds points were prescient, relevant, and on-topic.

        Regarding foreign aid, the US on a GDP basis is one of the smallest foreign aid contributors in the Western world. Many of our methods for providing it are either unintentionally distructive to the target nation, or are intentionally favorable to our interests, and not pure in the spirit of helping. So yes, it might be better off if we quit providing foreign aid. Though in a perfect world, I'd prefer if we quadrupled our foreign aid on a no-strings attached, carefully controlled model that didn't support ruthless factions in some of these target countries.
        colinnwn
      • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

        @johnpall@... There are a lot of US bases world wide. Good. Your logic ( if you can call it that ) correlates the number of US bases with the level of badness in the world. Should the US decide to take the same operational position as the Muslims, for instance, the rest of the world would already be a US territory. We could and would have already mercilessly destroyed all that stood in our way. We would not have lost more than a handful of soldiers in the Iraq war because Iraq would have been a smoking, glazed, lifeless, wasteland. But we use rules of engagement (as foolish as that sounds when applied to war) designed to protect civilian lives. In the peaceful communities of the world where there are US bases, for the most part there is a harmonious relationship which benefits both sides.
        notme403@...
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged I am sure that when we withdraw to our own corner of the continent that everyone else will enjoy their time under under the Islamic or Chinese hegemony far more.
      Bill4
    • Your view isn't fine enough.

      @AngerNotManaged The "Nation" isn't "bad," but rather it's just like every other nation that has found itself in a position of unchallengable power. It also has a hopelessly rotten political system in which power and law are for sale to the highest bidder.<br><br>These factors create the impression that the entire nation is evil, when really only the ultimate outcome of an interconnected web of failures is evil.<br><br>When Ellsberg was a boy his family was driving cross country, and his father fell asleep at the wheel, causing an accident which killed his mother and sister. He points out that his father wasn't evil, but just that he was insufficiently vigilant to do what it took to avoid falling in to a negligent state, and the result was catastrophe.<br><br>That's pretty much what we have here. If you're forming your opinions of the entire nation based on state-run media (ABC, CBS, NBC) or the carnival barkers and cheap charlatans on cable news, you're going to be very misled.<br><br>There are lots of well intentioned people here, and many more who would be well intentioned if not for their immersion in propaganda.<br><br>In a sense we're a nation of victims. Those who are engaged in wholesale mass murder and who are being killed in the wars are the biggest victims among us.
      HollywoodDog
      • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

        @HollywoodDog <br>I think he's smart enough to know that, <br>he could have been much more specific but the fact is the people running America atm are the ones sending the countries youth to death in their thousands (see the photo above) and you know they will have the big pomp ass ceremonies to pretend that these soldiers died for a just cause etc, they would'nt go into battle themselves they get others to do their dirty work.
        johnpall@...
    • AngerNotManaged

      Funny how you allways spew on about the US, yet <b>never</b> divulge exactlly where you live.
      John Zern
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged
      1) It sounded like the meek, self-apologetic liberals were the ones who turned fascist when the author did not agree with their agenda. And as far as I can recall, the last one I recall saying, "We will crush you!" was Mr. bin Laden. Before that, it was Mr. Kruschev. I'm not sure when you say "rules of engagement", if you mean verbal war or real war. I agree that in reality you cannot restrict the "combatants". However, there are norms and there are forms that are generally unacceptable.

      2) Nice diatribe. And not completely false. So as an American I agree we should look at our motives, and I think we do. While not forgetting the burden of the US to do what is right, let us examine the record of your country, if you have the courage to name it. Has it exhibited the transparency, the willingness to sacrifice for others, the protection of the rights of its citizens seen in America? If America today abandoned its role on the world stage, would those who would force an ideology on others suddenly become pacific?

      3) Again you make many charges which may have basis in fact to a greater or lesser degree. Where we are wrong (self-indulgence, selfishness and resource consumption, in particular) we ask forgiveness and strive to change. As far as I can tell, the US is usually at the forefront to try to protect human rights, and ensure the security and safety of Third World civilians. To be sure, in many cases the US has done what is wrong, and in due course we acknowledge and try to make amends. But you too easily overlook the good and humanitarian efforts in which we have also engaged. Yes, we see ourselves in the mirror and ask forgiveness when we have been wrong.

      Now I ask you, too, to hold up the mirror before you and your country. Is the picture any better than ours? What if you and your country were in a position of overwhelming power. Would you have used it better? I await your honest answer.
      JimboNobody
      • Bin Laden has apparently won

        @JimboNobody ... we've burned the law in order to save it, the economy is an unmitigated disaster, people have less faith in the US government or its leadership than they've ever had. We're in endless interminable wars which threaten to go on forever, and which are clearly unwinnable.

        Worse than all of that, our sense that America works, that tomorrow will be better than today, that we can accomplish things, has been destroyed. We're all hunkered down in our homes, with a scarcity mentality, and no sense of national unity.

        If you'd suggested to me on 9/11 that Bin Laden could actually win and destroy what we are, I'd have laughed at you. Damned if he hasn't done it.
        HollywoodDog
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged Some years ago (while the USSR was still a going concern) I was listening to a radio interview with a Defence Analyst, on modern weapons.

      He was talking about the development of smart ordinance. IE guided bombs, etc. He noted that the USA was the only country developing such weapons. He said that the USSR did not care about subsequent casualties if the target was eliminated. This also applies to countries other than the USSR. They don't care about collateral damage.

      In this fascinating interview (it was during the 80's I think) he went on to talk about how to oppose the US militarily. He said it is impossible for any army to oppose face to face the US military. They are too strong. What needs to be done is to maintain enough infrastructure inside the country, and resist through skirmish and sabotage, long enough for the US and World Press to arrive and report on the war. Then fight the war using public opinion.

      The US army develops smart weapons to win its PR war within the US borders, not to fight more efficient wars overseas.

      I've never read Wikileaks, nor even knew about the Bradley Manning affair. I'm not Democrat, nor Republican. In fact I'm Australian. It is far too easy to blame everything on the US. As they are the most reported nation on earth. However what about other nations, or administrations, behaviour? Bombing markets full of civilians (then having a second bomb set up to kill the rescuers)? Kneecapping neighbours that disagree with your ideas! Genocide! Child soldiers! and on, and on...
      I am Gorby
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged <br>You have --- stated exactly what i would of said, Bravo!
      johnpall@...
    • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

      @AngerNotManaged

      Wow, you are an arogant and ill informed individual. Which country is it you come from that is so perfect?

      All countries in a position of power and going to do and say things that are not popular to others with less, and they will inevitably make bad decisions and mistakes because perfection cannot be attained.

      For the most part americans are good people who want to do good for themselves their country and the world as a whole and because they disagree with your methods of getting there does not make them wrong or evil or the enemy. that is the thinking that starts wars, so why don't you take a long hard look in the mirror and recognize you like everyone has a right to their opinion but NO right to judge someone elses.

      BTW.. The ends no more justify the means because it is something you believe in than it does for any other cause or belief so get over yourself and Chomsky IS a facist.
      chadbo
  • RE: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck

    I'm surprised at how you throw the word, "Fascist," around so freely without knowing the meaning of the word. Look it up:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fascist

    I am antiwar. I'm not in the Mafia, and I'm not a fascist. I believe that all sides of an issue should be examined, however the United States government does not share my point of view.

    That's where Wikileaks comes in. For the most part, they provide a very valuable service for Democracy.
    akaltman@...