In an instant messaging session in June 2010, Adrian Lamo, the hacker who turned over former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning to U.S. authorities, told Manning that he was "a journalist and a minister" and to treat their conversation "as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection." With Manning in military detention for allegedly releasing secrets to Wikileaks and Lamo on just about every information activist's black list, it's a stark reminder of how different things are for both men 15 months after Manning's arrest and 13 months after the conversations with Lamo. Wired today published a ream of IM transcripts of conversations between Manning and Lamo, which reveal deeply personal details about Manning. It's a follow-up to an earlier batch of chats Wired released in June 2010. Reporter Evan Hansen wrote in today's post that he decided to release the rest of the logs after their content began appearing elsewhere in the media. Last week, New York magazine published a lengthy feature on Manning, which revealed much of the information in the logs. Wired had chosen to keep the latest chat logs a secret because they didn't have much bearing on the Wikileaks case, and their publication could have been an invasion of Manning's privacy.
We now believe that independent reporting elsewhere has tipped the scale in favor of publishing. By all evidence, Manning is a figure of historic importance. Inasmuch as the conversations shed light on the personal pressures in Manning’s life at the time of his arrest, publishing the logs serves a valid news interest, and at this point we believe it will cause little additional harm to Manning’s privacy.
Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who has been a vocal critic of Lamo and Wired since the magazine broke the Lamo-Manning story last year, hasn't yet addressed the latest release on Salon. But he's been active on Twitter today. "Wired finally releases the (almost) full Lamo-Manning chat logs -- much to say, much revealed," he tweeted. Then, in reference to Lamo's claim that he was a journalist and their conversation was protected, "Wired had no conceivable justification to conceal that their source made that promise by not publishing it."
Regardless of your opinion on Wired's decision, it's true that much of Manning's most personal details have been coming out in recent months as his online life becomes the focus of media attention. In addition to the information in the New York article, Frontline shared his Facebook news feed on its Web site in May. That revealed some personal details about Manning's sexuality and relationship with the Army. The most recent chat logs reveal some of the most intimate details yet about Manning's personal life. Below, we've reproduced some exerpts from the mass of text on Wired, but it would be worthwhile to read them in their entirety.
In a discussion about Manning's sexuality, Lamo tells him he is a journalist and a priest:
(10:19:00 AM) bradass87: im kind of coming out of a cocoon… its going to take some time, but i hopefully wont be a ghost anymore
(10:19:53 AM) email@example.com: You mentioned gender identity, I believe.
(10:19:59 AM) bradass87: ive had an unusual, and very stressful experience over the last decade or so
(10:20:53 AM) bradass87: yes… questioned my gender for several years… sexual orientation was easy to figure out… but i started to come to terms with it during the first few months of my deployment
(10:21:09 AM) firstname.lastname@example.org: May I ask the particulars?
(10:21:34 AM) email@example.com: I’m bi myself, and my ex is MTF.
(10:21:34 AM) bradass87: im fairly open… but careful, so yes..
(10:22:00 AM) bradass87: im aware of your bi part
(10:22:24 AM) bradass87: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning
(10:23:34 AM) firstname.lastname@example.org: I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.
Manning shares some troubling and deeply personal details from his past, saying he got "pretty messed up at school," and that "home was the same."
(11:36:34 AM) bradass87: my father in a drunken stupor got angry with me because i was doing some noisy homework while he was watching TV… he went into his bedroom, pulled out a shotgun, and chased me out of the house… the door was deadbolted, so i couldn’t get out before he caught up with me… so my mother (also wasted) threw a lamp over his head… and i proceeded to fight him, breaking his nose, and made it out of the house… my father let off one or two shots, causing damage, but injuring nobody, except for the belt lashing i got for “making him shoot up the house”
(11:36:59 AM) bradass87: i went to school the next day, and my teachers noticed the wounds, and got social workers involved
(11:37:11 AM) bradass87: he immediately stopped drinking, and my mother filed for divorce
(11:37:29 AM) bradass87: after the divorce, my mother attempted suicide…