We here at FDL headquarters have spent a productive holiday season putting together data banks of information relevant to the Wikileaks-Bradley Manning- Adrian Lamo story. It feels like “Plame II, Electric Boogaloo,” because not since Scooter Libby has a story been so full of holes, contradictions and completely implausible events. And the journalism involved (if that’s what you want to call it) makes Judy Miller look like I.F. Stone.
Everything that is known about what Bradley Manning did comes via a single source, Adrian Lamo, and the chats he claims he had with Manning from May 21 through May 25, 2010. And almost ever day it seems, Lamo keeps “remembering” something else that they contain, which conveniently propels himself once again onto the front page of the New York Times.
So we decided to begin at the beginning and merged the various known versions of the chat logs to the best of our ability, and they’re now available here:
Adrian Lamo has apparently given chat logs to three different media outlets through direct or indirect means:
1. Wired Magazine: Wired claims that they were given the “whole unedited version” of the chat logs by Lamo on May 27, two days before his charging documents say Manning was arrested. They published excerpts from the logs on June 10, indicating this represents 25% of the total logs. They maintain that “the remainder is either Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information.” The portions that appear in Wired only are included in the merged logs in black text.
2. Washington Post: Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post also reports that Lamo also gave her “the logs of messages between Manning and Adrian Lamo.” Her June 10 article excerpts several parts that were not included in the Wired logs. However, those are not contextualized chronologically anywhere in the chat, and so they appear at the end of the logs in red. Portions that appear in both the Washington Post and in Wired are in pink text.
3. BoingBoing: On June 10, Adrian Lamo told Patrick Gray of the Australian radio show Risky Business that he had sent part of the chat logs to Wikileaks to see if they would publish them, as the logs contain an ostensible confession from Manning that he communicated with “a crazy white haired aussie,” Julian Assange. Lamo claims that this release was the one that found its way to Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing, who published it on June 19. Lamo subsequently told Jason Mick of Daily Tech that Wikileaks in the process had “outed” him as their source. Mick subsequently referenced the Risky Business tape to demonstrate that Lamo had outed himself and that anything Wikileaks could have done subsequent to that would amount to no more than confirmation. Portions that appear in BoingBoing alone are in brown, both BoingBoing and Wired are in blue, and both BoingBoing and the Washington Post are in orange.
Anything that appears in all three versions is in green.
- Black text – Wired version
- Red text – Washington Post
- Brown text – BoingBoing version
- Bold — sections BoingBoing believes to have been edited
- Orange text — Both Washington Post and BoingBoing
- Blue text – Both BoingBoing and Wired
- Pink text — Both Washington Post and Wired
- Green text — Washington Post, Wired & BoingBoing versions
Following the publication of these three versions, Lamo has made repeated claims about things that he knew from his chats with Manning that appear in no published version of the chat logs. Those are being appended to the bottom of the merged logs as we see them.
While it’s impossible to know whether the ostensibly complete versions of the chat logs given to Wired and the Washington Post were the same, there is one strange instance in which they appear to be somewhat different. Ellen Nakashima’s Washington Post article contains the following quote:
Ive been isolated so long . . . i just wanted to figure out ways to survive . . . smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything . . . no-one took any notice of me
It appears to be a curiously truncated version of something that appears in both the Wired and the BoingBoing versions:
ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything… no-one took any notice of me
While I suppose it’s possible that Manning said exactly the same thing twice with the excision of 13 words in the middle, it looks more like a bad edit. Much more plausible is that the Washington Post got a different version than Wired, or they made an edit themselves that is not defensible on any level as an appropriate journalistic choice.
But, those are the conclusions people are forced to draw when publications like Wired and the Washington Post appoint themselves guardians of what the public can and cannot know about the chat logs, and let Adrian Lamo prance around in the press making claims about what they contain. As Glenn Greenwald notes this morning, maybe these self-appointed guardians want to step up and either release the logs or do a better job of letting other journalists know whether they’re printing the truth or just letting Adrian Lamo spew bullshit on the front page of the New York Times.
Marcy Wheeler analyzes the chat logs here.