Mar 142011
 

US army soldier Bradley Manning is currently being held in defence department custody, at a military base in Virginia. He was arrested in July, after the FBI received a tip-off from convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo.

In this Al Jazeera exclusive interview, Monica Villamizar spoke to Lamo about Manning’s arrest.


I will talk to you on camera under one condition: I won’t give you an address of where I live, and all driving directions must be over the phone, nothing can be written in a computer.” These were Adrian Lamo’s words in response to my request for an interview. The 29-year-old Colombian-American ex-hacker gave alleged Wikileaks source Private Bradley Manning over to authorities. Ever since then he has become one of the most hated figures in cyberspace, receiving all types of threats, with “different degrees of credibility” according to him.

I meet him in his small studio apartment. The place was a total mess, and he apologised – there were boxes and books on the floor, clothes, food and bottles of alcohol, a small scale (to weigh his pet leopard-gecko) and a poisonous type of cactus from Africa.

He had a baseball cap with the word “snitch” written across it, and told me that “some people were advertising that I was a federal informant so I felt it was my civic duty to have it broadly displayed, like: warning snitch approaching.” There was a moment of silence and then he said, “It’s a joke.” Throughout the interview there were several of these awkward moments. He denies ever working for the government as an informant.






Lamo says he has Asperger, a mental condition known as the “geek syndrome.” Every time he is asked a question, he has to think about the answer first and then he responds in a monotone voice, always politely, with a slightly superior tone (he asked me why and how I had been assigned to interview him).

I asked if he regretted or felt any guilt for having turned in Bradley Manning to the authorities, especially after additional charges were added to his indictment, which basically mean that he could spend life in a military prison or even face the death penalty. He said he regrets that Manning is worrying about the potential punishment, but he doesn’t think he will get the death penalty: “Historically we don’t execute our spies in America.” I insisted that for the military, the charge of “aiding the enemy” is very serious, and that one of the potential verdicts of the court martial is the death sentence. He replied that as a soldier, Manning knew the consequences:

I think he did a brave yet stupid thing and he dishonored the oath he took to his country.”

When I commented about the reports of inhumane and degrading treatment that Manning has been subjected to according to his lawyer, he said that he did not believe them to be true.

He explains that when Private Manning allegedly confessed himself the source of the WikiLeaks, providing them the cable gate documents and a video of US soldiers killing 12 civilians in Iraq, he made himself a witness and he had to hand him to the authorities, not only for being a witness, but because there was information there that put people at risk.
I asked for precise examples of information that he considered of national security but he said he could not talk about it. The Pentagon recently said that no one has been directly harmed by the WikiLeaks documents.

The accounts of how both came into contact have been the source of much skepticism. Lamo says Manning reached out to him, due to common experiences – at 22 Adrian Lamo was arrested for computer intrusion after it became known that he had hacked The New York Times website.
Ironically Manning was also 22 when he was captured and sent to the Quantico military base. What most people fail to realise is that, for better or worse, the only person who knows Bradley Manning’s inner struggles and motivations is Lamo. As he chatted for days via encrypted messages, both men shared and confided in each other. Lamo says that he no longer has the transcripts of the conversations, a web magazine (Wired) selected what to publish and what to edit.

“Wired has the entirety of the logs; the bulk contains material that is a conversation between two people with a lot in common, one a young man in Iraq who is very troubled by the whole situation there, who has personal issues and needed to talk to someone, who needed a friend.”

Watch the full Q&A here:



The accounts of how both came into contact have been the source of much skepticism. Lamo says Manning reached out to him, due to common experiences – at 22 Adrian Lamo was arrested for computer intrusion after it became known that he had hacked The New York Times website.
Ironically Manning was also 22 when he was captured and sent to the Quantico military base. What most people fail to realise is that, for better or worse, the only person who knows Bradley Manning’s inner struggles and motivations is Lamo. As he chatted for days via encrypted messages, both men shared and confided in each other. Lamo says that he no longer has the transcripts of the conversations, a web magazine (Wired) selected what to publish and what to edit.

“Wired has the entirety of the logs; the bulk contains material that is a conversation between two people with a lot in common, one a young man in Iraq who is very troubled by the whole situation there, who has personal issues and needed to talk to someone, who needed a friend.”
Lamo’s conclusion is that whistle blowing should be done in a responsible manner, through legal paperwork. This seems very contradictory for someone who once hacked websites only to get publicity. He admits Private Manning had good intentions – allegedly, the soldier told him that he saw crimes being committed by his own country and wanted to shed light on them. He says that Manning was someone who wanted to make the world a better place but didn’t know how, and that if he could go back in time he would hand him to authorities again.

* Adrian Lamo
* Bradley Manning

RECENT COMMENTS

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[Moderator] 15 hours ago
What some young people don’t realize,
“In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.” Adrian Lamo you are a traitor to the world which seeks truth.
Flag
Clay Adams and 94 more liked this
*

av [Moderator] 11 hours ago
You swear an oath to protect your country from threats both foreign and DOMESTIC. The US government has shown itself to act in a criminal manner and to enagage in torture etc then they get all hurt when someone RIGHTLY points their crimes out. Well done Bradley you served the best interests of your country..Lamo go crawl back under your rock.
Flag
Clay Adams and 52 more liked this Like Reply
*

Net ZUmbi [Moderator] 16 hours ago
Stupid guy this brainless ex-hacker LAMO.

AT least Bradley has did a great service to the free world (not the free world manipulated by the yankees) with his revelations to WIKILEAKS. In exchange to this bravery, he lost his freedom and maybe his life in coming years but not for nothing. He will be always remembered like a hero, not like this piece of stool called Lamo, remembered as a rascal and stupid hacker at his young years, insteady of doing some good to society, he just have done bullshit.
Flag
Clay Adams and 60 more liked this Like Reply
*

Jassi Singh [Moderator] 16 hours ago
Geez what a piece of shit. Ugh! The more I watch this guy the more upsetting it is. Truly what a piece of shit…
Flag
Clay Adams and 48 more liked this Like Reply
*

RLRicard [Moderator] 15 hours ago
By Lamo’s action, I believe that he has become an accomplice to the “collateral murders”, and an ally of those whose deceit against the American people is clearly exposed by the WikiLeaks documents. Obviously a very hateful and disturbed fellow, just as he claims that Manning, whom many regard as a hero, is responsible for his own imprisonment, Lamo has also brought upon himself the danger he is in. I wonder if Lamo will have to remain in hiding for the rest of his life. He doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of person who can accomplish that. If ever he can live normally again, perhaps the only job he will be able to get is Snitch. There is only one employer who has that position available. The ‘joke’ will be on him.

With regard to government secrets themselves, I uphold the principle that, with only precise and very well-supervised exceptions, there is no place for secrets in a democracy. A democracy should not allow any designation of personnel the arrogant authority to assign secrecy to any information. No citizen in a democracy is by definition in any such manner superior to another. To the extent that the employees of a democracy keep secrets from it’s other citizens, it is no democracy.
Flag
dedavid and 43 more liked this Like Reply
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antivigilante [Moderator] 11 hours ago
I think the oath includes the defense of the Constitution.

This isn’t a monarchy. This is a republic. Soldiers defend the founding principles not the state.
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Nigel Parry and 19 more liked this Like Reply
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Jericho [Moderator] 12 hours ago
Why is it a crime to make public the actions of U.S soldiers killing innocent civilians? Manning is being tried as a traitor for this? Give me a Fkn’ break, this is a joke, this Snitch ratted him out and now he’ll be exiled for life. Good going retard!
Flag
19 people liked this. Like Reply
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EmpressU [Moderator] 13 hours ago
Why, oh why, does he have to be an aspie. As if they don’t face enough bigotry already – now they have to be associated with this flaming asshole!
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Nigel Parry and 21 more liked this Like Reply
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Mikael [Moderator] 17 hours ago
I don’t know, but all hes answers sound very rehearsed. Like someone has told him what to say before hand.
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Barbara Burns and 27 more liked this Like Reply
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Patrick012 [Moderator] 10 hours ago
Why give this arse hole any air time at all he is as low as Gadaffi in my eyes.He is as bad as anyone else and has more than likely done the same type of thing after all he is a self confessed hacker .So hacker of what other peoples credit card details and stuff they keep in there computer that is a crime so how can we or anyone take anything he says as true hes a theif and should do jail time for his own actions .If I ever knew of where he or his scumbag mates lived I too would be after him .So what is this turds background hmm I flush crap like him every morning scum as far as Im concerned .
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Lamo’s conclusion is that whistle blowing should be done in a responsible manner, through legal paperwork. This seems very contradictory for someone who once hacked websites only to get publicity. He admits Private Manning had good intentions – allegedly, the soldier told him that he saw crimes being committed by his own country and wanted to shed light on them. He says that Manning was someone who wanted to make the world a better place but didn’t know how, and that if he could go back in time he would hand him to authorities again.

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*

dedavid [Moderator] 15 hours ago
What some young people don’t realize,
“In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.” Adrian Lamo you are a traitor to the world which seeks truth.
Flag
Clay Adams and 94 more liked this Like Reply Reply
*

av [Moderator] 11 hours ago
You swear an oath to protect your country from threats both foreign and DOMESTIC. The US government has shown itself to act in a criminal manner and to enagage in torture etc then they get all hurt when someone RIGHTLY points their crimes out. Well done Bradley you served the best interests of your country..Lamo go crawl back under your rock.
Flag
Clay Adams and 52 more liked this Like Reply Reply
*

Net ZUmbi [Moderator] 16 hours ago
Stupid guy this brainless ex-hacker LAMO.

AT least Bradley has did a great service to the free world (not the free world manipulated by the yankees) with his revelations to WIKILEAKS. In exchange to this bravery, he lost his freedom and maybe his life in coming years but not for nothing. He will be always remembered like a hero, not like this piece of stool called Lamo, remembered as a rascal and stupid hacker at his young years, insteady of doing some good to society, he just have done bullshit.
Flag
Clay Adams and 60 more liked this Like Reply Reply
*

Jassi Singh [Moderator] 16 hours ago
Geez what a piece of shit. Ugh! The more I watch this guy the more upsetting it is. Truly what a piece of shit…
Flag
Clay Adams and 48 more liked this Like Reply Reply
*

RLRicard [Moderator] 15 hours ago
By Lamo’s action, I believe that he has become an accomplice to the “collateral murders”, and an ally of those whose deceit against the American people is clearly exposed by the WikiLeaks documents. Obviously a very hateful and disturbed fellow, just as he claims that Manning, whom many regard as a hero, is responsible for his own imprisonment, Lamo has also brought upon himself the danger he is in. I wonder if Lamo will have to remain in hiding for the rest of his life. He doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of person who can accomplish that. If ever he can live normally again, perhaps the only job he will be able to get is Snitch. There is only one employer who has that position available. The ‘joke’ will be on him.

With regard to government secrets themselves, I uphold the principle that, with only precise and very well-supervised exceptions, there is no place for secrets in a democracy. A democracy should not allow any designation of personnel the arrogant authority to assign secrecy to any information. No citizen in a democracy is by definition in any such manner superior to another. To the extent that the employees of a democracy keep secrets from it’s other citizens, it is no democracy.

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