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Adrian Lamo has died (zdnet.com)
228 points by ad_hominem on Mar 16, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

Sorry, this story isn't very interesting, but it really stuck with me nonetheless, and I wanted to share.

Adrian had a passing romance with a friend of mine, and thus ended up traveling through the city I grew up in. This was long before Chelsea Manning, etc.

I was a super shy, rather awkward teenage girl. I suppose the teenage part has changed.. but I digress. I loved the idea of mischief, but at the same time, I was a habitual rule-follower. I get nervous walking through the retail store detectors placed at entrances.. even though I've never stolen anything in my life. I remember listening to social engineering phone pranks -- the sort where people would talk their way into being put on the store-wide intercom at Walmart. At the time, I think I really wanted to be so confident that I could do such a thing, versus the reality, which was mild anxiety over something so simple as placing a legit pizza order over the phone.

I knew who Adrian was in a peripheral sense. I was a community leader and eventual employee on AOL in years prior, and I had an interest in how to break things as an inverse of being curious how they're built.

I had a car, while my friend did not, and Adrian had traveled via transit, so I spent the day with them hopping around town. At one point, we were downtown grabbing food in one of the larger complexes -- Adrian breaks off for a second and asks a retail store employee a bunch of questions about working there, saying he was just hired at the cafe. We then ended up going into what was clearly an employee-only area -- GUYS WE AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE WHAT IF WE GET IN TROUBLE OH GOD -- we duck into a fire escape, hike up to the upper level where he picks the lock to the door with roof access, and there we are, highest point in the city. After a few minutes of me suggesting that MAYBE we go back down since this was cool BUT REALLY WE SHOULD GO, Adrian told me I'd miss the sunset if I kept worrying.

It was dumb. I'm sure I could've been arrested. But watching the sunset with the two of them from the top of that building remains one of my favorite memories. It was the first time I'd taken a step out of my shell, I suppose. Adrian was a troubled guy, and I don't forgive what he did to Manning, but I appreciated him for that moment in time.

This is a good description of the kind of hacker Adrian was. He wasn't a write finely crafted shell code to exploit a buffer overflow in an application or deep knowledge of the esoterica of how CPUs function Spectre Meltdown kind of hacker. He'd just try the knob on a door he wasn't supposed to go through and surprise it was open.

well, to be fair, he didn't plenty of that too.

Good hackers can expose the inconvenient difference between what is illegal from what is wrong without doing harm to anyone or anything. So thanks for sharing such a beautiful story, it perfectly explains the hacker mindset where mainstream media articles would fail miserably.

In honor of hackerdom I'll be a bit of a pest and say that stoners already have that lesson covered. :)

I think hackers reveal the unexamined difference between how people use something and what it does. E.g., people used copyright to give exclusivity to a particular publisher. But copyright itself doesn't "do" exclusivity. It instead gives the author the power to license the work as they see fit. So even if the license is a legal restatement of the golden rule, it is still backed by the full force of U.S. copyright law.

Nice story, the kind that makes HN worth it

I sadly can't believe anything I read on the internet and I view this with suspicion for some reason...

But that would make the story even more awesome, somehow. It's about a kid who used social engineering to conjure an alternate reality out of thin air, simultaneously leading his friends through a metaphorical forbidden door and a literal one.

This is probably how myths, if not entire religions, get started. A grain of truth wrapped in a larger web of deceit, spun by an insignificant spider who doesn't even know, herself, how far it will ultimately reach.

(That aside, the site guidelines encourage its users to presume good faith, so I'm inclined to do so unless there's some actual evidence that whichwalrus's story isn't on the level.)

Was it the awkward wording as I attempted to make it as location-detail-free as possible? ;)

(tbf, I wouldn't believe a random story on the internet from an account created that day either.. ah well.)

Why would someone spend time to make up a story like this and post it anonymously? The comment is interesting and well-written, and obviously took some effort to write. I find the specific descriptions of the author and the events to be quite convincing.

This is a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing.

At a user's suggestion, we changed the URL from https://www.facebook.com/groups/majordomo/permalink/10156204... to avoid the painful contrast between an internet forum controversy and a father's grief over the death of his son.

I've turned off flags on this story because if we don't, the story will be reposted until we do. In return, here's a request: if you comment here, try to bring your heart with you a bit more than you usually would.

If we don't do that, a sort of tragedy of the commons kicks in where we each add a piece that's defensible in itself, but the picture of us that the pieces add up to is ugly.

I know that there has been controversy dealing with Adrian Lamo for a long, long time, however; my sister was married to him for a short time and I know he had many mental health issues and demons that he's been dealing with his entire life. I know she loved him very much at one point and time and she is sad today because she knows how hard his life was dealing with his issues. I feel terrible for his parents, family, and friends. This is not the time to talk badly about him.

Thanks for this insight, and blessings to your sister.

Well said. Many don't have any class or manners. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

This is somewhat a shock to me, and I’m curious to know what happened.

Adrian and I became friends when we were both about 12. We met at 2600 meetings in the embarcadero in SF. We soon were buddies, going “trashing” downtown finding all kinds of crazy things corporate SF left out for trash: working DAT backup drives, 17” view sonics (prized at the time), blueprints for a bank (!), entire trash bags full of credit card receipts with nothing redacted, etc.

He was always a mysterious one, and beat to his own drum. I admired his spirit, and our paths crossed many times including when we both volunteered at the same queer youth center in SF.

Years later he stayed with me in grad school in Cambridge looking not the healthiest. I tried to provide food and shelter, not able to figure out why a guy so talented refused to do anything conventional that would make him good money. But he didn’t care about such things.

He had his own sense of right and wrong, and was principaled within his own philosophy — but I never fully understood what philosophy that was. When I recently was chatting with him, I asked why did was doing something currently to which he said “why do I ever do anything?”

I’ll deeply miss Adrian.. he was a kind and unique spirit. Some may disagree with me on that only because they only know him through Manning, but that was a small sliver of his life (and one I happen to agree with him on, with additional perspectives I can’t share publicly).

Thanks for sharing your connection with Adrian. It was nice hearing some positive memories about him. I know he did what he did with Manning with much consternation but out of a moral necessity. It really did weigh on him.

I met Adrian in about 98 in SF and shared many of the same kinds of adventures with him. He shared a lot of his physical and electronic intrusions with me and he never did any harm or anything malicious. It was all simple exploration in the best hacker ethos. He'd usually inform the 'victim' taking nothing for his services except a Coke while he told them his story.

I'm also curious what happened, morbidly. I haven't heard from him at all in a few years. An unfortunate addition to the list of young, talented but troubled hackers I've known who've left us too soon. :(

I too use to go to the 2600 meets at the Embarcadero in SF and go trashing.

For those who do not recognize his name as I did not:

> Lamo first gained media attention for breaking into several high-profile computer networks, including those of The New York Times, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, culminating in his 2003 arrest.[7]

> In 2010, Lamo indirectly reported U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command,[8] claiming that Manning had leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks.


I first heard of him from the initial version of his Wikipedia entry, and I wondered if he had written it himself (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Adrian_Lamo&oldid...)

Wikipedia was different in those days. A few hours after it was posted, Larry Sanger himself added a comment to the end saying "Um, can we clean up the above puff job, please?"

Reminder: Lamo is a public figure but also a real person with real relationships with people who will read this thread. You are all commenting on a Facebook thread written by Lamo's dad about the death of his son.

Thoroughly agreed. Would love to see the mods taking a much more active role in this thread

Users have flagged the submission and some of the less humane comments in the thread. That's probably the right outcome, given that there's no way to stop the discussion from being about the events of 8 years ago, but probably no good discussion about them to be had in this context.

Perhaps the link could be changed to a news article rather than the Facebook page? For example:


That's a good idea. Thanks for pointing it out.

Url changed from https://www.facebook.com/groups/majordomo/permalink/10156204....

Edit: We'll try turning off the flags and seeing if the discussion can do better.

I had some of my comments pruned not so long ago (not by you AFAIK) for daring offend the religion of Lisp, it seems a no brainer that half the comments in this thread should be flushed down the toilet with far greater vigour, just as my Lisp comments were. One would hope editorial policy places higher priority on human life than it does Lisp

Meanwhile thanks for popping up. I've applied my flags :)

> You are all commenting on a Facebook thread written by Lamo's dad about the death of his son.

I think I understand why you wrote that, but I don't agree. Posts here should be thoughtful and respectful, certainly. But it is not Facebook. I am not an expert about this person who has died, but it appears his story has a public interest dimension. HN is an appropriate place for such discussion. Furthermore, I think you need to remember that this is a global community, containing many people far away from events in the USA. In the event of any death, the vast majority of HN readers are not members of the in-crowd who had some personal connection to that person. This site has a large global readership; it isn't and cannot be a "community" in the local sense that you and dang seem to be portraying it as. (Also, friendly reminder, dang is the moderator but AFAIK you aren't).

I think the context for dang's comment is that the HN link originally went to a Facebook thread. I hope nobody from HN showed up on that thread to trash Lamo in comments that were effectively directed right to his grieving father, but...

And? It's not about anything you wrote, just have a shred of decency on a comment to a father who lost his son. That's above anything you know obviously.

Definitely check out the documentary Hackers Wanted [1], which follows Adrian. I found it interesting how he was able to break into some of the "high-profile computer networks".

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2292707/

Adrian and I met back in '97. He always struck me as ahead of his time, and was someone who opened my eyes to what "information security" actually was: The man's natural ability to find his way into places he shouldn't be - physical or electronic, was simply uncanny and I have never before spoken with or known of anyone like him.

Rest In Peace: you lived your life the way you believed it mattered ~ and you had to wade through difficulties with an illnesses. I admire your ability and your talent . Rest easy .

The directors cut of his documentary voiced by Kevin Spacey, and featuring Woz and Kevin Rose is available on public Bittorrent sites:



There's merit to discussing whether his actions were beneficial or not. But for the love of god, if you've got a problem with him as a person, pocket it unless you know discussion of the specific problem you had with him will with certainty serve the public good. You've got every right to say what you want, but think it through.

I didn't know him, but I've known plenty of others with questionable reputations who've died as a result of mental duress. Before you comment, I'll ask as a bystander for you to think about whether everyone benefits from knowing what you wish to share. Otherwise, you'll just out yourself as an asshole.

Rest in peace, Adrian. Regardless of what you did, beneficial or otherwise, no one deserves the mind-shackles you had to live with.

Sad. He did the right thing reporting Manning and I'd do the same thing if I was him.

You would tell nazi patrol which cellar jews are hiding in? You are a good patriotic boy!

here's a documentary featuring Adrian prominently. This is the best you'll see Adrian, because some time after this film he went on (or off?) his meds, betrayed Chelsea Manning and various other things shitty humans do.


Hackers Wanted.

Taking medicine and not taking medicine are both things shitty humans do, as is refusing to join a criminal conspiracy?

I have read almost all his answers on quora. And from all that, one thing is there which i know for sure, that he was a good man. Rip.

I hope that he found peace, somehow.

Inexplicably this post just disappeared off the very top of HN... Edit: appearing now as flagged.

Users explicably flagged it.

Wasn't showing up as flagged when it disappeared.

It is now, though.

Flags affect story ranking before the [flagged] tag appears. The tag appears when the effect of the flags exceeds a certain threshold.

Since "flagged" isn't a binary state that's the only easy way to do it, but it does mean that a story's rank is sometimes affected by user flags without that being visually displayed yet. Usually it shows up after a while.

Good to know.


I don't think that Adrian did it out of a sense of rightness. He did it because he had no choice. Adrian was basically suspicious that he was being monitored by the FBI (he had just come out of a judgement where he was prohibited from using computers, so this is not an unreasonable thing to believe), so it was either say nothing and get two people in trouble or say something and keep it to just one.

Simply put, as much as I respect manning's actions, manning should not have confided in lamo. Rookie move.

source: I... know people that know Adrian

I 100% disagree with you. Plus Manning was wreckless (my own perspective, which is hardly unique).

Source: I’ve known Adrian personally for decades.

Fair enough. I have only had a few conversations with Adrian myself, and I never broached the subject.

Perhaps he might have considered that before actively seeking leaked information?

> Kids, don't be a snitch.

No good group of people has that rule. I've seen/heard about that rule so far from the mafia, drug dealers, and bad cops.

Would you say that Daniel Ellsberg shouldn't have "snitched" to the public on the assessment that the Vietnam War was unwinnable? You seem to conflate "good" with "authority" here.

I think you read my point in reverse? I agree with you, that the snitching is good. There's probably something to debate on what's snitching and what's being a traitor, but that's not the same debate IMO.

Snitching is a derogatory term used in closed communities to prevent harmful (to the closed community) disclosure of information.

In on itself disclosing information is not a good or bad act. Depending on the outcome and goals of the person it can be heroic or treacherous act.

Manning was a hero. Lamo is a snitch and a traitor.

It kind of sounds like you read the parents statement backwards?

Seriously, I'm really surprised at some of the comments here. Some hackers have always been suits though, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Definitely shouldn't be surprised, and it's not just the suits.

It seems that the election of Trump, in particular, has turned half of the infosec community into rabid fans of the CIA/FBI/NSA. It's really quite sickening.

One of my personal favorite public conversions has been the grugq. In 3-4 years he's gone from selling bugs (worldwide), and supporting hackers (worldwide), to a rabid Russiaphobe who uncritically accepts whatever unsubstantiated claims GCHQ and NSA make, and refuses to sell bugs to anyone but FVEY.

Summer camp probably won't be very much fun this year.

Also of interest, next year much of the USA House of Reps will be CIA agents. Either you're a fan of the intelligence apparatus, or it's coming for your House seat:


This seems good for democracy!

Selling vulnerabilities is a shitty thing to do. Selling to American spies instead of Russian mobsters doesn't make it any worse.

I've also heard it from victims of tyrannical and genocidal governments.

Anyone who's ever smoked weed.

>Kids, don't be a snitch.

Simplistic. Kids, please be a snitch sometimes, like Manning.

But when you're being a snitch, don't snitch out the people that were snitches for you. Manning released the identities of Afghan nationals who helped the counterinsurgency, leading to their deaths at the hands of the Taliban.

[citation needed]

I don't think it is possible to specifically name anyone who actually died because of the leaks.

It's similar to lung cancer deaths caused by smoking cigarettes. No one has ever been able to specifically name someone who died from lung cancer caused by smoking. In every single case, it is possible that the named person is one of the many people each year who die from lung cancers caused by things such radon exposure, asbestos, an unlucky mutation, or air pollution.

We do know that when the Taliban would find out that someone was aiding those who opposed the Taliban, they would go after that person (and often their family, too). So we know that the leaks would have made some people targets who would not have otherwise been targets at the time.

The best we can do is, as with lung cancer, is think about it statistically. Compare the people exposed in the leaks to similarly situated people who were not mentioned, and see if the former had a statistically significant higher death rate from Taliban attacks for themselves or their families.

I don't know if the data is available to carry out that analysis.

That's awfully convenient. I supposed we should just trust anyone whenever they claim that their abuses being uncovered hurts American interests. Particularly when their claims are completely unverifiable. I wonder if people will eventually stop falling for such a completely transparent attempt to muddy the waters.

Are you suggesting that it is OK to put numerous third parties in danger (the people whose names being exposed would make them Taliban targets were generally Afghan civilians, not Americans) if the circumstances are such that no one will ever be able to prove that any specific one of them actually comes to harm from that danger? Even when releasing those names does nothing whatsoever to help expose any abuses?

No. I'm not saying that at all.

You seem to have forgotten that you wrote this.

> The best we can do is, as with lung cancer, is think about it statistically. Compare the people exposed in the leaks to similarly situated people who were not mentioned, and see if the former had a statistically significant higher death rate from Taliban attacks for themselves or their families.

> I don't know if the data is available to carry out that analysis.

Well, the data not being available doesn't necessarily mean that people weren't killed, either.

I think you're both making valid points and the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, with certain kinds of leaks, there are potential risks to people that should be taken into account, by carefully selecting, and redacting when appropriate, the material to be leaked (which Manning didn't begin to do, nor allow anyone else to do). And on the other hand, with any leak of information about the military, one can count on people who object to the leak raising concerns about such risks, making it difficult to tell exactly how valid these concerns are in any particular case. That's not necessarily a good argument against leaking at all, in my opinion, though many consider it so.

> Well, the data not being available doesn't necessarily mean that people weren't killed, either.

I generally reject arguments of this form, because:

1. In the absence of real data, they are essentially just fear mongering.

2. It violates the general principle of innocent until proven guilty, because we are assuming Chelsea Manning is guilty of getting people killed without evidence that this is the case.

3. Accepting arguments of this form puts a strong incentive on those in charge to classify everything so that they can always rely on uncertainty to fuel fear. In some sense this incentive is the root cause of everything we are discussing.

> That's not necessarily a good argument against leaking at all, in my opinion, though many consider it so.

That's definitely not a good arguments against leaking at all. The much more interesting question in my mind is: in a situation where people might have been hurt or killed because of a leak is it right to be critical of the leaker in stead of focusing on the contents of the leak. Personally I (somewhat predictably) would say no. For the reasons above, and also because, Chelsea Manning exposed plenty of instances where people definitely were hurt and killed (in a situation where the leak contained lower stakes information, my opinion might be different).

I think my point may have been unclear.

People commonly argue that Manning's leaks were justified because they exposed some cover ups, and the leaks did not harm anyone who was not doing anything illegal. They base the second half of that on nobody being able to name any specific person who was harmed.

My point is that is an impossible standard. They want absolute proof of harm before they will consider the possibility that maybe Manning should have redacted names, or left out documents that were completely irrelevant to whatever crimes and cover ups she hoped to expose.

By that standard if someone is already in a situation where they are in danger, you could leak anything about them and disclaim any responsibility if they subsequently get killed, because it might have been due do that danger they were already in.

I don't disagree with you very much. I think Manning's heart was in the right place, and some of the material she leaked was very important. I just wish she had released the material through journalists, as Snowden did later, rather than dumping it on WikiLeaks.

Your analogy is falsifiable. Perhaps you should look up Sharp v Stephen Guinery t/as Port Kembla Hotel and Port Kembla RSL Club, which found:

In that case, in 2001, a jury in the Supreme Court of New South Wales decided in favour of a plaintiff who had brought a claim against her employer based on common law negligence and breach of an employer's statutory duty. The plaintiff had worked as a bartender at the Port Kembla RSL between 1984 and 1995 and at the Port Kembla Hotel from 1973 to 1984. In 1995, the plaintiff discovered a lump on the side of her neck, and was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, throat and neck. The plaintiff claimed that her cancer had been caused by exposure to secondhand smoke during the course of her employment at the Port Kembla RSL and the Port Kembla Hotel. The Port Kembla Hotel settled the plaintiff's claim against it out of court, for $160 000. The claim against the Port Kembla RSL proceeded to trial before a jury in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

The jury in this case found that the employer's negligence had either caused or materially contributed to the plaintiff's cancer. This finding was based on a series of conclusions reached by the jury. On the balance of probabilities, the jury found that (i) on the information available to the Port Kembla RSL at relevant times, it had been reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff would suffer physical injury; (ii) there had been a reasonably practicable means of eliminating the risk; (iii) in failing to ban smoking totally or partially or to constantly operate exhaust fans, the employer had by its conduct caused or materially contributed to the plaintiff's injury; and (iv) the employer had not acted reasonably.

The jury awarded the plaintiff a total of $466 048 in damages, less the amount she had already received from the earlier settlement with the Port Kembla Hotel. The damages were awarded as damages for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and past and future medical expenses, domestic assistance and loss of earnings.


I was going to say that's just some dumb jury, but heck, even the text you're quoting says, "On the balance of probabilities."

Nothing seems to have been revealed so far.

- https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/secret-government-repo...

> Regarding the hundreds of thousands of Iraq-related military documents and State Department cables provided by the Army private Chelsea Manning, the report assessed “with high confidence that disclosure of the Iraq data set will have no direct personal impact on current and former U.S. leadership in Iraq.”

- http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/feb/...

> In the several years since WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of government documents leaked by Manning, the government has not publicly identified a single example of the Taliban killing someone because that person was named in the leaks. If someone had died as a result, it seems logical that the incident would have become public knowledge, either through Manning's trial or in media reports.

It's not really fair to claim that Lamo was wrong to turn Manning in based on retrospection like this.

It would have been entirely reasonable at the time to assume that some of the 260k+ cables might have endangered US soldiers, allies, and others. The fact that we can't prove it did now does not change the reasonableness of that conclusion nearly a decade ago, and given the stakes at play it seems unfair to vilify someone for doing what he did.

I don't disagree with you, just pointing out that there don't appear to be known incidents, as a previous commenter seemed to assert as fact.

> don't snitch out the people that were snitches for you

If by 'for you' you mean Halliburton and Monsanto.

Simplistic again. Most of Manning's snitching didn't help anyone but the Taliban.

Many replies are confused:

SNITCHING means going to the authorities to out one of your comrades, especially in return for some 'deal' you're offered. That makes you scum.

WHISTLEBLOWING means going to the public to out criminals for their secret crimes and lies, especially public servants and those in power. That makes you a hero.

Please avoid deadnaming[1] people. There's no need, in this context, to disambiguate who Chelsea Manning is.

[1] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/deadname

Snitching has a very specific definition here, i think: it's telling on someone to power. You can't snitch on the US government's secret abuses of power because the people deserve to know.

well the US is predicated on the principle that the power of the government is derived from the people, so in principle (and ultimately de facto) the people of the US have more power than the government, and telling on the abuses of power is a means to get the problem rectified (or else why would Manning have done it?)

There are a lot of reasons to release hundreds of thousands of documents at random that have nothing to do with rectifying problems. Hurting an organization that doesn't support you, for example.

Adrian was hardly the only one who betrayed Manning. Putting this all on him is a bit myopic and unfair:

All The People Who Betrayed Chelsea Manning - Kevin Poulsen https://www.thedailybeast.com/all-the-people-who-betrayed-ch...

> Kids, don't be a snitch.

I hope you don't give your kids that advice when they see someone at school with a gun in their backpack.

> Kids, don't be a snitch.

Statements like this are why women regularly get sexually assaulted at frat parties in front of dozens of witnesses, none of whom will even consider going to the authorities about it.

Snitching should be normalized.

Snitching is a derogatory term used in closed communities to prevent harmful (to the closed community) disclosure of information. In on itself disclosing information is not a good or bad act. Depending on the outcome and goals of the person it can be heroic or treacherous act.

Manning was a hero. Lamo is a snitch and a traitor.

>>Kids, don't be a snitch.

Is that aimed at Chelsea, Adrian, or both?

There’s much more to Lamos story than just Manning. He repeatedly went out of his way to stab his “friends” in the back.


> On the other hand, he was a traitor, and he betrayed the trust of a true hero

I used to agree with this but honestly, the second Manning contacted him, he was complicit with the crime being committed and would have been sent to the same horrible hole Manning was sent to. It was irresponsible of Manning to put Lamo in this situation, as an ex-convict he would have gotten life in prison, probably solitary confinement if not worse. I don't think I can blame Lamo for doing what he did. It was a horrible situation for both of them. When you're about to commit a crime as severe as treason or murder, you don't call a friend or let alone a stranger and tell him "I'm about to commit the most severely punished crime in the country, could you advise me please?" and expect that person to be complicit.

> I used to agree with this but honestly, the second Manning contacted him, he was complicit with the crime being committed

Are you sure this is true? You don't have a duty to report anything just because you become knowledgeable of it. Mere knowledge doesn't make you complicit.

I don't know specifically in Manning's case, but yes, in general in the US, knowledge that a crime is about to be, is being, or has been committed can make you an accomplice and expose you to criminal liability.

In not all cases will knowledge alone necessarily be enough to convict you, but that doesn't mean a prosecutor might not try. An ex-con should probably not take the chance that a prosecutor will ignore prior knowledge of a criminal act.

Edit: I shouldn't say "knowledge alone." I should rather say that knowledge alone plus a zealous prosecutor. And then throw in prior conviction... Just a risky proposition. Knowledge alone with no other factors to tempt a prosecutor will probably not put you at any greater risk.

Lamo talked to Manning under the guise of being a journalist. Here's what Glenn Greenwald wrote in 2011, after WIRED published the full logs between Lamo and Manning (it must be pointed out that Greenwald was one of the loudest critics of WIRED and its editors, but I use this link since it quotes from the logs):


> MANNING: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning

> LAMO: 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.

Lamo didn't stumble upon evidence of a crime. He got it by claiming to be a journalist. And as a journalist, he would've had plenty of leeway in not revealing a source, even a source that admits to a crime.

Yes, this is it exactly. Keeping sources confidential is the norm for reporters in the US. Some have spent time in prison for refusing to reveal sources. Judith Miller, for example.

> I don't know specifically in Manning's case, but yes, in general in the US, knowledge that a crime is about to be, is being, or has been committed can make you an accomplice and expose you to criminal liability.

This is incorrect. Being an accomplice generally requires active counsel or assistance to a crime before it happens (the usual “accomplice before the fact”, or “aiding and abetting”) or active concealment (which goes by a number of terms, including “accomplice after the fact”.).

There are a few special cases where particular people have special duties to report specific crimes, but that is not the norm in general.

What's incorrect? Having knowledge of an actual crime can make you an accomplice.

I said generally. You said generally. I made edits before you quoted that to clarify that knowledge alone isn't likely going to make you a target of prosecution in the majority of cases. Maybe not even in 1 in a million cases.

I've had clients be targeted for prosecution on weak facts plenty of times.

If I were a lawyer for the ex-con, and he came to ask me whether to contact the FBI given the facts that seem to be stipulated, I certainly would not recommend not contacting the FBI.

Who does and does not have a duty to report is not really relevant in a whole lot of real world cases, unless you think that no ex-con has ever been railroaded on flimsy or fabricated charges.

I've had clients plead guilty when they probably could have fought it just because they can't risk doing long-term jail time, and I'm not even a dedicated criminal defense lawyer.

I've heard about, and read about, much worse. Surely, you have as well.

Edit: Just for example, say Lamo doesn't contact the FBI, and after Manning is prosecuted, they come after Lamo claiming that he advised Manning on how not to get caught, given Lamo's previous experience. Does Lamo beat the charges or go to prison? The system is not rigged in favor of ex-cons. Given the risk, I'd contact the FBI, too.

> You don't have a duty to report anything just because you become knowledgeable of it.

On its face, the federal misprision statute might appear to require exactly that, but it requires active concealment, not mere failure to report.

Does that also apply to Manning?

It more so applies to the tens of thousands of people who knew about these various crimes and did nothing.

Snowden is a better example of how to handle responsible disclosure than Manning, however.

Worth pointing out that Manning had apparently tried to leak to the WaPo and NYT but was ignored:


> Private Manning said he first called The Washington Post and spoke to an unidentified reporter for about five minutes. He decided that the reporter did not seem particularly interested because she said The Post would have to review the material before making any commitment.

> He said he then tried to reach out to The New York Times by calling a phone number for the newspaper’s public editor — an ombudsman who is not part of the newsroom — and leaving a voice mail message that was not returned.

You need to brush up on your criminal law, at least in the US and especially when it comes to federal crimes.

> You need to brush up on your criminal law, at least in the US and especially when it comes to federal crimes.

You should provide your argument rather than waving your hands non-specifically at federal criminal law.

"Traitor" is a pretty powerful word. A more realistic way to look at it is that someone—using a persistent method of communication—told him that they had committed a very serious crime¹, and he then had to choose between covering it up or going to the police. Covering it up or ignoring it could have meant he was an accessory.

¹ Whether it should be a serious crime or not is irrelevant here.

Under US law, most people in most situations are not obligated to report crimes they become aware of.

Accomplice liability only comes into play when a person intentionally, actively aids a person to commit, conceal or profit from a crime, or to escape prosecution. Inaction doesn't count.

But under federal statues they can and will prosecute you; whether or not you actually deserve it.

And to be honest I'd rather he snitch than contribute to a culture of cronyism that's all too prevalent in the world.

Like, discovering that a friend of yours committed a serious crime and then keeping it a secret is the very definition of corruption. If we, as a society, are going to move past corruption and cronyism, then we have to accept this kind of snitching, because it's the only way to defeat corruption.

For that matter, do you want to end a culture of people being sexually assaulted at frat parties in full view of dozens of people because none of the witnesses will go to the authorities? Then normalize snitching.

Yeah, best way to end corruption certainly is to help those in power keep their secrets by snitching on those who tell the world, that makes sense! After all, those in power have said it's a crime to challenge their power!

On a personal note, a year or two before that happened Adrian helped my family recover our AOL/AIM accounts after they were compromised. Someone got control of the master account for all my family's AOL accounts, which we created back in ~1995. Because we hadn't been paying customers for over a decade, AOL was unresponsive to support requests. One of my acquaintances knew Adrian though, and got him in touch with me and my mom. Adrian still knew a bunch of people at AOL, and got them to restore access to our accounts and flagged them for an extra layer of security. I remember thanking him on the phone and him replying, "I strive to provide better service than the people I hack."

It was a fun story to tell until the news came out, at which point I stopped.

FWIW the response for paying AOL customers (former) was little better.

That's the impression I got from him :/

While I'm not certain what I felt about the man himself (conflicted, much like yourself), he was still in his thirties. No matter what mistakes he made, that is not an age at which anyone should die.

Manning is no hero, let's not go overboard. At best, she made a well-intentioned but horribly reckless mistake.

She's a hero if someone says she is, and that's all there is to it. I think she was a brave, selfless person in doing what she did, and I'm glad that the US got its ass handed to it in this way. American military crimes are heinous, and the entire nation is doing nothing effective about it. There are millions of people suffering because the American public are too cowardly to confront their own military.

So by sticking her neck out and releasing the Collateral Murder videos, she is most definitely my hero.

(EDIT: s/Damage/Murder/ - this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0)

She also released hundreds of thousands of pages of other documents. I can sympathize with carefully targeted disclosures -- like the Collateral Damage videos -- but there's no way she reviewed all the documents she dumped. Wildly irresponsible.

I would blame the US for invading Iraq and Afghanistan before blaming Manning even a tiny bit for anything.

Manning can be responsible for her own actions.

It's Collateral Murder, not Collateral Damage.

If she's a hero "if someone says she is", the same logic canonizes Lamo.

Ned Kelly is considered by equal numbers as either a heroic Bush Ranger sticking it to the man in Australia, or a callous murderer who attempted mass murder when he ripped up the train tracks near Glenrowan.

You can be a hero to some and a villain to others.

I do agree with her that some of that stuff did need to see the light of day. But it was foolish to blindly turn everything over to Assange. It would have been better if she'd only released the few worst items.

Is that the correct usage of 'at best'? Isnt that just minimizing the range of discussion? Shouldnt the objective range be: At best, she's a hero. At worst, she's a villain.

That's the point elefanten was conveying: "at best, she's no hero and only someone that made a reckless mistake".

This comment is gross on several levels. Don't imply that people deserve suicide.

> On the other hand, he was a traitor, and he betrayed the trust of a true hero

I don't know. I have a hard time with calling Chelsea Manning a true hero. While some of the information that she leaked was useful in exposing war crimes, there was a lot more that wasn't particularly relevant exposing military abuses, but was used by enemies to track down and kill those who were collaborating with the US.

> in order to put more unaccountable government power in the hands of people like Donald Trump

I'm not sure how what Adrian Lamo did would have given more power to Donald Trump. In fact, it's Wikileaks that ultimately wound up being critical in the election of Donald Trump; by dumping a lot of not particularly noteworthy private campaign emails, but which could be picked through and made to extend some controversies and conspiracy theories around Hillary Clinton, it was one of the key factors in getting Donald Trump elected.

While there has been some good, newsworthy information released on Wikileaks, it seems to have been corrupted by Russian influence, has a lot of alt-right tendencies including antisemitism (https://theintercept.com/2018/02/14/julian-assange-wikileaks... ); I think that overall, it has become a net negative on the world.

From what I can tell, Chelsea Manning meant well, did some good, but also did a lot of damage, including substantially raising Wikiseaks' profile. I think that whether to report the conversation with Manning to the authorities was likely a difficult one, but the concern about leaking significant amounts of non-newsworthy but potentially quite dangerous information was well founded.

> Did he commit suicide 

I don't think that's been revealed; but his Wikipedia article reports on several past struggles with substance abuse. Based on that, and general statistics on causes of death at that age, suicide, overdose, or motor vehicle accident seem like the most likely causes (https://www.cdc.gov/injury/images/lc-charts/leading_causes_o... for the leading causes of death, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/images/lc-charts/leading_causes_o... for the breakdown of the injury deaths by cause).

He's a human being. A complex and maybe a little bit messed up human being who has made mistakes. And regardless of those mistakes, we should mourn the loss of a pretty interesting person.

I know what you mean but i am not sure how much he knew about the things manning leaked. Considering what he did before i want to believe that he had a good reason why he did it. Maybe he really thought people were in danger

People really were put in danger. The Taliban targeted Afgan nationals revealed in the documents to be associating with the US. From a Taliban spokesperson: "We will investigate through our own secret service whether the people mentioned are really spies working for the U.S. If they are U.S. spies, then we know how to punish them." [1]

I like freedom of information, but what Manning did was simply irresponsible. There was no filter on the documents released. Release all the reports of us torturing and murdering, sure. But don't go around telling the Taliban exactly which families risked their lives to help the counterinsurgency.

[1]: http://www.newsweek.com/taliban-says-it-will-target-names-ex...

Fucking hell, will you stop linking that 8-year-old article? The only information contained in it is one goat enthusiast no one ever heard of, quoted as saying "yes if we learn of a betrayal against goat enthusiasm we will be upset about it." That proves absolutely nothing. If any brave Afghan national USA collaborator had died as a result, we would have heard about him enough to be sick of it. Unlike, for instance, the thousands of Afghan nationals murdered directly by USA military, whom the war media never mentions.


This comment crosses into ideological flamewar and personal attacks, which are destructive on HN regardless of how correct your underlying views may be. Please don't do those things here.


I think its completely ridiculous to equate criticism of American military misadventures with the catch-all "ideological flamewar" doublethink.

Its precisely because arguments against American military crimes are couched as 'ideological attacks' that they continue, unimpeded, around the world.

It isn't a question of criticism but of grandiose rhetoric—e.g. equating people who disagree with you with child-haters, and whatnot.

One can argue that atrocities demand intense responses and I agree with that. But I also know that on internet forums this has long degraded into garden-variety flamebait, that the discussions it produces are tedious, predictable, and worthless, and that the end state they lead to is heat death. It's for those reasons we moderate discussion this way, not because we're secret atrocity sympathizers.

Edit: I think it can be helpful to understand how this is really a question of the medium you're posting to. Heated rhetoric that might make sense in a different medium doesn't work the same way in an online forum. No awareness is raised. All it does is provoke opposite flames, and then people try to destroy each other verbally and wreck the container in the process.

If your concern is to make points about reality in the hope that someone else will shift their view a bit, the only way to do that here is neutrally, because if you can't be neutral, the state machine simply advances to state Flamewar. If your concern is to vent rage about evil, that may well be justified, but it doesn't make sense here because the destruction it causes outweighs the limited relief it brings and the zero other good it does. This isn't personal or specific to your views. It's a way of tending to the container for everybody.

Fair enough. I'll find other ways to make my point.

Thank you!

Troll somewhere else. If you read even the first line of my comment you’d know I’m talking about protecting Afghan nationals. If you continued reading, you’d see that I agree with leaks exposing the evils committed.

This is exactly why Adrian did what he did.

According to him he did it as a matter of conscience given the broad and indiscriminate nature of what Manning was releasing, potentially putting the lives of US servicemen and those that work with them at risk.

As I recall he did it so he didn't get in trouble himself if anyone found out he new.

His stated reason was that Manning was putting lives in danger due to not filtering the documents released whatsoever. This included revealing the identities of Afghan nationals which had been friendly with the counterinsurgency. These nationals were then targeted by Taliban. See my sibling comment for more.

I don't know if he had a choice.

He has been incarcerated. He might have faced further incarceration by not disclosing. He was also hardly alone in his view.

Chelsea, meanwhile, knew that what she was doing had risks. She ended up having to face the consequences of her actions.

I'm glad she's released. But ultimately she is responsible for her actions and the outcome of her actions.

His family has said that he went dark on social media starting the 18-21st of Feb. He also had issues with substance abuse apparently, but who knows.

He had been involuntarily held more than once, and described his diagnosis of Asperger's to more than one publication. There were questions about the story he told, though, based on records not matching up with his narrative; this, to me, indicated a man not well, who needed help more than anything. I hope he was getting it.

That said, I think it's inappropriate to speculate, particularly when the circumstances likely involve mental health. We should really just celebrate Adrian and send our best to those who survive him, as well as take the opportunity to mention that mental health is extremely important in our line of work (and not!) and you should never feel bad for seeking help or fall victim to the stigma. Code can wait; you and your brain can't.

Tragic loss, way too young.

You have a good attitude on this; thank you.

Was it ever found out why he did it? I don't know the guy but it just seems like idk, what is there to gain out of this?

Here's an article about a public defense he gave back in 2010:


> He told the audience that he, like Manning and WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, had acted out of conscience. Lamo believed the cables were dangerous. "Holy fracken crap, there's 260,000 documents," he said, "Do you think you could look through those and make sure they wouldn't cause anybody's life to be lost?"

He was alarmed that the indiscriminate leaking could provide dangerous to people's lives (which by some accounts, it was)

He had claimed CYA, because he assumed he was being watched. If I recall there were a few conspiracy theories at the time because He had recently been arrested, and then put on psychiatric medication as a result.

Check out Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets. Lamo is featured quite a bit, in pretty intimate interviews.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16602351 and marked it off-topic.

If we only offered sympathies to those who deserved them somehow, it would be a very sad world.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16601642 and marked it off-topic.

"Chelsea Manning" is the preferred name that refers to the person Lamo reported. "Bradley Manning" is a former, non-preferred name. Nothing about history changes if a different name is used; the same person is referred to either way.

That you didn't recognize the person based on the preferred name only indicates that you've paid less attention to the news than you thought you had.

I'm rather surprised someone on hacker news could not have heard about Chelsea Manning in the past few years. (Or even just on the internet, really.)

If you have any interest in artificial intelligence and automation or their effects on society at large, I strongly recommend her Op-Ed in the Times last September [0].

Like her or not, she's a big figure in cybersecurity, freedom of information, and international politics. I thoroughly enjoy and benefit from what she has to say.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/opinion/chelsea-manning-b...

I have a very bad memory, perhaps the initial name association acts as a stronger pointer than subsequent modified pointers for me.

When writing about past well-known events, it is probably best to give both the names people went by at the time and their current names. You need the past names because those will be the names on documents from the time of the event.

Using a person's name from before they come out as transgender is called deadnaming and is a tactic favored among abusive people.

The polite thing to do, regardless of personal politics, is to simply reassociate the person with the name Chelsea Manning and move on with your life.


> Um, OK and rewriting history is a tactic favoured by fascists.

We're not rewriting history. Allowing a transgendered person to choose a new name doesn't change the basic facts about what happened. It's just an act of compassion towards someone who would otherwise be suffering from feelings neither you nor I personally experience, but are well documented by scientists.

> Shouldn't it be "Bradley Manning (now called Chelsea)"?

You could say "Chelsea Manning (at the time, 'Bradley')" if you really wanted to refresh people's memories, so long as you consistently refer to her as Chelsea through the rest of the comment/essay/etc.

> I prefer objective to polite.

This is a false dichotomy. You can be both.


You can't always raise objective facts and remain polite. I disagree.

Someone changing their name and identifying as the opposite sex after being arrested (the next day I think?) in a major political scandal makes that pertinent to the history of the situation. Hiding that by pretending the person always was identified as they currently are hides facts about the situation -- are they pertinent, maybe not to the primary issue, but the contemporaneous nature suggests something of interest (in social history if nothing else).

FWIW, Lamo himself consistently uses Chelsea/her/she when writing about the past:


Please stop.

How will I come to an understanding of why people act in this manner without questioning those who do?

Are you asking in your position as moderator?

That's easy: By questioning them on your own platform, not on HN.


You get to do that. Others get to do what they are doing too.

It's not about that. I'm not gonna tell you what to do, but I will absolutely tell you something about what it means.

Maybe you don't know.

Frankly, your preferences are toxic. The toxicity is rooted in lack of consideration for others.

Nobody is objective. Even you.

And that lack of consideration actually undermines your stated goal of objectivity. It's not really viable to attempt objectivity without actually considering others and the social dynamics in play.

Those carry a lot of implications for everyone involved, even you.

Now, trans people simply are the gender they self identify as. Manning didn't switch.

What she did was actualize herself better, and that means being able to present as who she is better. Would you have others live lies so you, personally feel better about who they are?

I wouldn't, and for one reason: What if it were me stuck with a bad deal like she got?

What is that bad deal?

Rather than always parsing every move, interaction, expression for gender norm compliance, essentially living a lie, she now simply is and does as any of us do. Who wants to live an act, facade like that?

Nobody, and that is a basic human truth. Nobody. It's hell.

Your attempt to connect things back to an identity that is a more or less a lie, a forced construct, does nothing but reinforce the lies and severe inhibition she just escaped from.

Further, by doing that, you also inhibit acceptance and amplify severe and personal pain and for what?

I will leave that for you to answer, save to say it's self serving and this world isn't just about you.

Consideration due is consideration given. You aren't giving any, leaving yourself due very little, which should explain the frank and blunt nature of my comment, which I really should not have to write.

Maybe it helps. Hope so. The world will be just a bit better, and that is my intent here.

Give a little, and 'ye shall receive.

Oh, and no response required or expected. I don't care about that. No need. Just think, and then consider acting on the product of those thoughts.



> unless you adopt my preferred method of reasoning on this tangential, hot-button topic that I haven't even given you a chance to properly discuss, you're an abusive person.

You're literally putting words in my mouth there.

I said that was a tactic favored among abusive people. That's not an accusation, that's an observable fact about how abusive people behave.

I choose my words carefully, y'know.

You know who else does that? Abusive people. I'm not saying you're an abusive person, but that is definitely behavior shared by abusive people. It's just an observable fact. I chose these words very carefully so you know I am not accusing you of being abusive, just associating you with abusive behavior.

> You know who else does that?

Who else does what, exactly? I can't follow what "that" is supposed to refer to.

It can be applied to any behavior. I was using it to illustrate that your previous statement was associating a person with something extremely negative and you defended it by saying something to the effect of 'I never said he was x'

You kinda did, though. It's weaselly language.

Oh come come, we all know you intended the implication.

"This is something that bad people do" isn't an accusation of being bad, regardless of how much it offends you.

People replicate the behaviors of terrible people either by accident or by mimicry all the time. My aim is to inform, not to condemn.

Indeed. I can't go and punch people in the face because I'm sad about somebody passing, either. You do not get to abuse others just because you're grieving.

And no, it's not a "hot button issue", it's about basic respect. And you know it, too, or you wouldn't have created a throwaway account.

But troll on, merry soldier.

Chelsea is Bradley, she's trans.

A name is a label (think C pointer) to a specific person. So yes, Lamo did report the person now known as Chelsea Manning. It was the person that was reported, not a name. Names in themselves are almost entirely inconsequential.

That's a really interesting way to frame it. Glad you posted that comment.

So, do you remember when the President of USA had that Apprentice show on TV?

To me that's wrong, the President didn't, but Donald Trump did.

There's no reason to hide that Trump hasn't always been president, and it's informative to know that he wasn't president at the time he was a TV character in a "game" (?) show.

If the name is inconsequential why does anyone care if you refer to the correct historical fact that "Bradley Manning (now called Chelsea) was reported ...".

They matter, just in different ways to different people. What's that quote - naming things and off-by-one errors??

All of your comments in this thread are a great example of why people make fun of HN commenters.

President is a job title, not a name.

You're right, I struggled for a good analogy.

lama of winamp?

Wow. I remember, long before he became famous (I think he went by ill at the time), discovering his Inside-AOL site that delved into the workings of AOL. It was really fascinating to me to find out how so much of it worked (that was the first place I heard of Rainman). I've always loved reading about how complex systems work, and that site was like crack to me.

I know that most people here will probably remember him mostly for what happened between him and Chelsea Manning (and, quite frankly, I automatically like anyone who makes an enemy of Julian Assange), but I want to remember him for his early work more than anything.

That page isn't loading for me, but he was not the Magus behind the famous Fate X AOL prog. I actually talked to that Magus and several of his friends a few years ago [1]. I'd heard Lamo claimed to be Magus, and maybe he went by that handle in some cases, but he was not the author of Fate X.

[1] http://patorjk.com/blog/2012/05/03/cracking-magus-fate-zero-...

That takes me back, I haven't heard anyone mention Rainman in over a decade...

So, I'm gonna lay it out here as I am having a bad day and don't feel like censoring myself. I'd known Adrian since 1998. He came to 2600 meetings in SF and was a fixture there. In that time, he generally didn't make any friends. While he was gay, he was also stalking a lady at the meetings, and being super creepy about it. Eventually, he left SF and was homeless. He got in trouble for hacking the NYT and making himself some Lexis Nexis accounts. He then reported Chelsea Manning to the authorities when she reached out to him, connected because of their shared LGBTQ background.

Lamo screwed Manning big time, but when he did, none of us who knew him were surprised. He was never a happy person, and never friendly to anyone I knew. I think his folks threw him out of the house in his teens.

Kind of a tragic figure, but also not really someone you could ever trust or even invite to parties. When anyone dies, it's sad. But with Adrian, he had already basically removed himself from the groups who knew him long ago. He was just seemingly not comfortable being in society and making friends.

I only had a couple run-ins with him online, but this doesn't surprise me at all. I've been an administrator on the English Wikipedia for over a decade now, and used to have a bit of a high profile on there. He would privately contact me occasionally trying to get me to make questionable edits to Wikipedia on his behalf. He came off as smarmy, manipulative, and his messages would occasionally veer into oddly sexual, inappropriate territory. I was sort of in awe of his "hacker" status at the time, which was why I put up with it for as long as I did, though I did eventually stop responding to him. This was well before the Manning stuff.

This is interesting, CydeWeys is a well known, respected and long time administrator of Wikipedia.

And for what it's worth, I've never given in and made questionable edits for anyone, not even Adrian.

I will say, though, that being the target of social engineering by someone you know is renowned for being good at social engineering is an interesting experience. You almost can't help yourself even though you know better.

You met Adrian Lamo at 2600 meetings and wouldn't invite him to parties. Other people in the community were close friends with him and allowed him to stay in their homes for weeks or months. I don't know him really at all, but I think this is a poor way to sum anyone up.

I don't know the person in question. He might have been a great person overall, to the people around him or maybe he wasn't very pleasant, but that was it. I don't know. Certainly people tend to have widely different impressions other people.

What I do know, and what the world should have thought us in the last couple of years, is that when this isn't the case it is often hiding in plain sight under layers of denial. And that the only way to uncover those things is to be able to speak about people and their actions. So while I do believe in being respectful I am not sure that we have earned the luxury to be uncomfortable when someone has a negative opinion about someone else.

> Lamo screwed Manning big time, but when he did, none of us who knew him were surprised. He was never a happy person, and never friendly to anyone I knew. I think his folks threw him out of the house in his teens.

> Kind of a tragic figure, but also not really someone you could ever trust or even invite to parties. When anyone dies, it's sad. But with Adrian, he had already basically removed himself from the groups who knew him long ago.

This is awfully similar to the impression of Aaron Swartz I've heard from those who knew him. All of them seem uncomfortable with the praise that was heaped on him after he died, though that's not to say that what happened to him wasn't awful. People are just very flawed, and it's hard to look at or acknowledge those flaws sometimes.

I seriously wonder how anyone can equate Adrian with Aaron. Aaron contributed to RSS, Creative Commons, and Markdown.

Aaron's story is by far the more tragic to me.

> Aaron's story is by far the more tragic to me.

I completely agree, and I absolutely wasn't trying to draw a comparison between their actions.

I also know Adrian from 2600 meetings, starting in about 1992. I have invited him into my home and had him stay a while on various occasions.

He’d always been comfortable in our friendship.

I find your summary distasteful and not accurate. You should have enough respect for life to not take the opportunity to trash someone on their death announcement.

If you don't mind, I have a question about Adrian that I've wondered about for a while. I first came across his name when I was researching the author of an old AOL hacking program known as Fate X. It was pretty popular on AOL at the time and was written by "Magus". In interviews around 2010, Adrian claimed he went by the handle Magus on AOL, and many people I talked to pointed to him when I was trying to track down the author. However, I later discovered the app was written by someone else. Did Adrian claim to have written Fate X? And did he ever go into detail about his AOL days? It may just be a coincidence that he used the same handle, but I always found this to be a little strange.

I can't find any reference to him saying he created Fate X. The Magus handle is most likely purely coincidental.

Thanks for opening up. How much weight do you put in the theories (stated in other comments) that Adrian thought he was under FBI surveillance, and reported Manning's leaks out of fear?

Honestly, I can't comment on that. I know Adrian was a SERIOUSLY good social engineer, and a fair to middling hacker. The chat logs show Adrian going very in depth with Chelsea, so if he thought the FBI was watching, he was purposefully giving them a good show.

I appreciate that you're being candid, but it's clear you also know that posting what you posted in this context is somehow wrong - otherwise why else justify it (childishly) on having a bad day?

Now my complaint: you could have posted this tomorrow and I wouldn't have so much trouble with it, but hijacking the announcement of someone's death to air privileged /and/ gossipy bits of their private life, their sexuality, their homelife, /and/ include allegations of sexual harassment all in one swoop strikes me as utterly distasteful, and the kind of personality I would not wish present at any party I ever attend.

The comments here are honest, at least. Complicated people yield complicated discussions when they die.

There's nothing complicated about the comments here. So far they're merely awful: someone's death being used as an opportunity for people to air their grievances about that person.

Imagine one of Adrian's family members sitting in a room with every person from this thread, and these comments being directed to them, in person.

Fucksake HN. You're being more classless than usual today.

This seems to be typical for obituary threads about political and tech celebrities. Hacker News isn't known for its empathy on the best of days.

Go see what happened when Ian Murdock died, if you want to know how crass this site can really be.

Is 2600Meetings still active ? I wanted to attend one of the meetings.

Yup. You can check the website.


Come on, man. His body's not even cold and it was well-known that he was experiencing mental health issues, potentially his entire life, including discovering he suffered from Asperger's after an involuntary hold (that he described himself). Your venting isn't actually far from that diagnosis making sense. Is this really the time and place for this?

Actually, I feel my comment is about as even handed as I could muster. Aspergers or not, he hurt a lot of people.

Serious question: what's the public benefit afforded by your comment?

What's the public benefit of hanging around on hacker news and chatting about things in general? Why would this be any different?

Hackernews discussion is intended to be productively informative. Knowingly putting someone down on a public forum does not make anyone better for it except maybe to educate the person making the mistake and others performing in an equal manner. Considering what Adrian was dealing with, any others like him might not even benefit from reading such things; this delivery method is more likely to fail than to succeed.

It's fine to constructively criticize. But it's inherently impossible to do that with someone who's died because they're dead. And with disorders which risk social impairment, public shaming isn't the solution either; it just drives people who don't understand how to address their challenges further and further into a hole.

I figure your question was intended as both maieutic and rhetorical, but please take into account what I'm sharing with you here.

People are expected in some capacity to grow on hackernews. This comment contributed no growth value to anyone.

Sometimes comments should be kept to ourselves, for another day.

And he's dead. What more do you want? We're all human beings. Can't you put it aside for two seconds?

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