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The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired (salon.com)
230 points by michael_dorfman on Dec 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 110 comments



Also of note though not specifically enumerated in this article, if you read the linked biography http://govsecinfo.com/events/govsec-2011/Speakers/Speaker%20... of Mark Rasch, who Salon says facilitated this whole thing, you'll notice his title is, "Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy Consulting, Computer Science Corporation".

Computer Science Corporation aka, "CSC" is a major government contractor for IT services. What better way to sell more overpriced crap to the government than to foment a climate of panic around the Wikileaks issue. A problem that CSC no doubt has the perfect multi million dollar enterprise "solution" for.

In other words Mark Rasch has a likely significant and surely direct financial interest in making news coverage about Manning as sensationalistic as humanly possible.


It would also be interesting to see who won the DARPA CINDER: http://www.darpa.mil/sto/solicitations/sn10-68/index.html this year.


I don't follow. Why would this be interesting?


Glenn Greenwald has consistently delivered the best analysis of what has been going on with Wikileaks. He's appalled at the way most of the media has covered this story and I couldn't agree more.


I don't understand - I thought the media was (justly) all over WikiLeaks, with special features in Guardian, NY Times and others? Short of the 2008 elections, I can't think of stories that got similar attention in recent years.

I don't get Greenwald's issue with Wired. Journalists rarely provide complete records or transcripts of their communications with sources. Even interviews contain mutually agreed "off the record" sections. Maybe they ought to release the chat logs, maybe not, either way "journalistic disgrace" sounds a bit hyperbolic.


The media has been all over Assange (especially his personal life), but they've been minimally interested in the leaks themselves. In fact, many media outlets have gone so far as to condemn the Wikileaks organization or to dismiss them as "not containing anything we didn't already know".

The problem isn't when journalists agree to keep some information off the record to protect a source. It's when doing so fundamentally changes the character of a story or is actually part of the story itself.

What Greenwald outlines is a journalist who is thoroughly compromised. It's gone so far that he's actually part of the story.

Two other similar examples come to mind:

1. When Judith Miller was given false information about Iraq that she used to write pro-Iraq invasion stories, she was using anonymous Bush administration sources. When it turned out that this information was incorrect, she decided to protect the identity of her sources. A real journalist would have realized that the story was: "Bush Official X leaked false information to journalists in order to sell the war to the American people." When a source makes you that much of a fool, you burn them, unless you were a helpful collaborator.

2. When Robert Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, he protected his source. At this time, Scooter Libby was peddling this information on behalf of Vice President Cheney's office. This was in retaliation for her husband, Joe Wilson's, release of information dismissing the Iraq/Niger Yellow Cake story that the US used as a reason to go to war. However, it turned out that it was Tim Russert (a longtime member of the DC press establishment) who had passed along the leaked Scooter Libby information to Novak. Tim Russert covered the Valerie Plame story for years before anyone knew he was the reason for her outing. And Russert failed for years to use his inside knowledge to report the true story to the American people. This led to Scooter Libby being able to take a minimal charge of obstruction of justice and ultimately a sentence commutation from George Bush.

So this isn't so much about keeping notes or a transcript. It's about a member of the press with the truth at their disposal, but choosing to hide it for some reason. My guess is he's writing a book and would like to keep some information proprietary, but considering the case that Greenwald levels, some sort of response is appropriate.


> The media has been all over Assange (especially his personal life), but they've been minimally interested in the leaks themselves.

I disagree strongly with you. The NYT (as an example) has entire pages dedicated on their website for both the war logs and and diplomatic cables. Even several days ago their front page (print) story was from the leaks. The media is not dropping the ball on this, it's just that alternative media talking heads desperately want them to drop the ball and so just keep saying that they have.

Like it or not, Julian is the face of Wikileaks and his eccentricities and the intrigue surrounding him is part of the story. A compelling part. One that gets more people reading about this than otherwise would have. Reporting isn't just about telling facts no matter how unbiased a reporter or news establishment might be. This is precisely why Wikileaks releases raw data to their media partners for analysis under an embargo in the first place; analysis which comes with some bias.

Would you consider it good reporting if the media were to never address the rape allegations when interviewing Assange? Even if they're fabricated?

> In fact, many media outlets have gone so far as to condemn the Wikileaks organization or to dismiss them as "not containing anything we didn't already know".

Which media outlets are those? Suggesting that outside of the context of an Op-Ed would be pretty unethical, but I haven't see that and I haven't read it anywhere.


- Most people don't see a difference between an Op-Ed and actual news. Most cable news networks don't easily distinguish between news and opinion reporting since both are regularly done by the same people.

- I've noted a few articles in the previous comment that make the assertion that nothing new was released by Wikileaks in the article headlines. Most people don't really read beyond those anyway.

- Again we're focusing on Julian Assange. While there is a story to be written about him, that story is easy and lazy. The far harder story is to actually investigate the cables. Since the cables were transmitted to Wikileaks, vetted by select media partners, and released, no one has accused him of either fabricating or falsifying anything contained in these leaks. The rape accusations against him (while serious and perhaps true) do not change the information contained therein. The source doesn't actually taint the leaked information.

It'd be like me writing:

Former illegal cocaine and marijuana user, President Barack Obama, took a trip to Hawaii for Christmas break. Since he had been known to get a speeding ticket, it's interesting that he's asked to speed up the time table for implementing the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

True, but irrelevant.


> - Most people don't see a difference between an Op-Ed and actual news. Most cable news networks don't easily distinguish between news and opinion reporting since both are regularly done by the same people.

So your argument is: "Most people don't realize that there's a difference between opinion and reporting, so there isn't one."? I don't accept that people can't distinguish, and even if true, I don't accept that it makes any difference in the truth.

There is also a difference between real new organizations -- viz. print -- and cable news. Even on Fox News, however (note: I don't watch cable news frequently, I'm assuming this is still the case), their opinion shows are clearly separate from their actual reporting. O'Reilly, Hannity, Fox and Friends all discuss the news but aren't reporting it.

> Again we're focusing on Julian Assange. While there is a story to be written about him, that story is easy and lazy. The far harder story is to actually investigate the cables.

Forgive me, but, It's a bit offensive to the reporters at the New Yorker, or the Times, or the NYT to imply that such a story is easy and lazy. You make it sound like the two stories are mutually exclusive and it's not as it the cables themselves are being ignored by anyone.

> The rape accusations against him (while serious and perhaps true) do not change the information contained therein. The source doesn't actually taint the leaked information.

I'm not sure how major media outlets are implying that it does tain the leaked information. If you can see that, what makes you think that others can't?

> Former illegal cocaine and marijuana user, President Barack Obama, took a trip to Hawaii for Christmas break. Since he had been known to get a speeding ticket, it's interesting that he's asked to speed up the time table for implementing the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

I honestly don't know how you can't see that there's an ethical difference between what you said and the bias it contains and reporting that Julian Assange is accused of rape. If Obama were accused of rape and tried to pass DADT, you can bet it would be reported on too. Like it or not, the world doesn't organize itself into self-contained encapsulated segments of information. Humanity and human faces are a part of reporting, one that drives more people to know about things like the leaks than otherwise would have.


>Which media outlets are those? Suggesting that outside of the context of an Op-Ed would be pretty unethical, but I haven't see that and I haven't read it anywhere.

For example, http://www.slate.com/id/2261780/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10781413

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/opinion/27exum.html


Half these stories report the US government saying the leaks aren't that important, the other half are op ed columns saying the same. The BBC, WaPo, NYT and Slate all covered the leaks extensively.

What would you expect them to do? Not report on any comments that downplay the leaks' importance? Ban op eds with this opinion? Reporting on WikiLeaks in a way that'll satisfy the Greenwald crowd seems to require a North Korean style of journalism.


Libby never received a pardon from Bush, only a commutation of the jail time. He still has a felony conviction on his record.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter_Libby#Presidential_Comm...


You're right. I've edited it. The point remains that Libby did not spend any time in jail.


>The media [..] been minimally interested in the leaks themselves

Here are two leading newspaper sites' special WikiLeaks section: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/wikileaks

There are quite a few more, in many languages. In my opinion it's the opposite of minimal interest.

The fact Assange's personal life are also reported makes sense. We can't claim he should be person of the year and at the same time expect no interest in his personal life.

I'm not sure I see the connection to Miller or Russert here. Is our understanding of the basic narrative (ie Manning obtaining the documents, passing them to Assange, disclosing it later to Lamo) likely to change if we have the full chat logs? Seems to me that rather than holding to some important truths, Wired are at best keeping some details they might hope to profit from later.

This is why Greenwald calling it "journalistic disgrace" comes off so hyperbolic. Rather than a reporter in search of truth, he comes off as a spoiled kid that learned to expect the world will provide him whatever he wants if he screams loud enough. As I wrote, the pundit for the Reddit generation.


By the media, I don't mean just The New York Times and The Guardian. There are more than 5000 local newspapers in this country (where most people get their information), cable tv, and radio. It's become a widely spread idea that this past round of Wikileaks contained nothing new. The Obama Administration has asserted this as fact and it was widely reported by CBS, BBC, The Huffington Post and more. However, these articles are widely syndicated and a quick search on Google brings this up:

WikiLeaks Classified Diplomatic Cable Release Yields No Surprises ... - Daily Finance

No surprises seen in WikiLeaks Iraq war data: Pentagon - Reuters (which is widely syndicated)

WikiLeaks shocker? In Kabul, Pakistan support for Taliban is no surprise - Christian Science Monitor

WikiLeaks torture cables no surprise - Yahoo News

Heck, even a letter to the editor at the Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington, IL confirms my suspicion that many/most people don't believe there was anything new in the WikiLeaks dump at all:

http://www.pantagraph.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_ab85f...

"It wasn’t anything we didn’t know and it will all be forgotten, even by the media, except by the dumb military guy who gave them access to the Internet connections and will probably be tried for treason and left in jail."

The perception has been created. Most people don't read The New York Times or the Guardian and most small town newspapers report what the AP and Reuters deliver on national matters.

You won't find me arguing that Julian Assange isn't some kind of a story. But he's not even close to the whole thing. And he's basically irrelevant when it comes to investigating the leaks themselves. The information contained in the leaks are stories, most of which are glossed over by most of the media. Greenwald does a great job summing up a few of them: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/24...


Would you expect the newspapers not to print what Obama says, if it downplays WikiLeaks importance? Or that a google search will not find you some stories that understate them?

Or that when someone with Assange's prominence is charged with rape in Sweden (totally bogus IMHO, but still - Sweden is generally considered an advanced, sane nation) the media won't find it interesting?

The world contains people who hold different opinions from Glen Greenwald, and they get to publish them too.


> When Robert Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, he protected his source. At this time, Scooter Libby ... Tim Russert (a longtime member of the DC press establishment) who had passed along the leaked Scooter Libby information to Novak

Libby wasn't the source and Russert wasn't in the chain.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Plame

"On July 14, 2003, Washington Post journalist Robert Novak, from information obtained from Richard Armitage at the US State Department, effectively ended Valerie Plame's career with the CIA (from which she later resigned in December 2005) by revealing in his column her identity as a CIA operative.[31][32]"

That said, "Why Armitage's role in disclosing Plame's identity to Novak was not pursued has never been explained."


It's entirely possible that Armitage was also a source. There was clearly a coordinated effort from the Vice President's office to discredit Joe Wilson. However, Libby claimed that Russert was his source too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Russert

"In the Plame affair, Scooter Libby, convicted chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Russert told him of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame"

"Posthumously Russert was revealed as a thirty-year source of columnist Robert Novak, whose original article revealed Plame's affiliation with the CIA."

Written by Robert Novak: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/my_friend_...

"Russert and I were both uncomfortable about being witnesses, for different reasons, in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case, but we never discussed it. He always supported me, despite demands that he throw me overboard. When my memoir was published last year, Russert was generous in granting me abundant time on "Meet the Press" and his own MSNBC program."

I'm not sure how Russert could throw him overboard if he wasn't a source.


> It's entirely possible that Armitage was also a source. There was clearly a coordinated effort from the Vice President's office to discredit Joe Wilson. However, Libby claimed that Russert was his source too.

Whether or not that's true, it's irrelevant to the (false) claim that Libby was Novak's source. At best, it establishes that Libby wasn't Russert's source either, that the information went the other way.


Agreed. I share Glenn's skepticism of the Lamo's changing stories but y'know it was the New York Times who published it, not Wired. At some level it comes across as sour grapes and jealousy that Kevin knows more about than he does.


His delicious hyperbole is why I love Glenn Greenwald.


Indeed, the pundit for the Reddit generation ;)


Isn't reddit a bit too niche for it to have a "reddit generation"?


I should certainly hope so


Depending on the quality of the coverage, the level of attention paid can be incidental to the clarity provided.

See "Signal to Noise" for details. See FOX News for examples.


Wired has always been the worst kind of tabloid (The Web is Dead, push technology is the future, the dotcom bubble won't ever burst...), their lack of journalistic ethics doesn't surprise me in the least.


I'm not a fan of Wired, but Salon (and certainly Greenwald) have been doing a very similar kind of reporting.


Still, It's not Poulsen's obligation to release the Lamo-Manning logs. If Greenwald wants them so much, he is free to contact Lamo himself. Also, don't forget Lamo could have edited the logs before giving them to Poulsen and it's only Lamo's word that assures their authenticity.


The article says that Lamo says he doesn't have them any more.


I suppose we can't prove he is telling the truth


"Whether by design or effect, Kevin Poulsen and Wired have played a critical role in concealing the truth from the public about the Manning arrest."

Manning is in a cell getting the worst possible treatment for God's sake.

The damage has been done, however, anyone who cares can sign this petition "Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning" (it's a blog post with a petition, to be more precise): http://my.firedoglake.com/blog/2010/12/23/bradley-manning-sp...


Inhumane? Please. He is a traitor and after reading that article is not being treated inhumanely.


Those who joined in the American revolution were also traitors. Sometimes traitors are right.


Not much for due process, areya?


Due process in the military is not the same as due process for civilians. This is well-known and not sprung upon people after they join the armed forces.


I'm pretty sure the UCMJ doesn't allow for calling people traitors before they've been convicted.


As it turns out, treason isn't even in the UCMJ.


It doesn't make it any less morally reprehensible.


Looks like someone needs to do some leaking down at the Wired office.

That would be interesting, particularly if the chat logs were "leaked" to Wikileaks. Would they still publish the logs, even if the logs meant life imprisonment for Bradley Manning? Would that then be a breach of trust between Wikileaks and Manning?

Anyway, besides all my ridiculous speculation and getting ahead of things; The title is in no way an exaggeration, and Poulson should think rather hard about what he's going to do about it.


The title seems like a huge exaggeration to me. Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post is taking the same stance at Kevin. I certainly can see why other journalists wish they would publish the chat logs but it's their call, not Glenn's.


If evidence in Wikileaks favor was leaked to Wikileaks the conflict of interest would call into question the validity of the evidence. It would be better if it were provided to a 3rd party with no stake in the outcome.


Supposedly, Adrian Lamo had submitted the logs to Wikileaks to pose this conundrum before giving them over to Wired.


Source? It's interesting if true, but I think that would be hard to verify, as Lamo's honesty is suspect and Assange has no problem lying about what he does or does not have.



cite?


Greenwald doesn't seem to think that Lamos is a credible witness because statements he has made in the press aren't corroborated in the released sections of the chat log. But, (1) isn't it likely that the chat logs aren't the full extent of the communication between Manning and Lamos during this period, and (2) if Lamos is suspect, the chat logs are meaningless anyways, as they can easily be doctored.

How does the release of the full transcript solve either of these problems?


They don't, his argument revolves more around the fact that not releasing them is exceedingly suspicious not that their release would be the savior of iron clad truth.


Agreed -- although see points by nir and me elsewhere in the thread that it's not actually suspicious that he's not releasing them.


Suspicious, but if you don't trust Lamos, than it's also completely inconsequential to the truth.

Evidence is only valuable if, after confirm its existence, your beliefs shift in some direction.


One can not trust Lamos, but believe that he didn't have the foresight to work out a consistent story before sending the chat logs to Wire.


If Lamos's story were consistent, would you be any more likely to believe it? If not, then you already have sufficient evidence that Lamos can't be trusted and you can just point to that. Evidence can't be important if, after learning it, you believe the exact same things.


1) i'd say it is possible but the likelihood is questionable.

2) There's a timing factor. Lamo's description of what the chat logs contain has seemingly changed. Which description matches the chat logs held by Wired? How about those held by other news agencies?


Viewing information as a currency, until the chat logs are published, people who know what was in them have an advantage no matter whether or not it is true.


That doesn't make any sense. If P(whatever Lamos wrote | whether Wikileaks aided Manning) = P(whatever Lamos wrote), then your posterior probability always equals your prior probability, and you haven't learned anything.

If you don't trust Lamos, nothing written in the transcripts will (and should!) change your mind.


That's correct but the logs affect P(people will trust Lamo's current and future stories). If he had told Kevin in May that the purported Bradley claimed to have communicated with Julian, then the same claim made now to Charlie has somewhat higher credibility.

Also just because somebody is untrustworthy doesn't mean they are lying about everything or even most of the time.


bad link, go to the full story straight away: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/27...


Perhaps Wired is only releasing those parts of the logs that they are able to find some corroboration for. Considering the Salon author's prior poorly researched reporting on Manning, the idea of actually checking on things before publishing may be alien to him.


That's an awfully charitable attitude toward Wired, who has stonewalled without comment any inquiry regarding the logs since they got them.

Considering the amount of public pressure the US Government has exerted in prior restraint of the press and punishing those in their employ who might read Wikileaks, it seems reasonable to conclude that Wired is withholding them either under government duress or is saving them up for a different story (like a book or a post-conviction victory lap). In other words, power and/or money, not public benefit.


Kevin Poulsen's response on Twitter:

Heard there's a measured, mature critique I should respond to. Will look for it tomorrow when I'm back from vacation.


If the USG wants to charge Assange with aiding/abetting Manning, then it is in their interest to not have the chat logs released. As long as the chat logs are hidden, the USG can claim that Manning admitted to Lamo that he received some help from Assange, and bingo! Assange can be indicted.


If the chat logs say something different and the government lies about it to get an indictment, then it would be a disaster for the prosecution.


Yes, but this isn't about a trial, this is about the court of public opinion. Getting civilian charges filed and then thrown out on "technical grounds" is almost the best case scenario if you're Pentagon PR. You get to indicit Assange (with loads of press coverage of him in chains to drive home the idea that he's evil and to scare off other whistleblowers and/or journalists) and then you get to blast the inadequacy of civilian courts for national security trials when (a year later) they throw out the case of a guy "everybody knows is guilty" on technical grounds which are far to complex to fit in a sound bite.


Can someone explain this part of the article to me?

But after that, The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima quoted from the chat logs and included several parts that (a) Wired had withheld but (b) were not about personal matters or national security secrets; see this analysis here of what was disclosed by the Post, Wired and others. (Nakashima and the Post refuse even to say whether they possess all the chat logs. When I asked Nakashima several months ago, she referred my inquiry to a corporate spokeswoman, who then told me: "We don't discuss the details of our newsgathering." But I focus here on Poulsen because of his central role in these events, his long-standing relationships with the key parties, and the fact that -- unlike the Post, which obviously has nothing to do with journalism -- I actually expect better of Wired).

Is Greenwald saying that the Washington Post "has nothing to do with journalism"?

As in, what the WaPo does is not journalism?


Yes.


Does anybody but me find it sort of comic-booky that the head of Project Vigilant, a group surveilling the Internet so the government won't have to, is named "Uber"?


It's interesting reading the email exchange between Greenwald and Poulsen. To me it looks like Glenn trying bullying trial lawyer tactics: "you have to admit there's something disturbing about all of this" etc. That approach isn't going to work well with Kevin.


There is something point-blank disturbing about it. A journalist has an exclusive on a major news story, and he's making no effort to publish it. In terms of suspiciousness, this is like cats not chasing mice - it's just so far outside normal behavior that you just have to assume something else is in play.


"The dog that didn't bark." --Sherlock Holmes


A journalist has information provided to him by a source and he's not publishing it yet. It happens all the time.


Could it be that the information in the chat logs are sensitive and he/Wired is avoiding the legal nightmare that may be caused by publishing?


I'm sure the legal issue could be circumvented by having the logs 'leaked'.


What "legal nightmare" do you imagine could be visited upon them?


Okay I admit to skimming after the tenth paragraph or so, so if I screw up my response I apologize. The article just seemed very wordy, but not so substantive.

<snark>But am I to understand that the beef here is that wired is _not_ publishing something that others think they should? So now not only do we need a world with no secrets, we also need a world where the mob can demand that others publish whatever we ask?

I know the counter-response will be something like "but they made statements for which we have no support and the chat logs could either prove or refute those statements"

To that response, all I have to offer is that there is an active criminal investigation, not carried out in the press or the mob but by due process, and that news sources all the time say things from anonymous sources and such. I don't like it when they do, but I don't think demanding that every news source that uses an anonymous source release their name is very realistic either.

I understand that this is an emotionally-charged issue. And folks want to know. But you can rest assured that it will all eventually come out. If that's not fast enough for you, then perhaps a little more patience might help.

This whole thing -- the subsequent events to WL and Manning's arrest, including the title of the article here, has the air of a bunch of assholes kicking around folks just to keep their emotions stirred up and readership levels high. It's become the chatty, gossipy topic-of-the-week. If you can't find a juicy enough Wikileaks story, then run a story about the story that doesn't exist. What did they say about cable news during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? It's all Monica, all the time. Wikileaks makes folks crazy, and I have a feeling various news outlets are going to be yanking our chain with this for some time to come. There's money in it, no matter what angle you use.</snark>

Feel free to correct me if I've missed something.


As far as I know, Wired is not operating under a gag order and they are not a party to the case. It is not illegal or anything to evaluate independently-possessed evidence.


Don't just complain about this. Show Wired how much interest there is in releasing the chat logs. I'm organizing response here: http://kommons.com/questions/418


Has there ever been an effective online poll?



This isn't a poll. It's a request for information.


I'm mildly surprised that a media outlet is actually calling this out at another organization.

In my opinion, every media outlet has been complicit in helping the U.S. powers that be try to discredit Wikileaks and distract from the contents of the leaks. Not to mention hiding corruption.

Wikileaks has done a great job at showing the world how much those in power don't care about anything but their own power (and their "conspiracy network"). But all I'm seeing is the same apathetic and head-in-the-sand response from the general population to reality.


Except Salon: they have had very good coverage. I donated money to them a few days ago, largely because I wanted to make sure that they could be one of the only sources in the USA of real news (besides the Comedy Channel).


They are the only U.S. media outlet that doesn't just blatantly make shit up. Unlike the NY Times where it's rare to make it through a full page without finding a blatant error, Salon is almost never wrong.


These type of comments are what makes me really wary of what comes after the current mainstream media implodes. Instead of becoming more skeptic of what they read, people just replace blind faith in one source with blind faith in another.


If the way I judge what I read is by how many errors I find in it, isn't that the exact opposite of blind faith?


But no one can possibly catch all the errors in all articles (esp since many of the worst ones are not factual errors, but context issues)


If this were on the New York Times editorial page, I'd agree with you, but I can't believe you're surprised that Glenn Greenwald is angry at another media outlet. He is angry about the same thing every week.


This is the first time I've heard of Greenwald. I don't read Salon regularly. However the occasional article I have read has been decent.


There's plenty to be angry about.


Keep reading Greenwald, he's been superb on this issue and agrees with you.


I do not have a very high opinion of Glenn Greenwald in general. I mention this not to support my argument but to admit my bias up front. I have other biases as well - about whether this material was leaked, whether it should have been leaked, and whether it should have been published as it has been - but I'm trying to steer clear of such issues here and just address the specific topic of this article. The morality of these leaks is a political question; until there are changes in the law, responsibility for the leaks is a more narrow legal question.

For reference, where I talk about the contents of these chat logs I'm referring to the the same source Greenwald does, at http://firedoglake.com/merged-manning-lamo-chat-logs/ That seems like factual summary with zero editorial commentary; citing it is not meant to express any particular view on the site's editorial/political stance. However, it does have some sloppy copyediting (summary descriptions of following section appearing inline as if they were the final line of chat) and seem to be somewhat incomplete, per this BoingBoing story http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/20/was-alleged-wikileak.ht... - likely an honest mistake, as BoingBoing's writer apparently edited the transcripts subsequently out a desire to avoid prejudice. Finally, I am not a lawyer, and so these are nothing more than the opinions of an amateur.

EDIT: downvoting doesn't bother me, but absent comment I have no idea what part of it you disagreed with...

It seems to me that Greenwald is assuming his own conclusion here, that the chat logs provide evidence of Manning's innocence. They could, of course; and I imagine that Manning's Lawyer will subpoena them for just that reason: if he can not get them from Wired, then he can get them from Lamo or the FBI. (Lamo apparently says the FBI took his computer with the logs on them, but until he says so under oath that doesn't mean a thing.)

There are alternative possibilities, which Greenwald does not address, that could well justify Wired's withholding other parts of the chat logs and still maintaining a high standard of journalistic ethics.

First: the possibility that the logs contain more evidence of Manning's or Assange's guilt. Lamo makes statements to multiple journalistic sources such as the NYT and Washington Post as well as to Wired; so whether Poulsen reports his remarks first or not, the fact that such allegations are being made is a matter of public record. Poulsen neither confirms nor denies Lamo's allegations with reference to the chat logs. Greenwald argues that he should, as Lamo's accusations amount to prosecuting Manning and Assange in public. However, accusations without evidence are just talk. If Poulsen releases the transcripts, many will see the contents as conclusive evidence, whether they support or undermine Lamo's assertions, or even if they are ambiguous. That could make a fair trial for Assange impossible, if indeed he is charged. It could also amount to conducting Manning's (military) trial in public in a way that undermines his rights.

As yet, there's no proof that Bradley Manning was 'Bradass87' or that he was the one conducting those conversations (vs someone else using his login, say), or that the logs are a true and unedited copy of actual chats. But the logs that are public already are being treated as the indisputable truth. That they are public makes it very difficult for Manning's lawyer to attack their admissibility as evidence: if he does so, many people will dismiss his arguments as lies. Just the fact that the public logs have the 'feel' of a real conversation is enough for many people to decide they're authentic, for the same reason that people often remember movies better than they do real history. Even if it can be shown that the chat logs are authentic records of conversations between Manning and Lamo, they are only evidence that Manning believed and said certain things to Lamo. As far as the logs talk about Assange, their legal value is that of hearsay evidence. But opponents of Assange will treat such hearsay remarks as proven facts (they're not even close), while his supporters will say none of it is admissible at all because it's hearsay (not true either). Regardless of which side Poulsen or anyone else is on, making that material public risks undermining justice.

Personally, I think it would have been better not to release any transcripts at all in order to avoid biasing a trial (either of Manning or of Assange, if he is charged later). Mind, that's very much a personal opinion. I'm also against police releasing mugshots or making people do perp walks because so many assume that criminal defendants must be guilty because they look bad. But suppose, for argument's sake, that there's so much evidence of Manning being the leaker that the facts are not really in question, and that's why Poulsen felt ethically justified in releasing partial transcripts.

This leads me towards the other possibility which might have led Poulsen to release only partial transcripts - the question of Manning's motivations. In the published logs he sounds like someone offended by the government's low ethical standards, unhappy in his job situation, and alternatively bragging and remorseful about the magnitude of the revelations. So his defense might go ahead on the basis of 'yes, he broke his oath and leaked all these documents, but he was young and idealistic and believed himself to be acting on a higher purpose, thus he's really only guilty of exercising very poor judgment.' But (in theory) if the unpublished logs include him having a bad day and going on an extended rant to the effect that 'bin Laden was right' or 'the American empire deserves to collapse' or something? Such sentiments are not unknown, and considering that members of Congress have already been calling for the kid's execution - although none of the charges against him carry the death penalty - if evidence of a 'bad' motivation comes before the public there's likely to be lynch mobs forming outside the camp where he's being held. More likely, there's an entirely different set of possible motivations.

[Quoting OP article] When I first wrote back in June about Wired's concealment of these chat logs, the excuses Poulsen gave were quickly proved to be false.

That's very much a matter of opinion. The parts that were not in Wired's original release which later appeared in the WaPo (orange and red text at the link above) all seem to me to have a bearing on these subjects. 'Sensitive information' could refer to the removal of Assange's name/identifying detail in some places, but mostly Wired's redactions seem to concern such personal matters as Manning's emotions, mental stability, and life situation, which might interpreted as damning or mitigating by different people. Greenwald says several parts are neither, but doesn't say which parts or (more importantly) why he thinks so.

The personal information here appears to show Manning as a troubled kid who turned to the army in search of the stability that was missing in his life, but became deeply disillusioned with the institution and country he served. It appears that the army had become disillusioned with Manning too, and that he was being discharged for an 'adjustment disorder.' What that means is uncertain, but there's been a lot of speculation to the effect that Manning was gay or had gender identity issues. That's a pretty contentious subject as far as it relates to the military (see the depth of feeling in the recent debate about repealing DADT) and the extent to which it could have affected Manning personally, and the extent to which any lack of stability on Manning's part would be his fault or that of the army's, are questions which could have a significant bearing on his sentence. And because the issue is very contentious, it tends to split opinion further among those already holding polarized opinions: if you think Manning's a bad person, then his personal hangups may compound his moral failings or be an unacceptable sympathy play; if you think he's a good person, then his personal hangups may be an additional justification for leaking the secrets of an unfairly discriminatory, or an unacceptable attempt to smear him as a sexual deviant.

It seems to me that Poulsen decided to publish those parts of the logs which showed Manning's access to, awareness of, and methods for leaking classified information. In other words, the published excerpts offer answers to the question of where multiple different leaks of military and diplomatic information came from (one single intelligence analyst tasked with cross-referencing army intel with that from other branches of government); whether the leaking was a deliberate act, or an accidental result of bureaucratic incompetence (deliberate, with understanding of content, likely publicity, and negative impact); and whether the allegations were credible (obviously the government intranet does not include a 'leak to public?' option, and the weak point was the CD-RW supposedly filled with Lady Gaga tunes (am I the only person who finds this detail bizarrely ironic?)). All this information is concerned with factual issues. Courts-martial have to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt as do civilian courts, but they differ in terms of things like jury requirements, which may make it easier to deal with the publication of factual evidence than would be the case for a civilian trial. But while it may be easy to prove the acts occurred, mental state, criminal responsibility, and would be an appropriate sentence are much trickier questions. Because such matters are inherently subjective, the standards for evaluating them are different from those for establishing material fact, and there are different risks of potential bias.

My guess is that Wired's legal department (rather than Poulsen as an individual) would have gone through the transcripts marking different sections as factual or subjective, with lesser or greater possibilities of bias and thus legal liability for publication.


My guess on why you're being downvoted is because this very long comment starts with the sentence: "It seems to me that Greenwald is assuming his own conclusion here, that the chat logs provide evidence of Manning's innocence."

I don't remember Greenwald ever claiming or even giving off a vibe that he didn't think that Manning was the leaker; this is a media critique, like most of his work. Doesn't bode well for the next 1400 words.


Ah, I guess that's my fault for using my terms too loosely. Greenwald certainly does seem to think Manning was the leaker. But he also seems to think that Manning is very possibly not guilty (or as I carelessly put it, 'innocent') on both factual and legal grounds. In the following link, for example, Greenwald both expresses skepticism about whether Manning is definitely responsible for all the leaking, as well as whether he had the state of mind required for criminal responsibility, remarking that '[..] Manning clearly believed that he was a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives, and probably was exactly that.' (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14...)

This reads to me - perhaps incorrectly - like Greenwald is saying that Manning may have a valid legal defense for his actions, as a military whistleblower. If so, I think - again, perhaps incorrectly - that Greenwald is wrong, and that the Supreme Court has put tighter limits on military whistleblowers than on the general public (Parker v. Levy 417 US 733 (1974) http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7171415278006906...). Please note that I'm speculating on what the law actually is, not what it ought to be.


". Greenwald certainly does seem to think Manning was the leaker. But he also seems to think that Manning is very possibly not guilty (or as I carelessly put it, 'innocent') on both factual and legal grounds. "

I've read every article Greenwald has ever written on Manning, and I've never seem him state that, or even imply that Manning is not guilty. About the furthest I've seen him go is imply that perhaps we should not presume him to be guilty before trial, and that we should treat him as a suspect, and not a convicted felon, until that point.


Do you mean that you don't agree with my reading of what he said in the example I gave? (It's about half way down the linked page, right after a ' * * * * * ' divider, or you could just search on the text I quoted.)

Greenwald does go into some detail about why he considers Manning to be a 'whistleblower' - a term with legal meaning, as used in eg 'Military Whistleblower Protection Act.' It certainly sounds like he's suggesting it would be a valid defense (as in, 'yes, I did those things but I am not guilty because I was acting as a whistleblower'). If not, what do you think he means?


> First, the possibility that the logs contain more evidence of Manning's or Assange's guilt

You seem to think its ok for Poulsen to hide the logs if doing so would make Manning look better, or if it would somehow make for a fairer trial. But Greenwald isn't arguing that Poulsen is just making Manning look bad.

Greenwald's Wired critique is based on the idea that journalism is about discovering truth. Poulsen is hiding that truth, whatever it is -- that's what makes it inexcusable.


Not exactly. It may be that Poulsen can corroborate the published material sufficiently well to feel confident in its truthfulness, but not the unpublished portions.


Speaking of disgrace, Salon is prominently featuring ads to scammy sites like hxxp://www.online8report.com/Acai-Berry/ right next to that article.


This may be too far out there, but does anyone believe that perhaps Poulsen has some closeted sympathy for Manning given his black hat history and subsequent history with law enforcement? I'm not saying that is his motive, but I do wonder if it plays into his decision at all. He once did also actively pursue freedom of information through non-legal means.


TL;DR summary: Glenn thinks Kevin Poulsen is a disgrace for not publishing the chat logs Adrian Lamo gave him involving Bradley Manning (or somebody claiming to be Bradley) (as potentially edited by Adrian).


Your summary misses the longest and most interesting part of the article: the discussion of the pre-existing relationship between Lamo, Mark Rasch, Poulsen, and Chet Uber (can the names in the saga get any better?), the fact that Rasch is the guy who sent Poulsen to prison before he was a writer for Wired, the fact that Rasch himself is a writer for Wired, and the fact that Lamo's claims about the contents of the log continue to shift in ways that seem beneficial to the prosecution.


Fair enough. None of this is news but the information about the relationships is useful for people who aren't familiar with the backstory.

As for Lamo's story continuing to shift, gee, what a surprise.


I'd say the information about pre-existing relationships among the players, as well as conflicts of interest within them, is indeed news.


News to Greenwald, apparently. It's well known in the security and civil liberties communities.


Regardless of how well known those relationships are in certain circles, Wired should still disclose them when publishing a story, given that they have a much wider target audience.


I usually like Greenwald and in general agree with his argument here. But I sure as hell don't like the ad-homing of Lamo as a mental patient and convicted felon. Not relevant, Glenn.


I don't know that he's engaging in an ad hominem so much as pointing out that it is unusual for someone who was just released from mental health supervision to be acting as a key witness in a federal prosecution. And Adrian lamo is a convicted felon so that's a factual detail relevant to the story.

The thing that makes this story confusing to many people is that there are multiple overlapping contexts in play here.

1. Glenn Greenwald is attempting to hold Kevin Poulsen accountable as a journalist for holding back information relevant to the story and for failing to disclose his ties to other actors who are directly involved in the story.

2. Greenwald is attempting to establish when Lamo began working for the government in this case, and is using parts of the transcript released so far to show that it was probably much earlier than Lamo claims.

3. He's also attempting to show that it's quite likely that the inhumane treatment being afforded to Pfc. Manning is intended to coerce him into implicating others in his criminal activities whether the facts and the law support that implication or not.


s/--/&mdash;/g


Out of interest am I being down-voted because this is off topic, too short, or because no-one is interested in typesetting and the humble em dash?


This is Wikileaks thesis that those who have influence are hiding facts to miss-lead public to a different conclusion..

Here we have 2 of the 4 and possibly 3 of the four being government informants driving a miss-leading conclusion of the media story and using Wired as government mouthpiece..

I submit that wikileaks will not be charged by the US government due to the corrupt miss-handling of both government informants in this case as well las the PR work the government embarked upon...there are simply too many skeletons that no-one wants to see the light of day..

And the US government has history of dropping prosecution if secrets are used as evidence in courts as they do not want them exposed...However, Manning is different case because he will be in the Military court system not the public US court system..which is unfortunate as he should be able to defend himself using whatever evidence Wired has..


What's the problem? He has a right not to publish. This article screams "written because I'm mad at Wired." Get your own source and then we'll talk about who's a "journalistic disgrace."


Great article. Flagged as not hacker relevant. Post it to Reddit.




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