How Bradley Manning passed on the classified material to WikiLeaks
An innocuous-looking memory stick, no longer than a couple of fingernails, came into the hands of a Guardian reporter earlier this year. The device is so small it will hang easily on a keyring. The 1.6 gigabytes of text files ran to millions of words.
Bradley Manning, 22, a former intelligence analyst is charged with unauthorized downloads of classified material while serving on an army base outside Baghdad. It was childishly easy, according to the published chatlog of a conversation Manning had with a fellow-hacker. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He said that he “had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months”.
Manning told Adrian Lamo, who subsequently denounced him to the authorities: “Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public … Everywhere there’s a US post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format … It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”
He added: “Information should be free. It belongs in the public domain.”
Manning, according to the chatlogs, says he uploaded the copies to WikiLeaks, the “freedom of information activists” as he called them, led by Australian former hacker Julian Assange.