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The court transcript of everything Bradley Manning told Adrian Lamo is heartbreaking

The recollections of Adrian Lamo, as transcribed by a crowdfunded activist stenographer, reveal that fragile and naive state Manning was in at the time of his leaks. 


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Posted on Jun 7, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 1:58 pm CDT

Earlier this week, Adrian Lamo took the stand to testify in Bradley Manning’s court martial. Lamo, of course, is the attention-seeking ex-hacker who turned Manning over to the feds. In the most widely repeated account of the preceding events, Manning had willingly reached out to Lamo, perhaps after reading a Wired article documenting the hacker’s struggles with depression. 

If Lamo’s testimony and the chat logs of their conversations are to be believed, then Manning confided not just details about the cables he’d passed to WikiLeaks but of his troubled personal life as well. Lamo convinced Manning that he would keep their conversations confidential, and even told him that he was a “journalist” and could protect his identity as a source in the event.

But Lamo was intending to act as an informant the entire time, and promptly turned all of their correspondence over to the feds. They had never met in person, and, on Tuesday, they came face to face for the first time.

Thanks to a crowdfunded activist stenographer, we’ve got the transcript. And it is heartbreaking. Manning’s defense lawyer David Coombs takes the opportunity to recount the content of their online chats, hammering home how naive, fragile, and nobly intentioned Manning was at the time. If you’ve already read the heavily edited chats between the two that Wired published, you might have a small notion of what you’re in for. But not fully.

This is as pure a portrait of Manning’s character at the time of the leaks as you’re likely to see—and Lamo has no choice but to agree that it’s accurate. The climax comes at the end, when Lamo himself, the informant, acknowledges that Manning had displayed no intent to aid the enemy, and instead fully believed that he was acting in the public interest.

What follows is a transcript of Coombs’ cross-examination of Lamo, lightly edited for clarity, as recorded by the diligent, fleet-fingered folks at the Free Press Foundation (no audio or video recorders are allowed in the trial). It is well worth reading in full.

Read the full story on Motherboard. 

By Brian Merchant | Courtroom Sketch via U.S. Military

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*First Published: Jun 7, 2013, 7:00 am CDT