Incident of the Week: Army Intelligence Analyst In Custody After Claiming that He Leaked Thousands of Classified Documents

22-year old U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning is reportedly in custody in Kuwait after claiming that he sent 260,000 classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. According to WIRED, Manning, who served at Forward Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad in Iraq, made the admission after reaching out to former hacker Adrian Lamo in a series of Internet chats beginning on May 21st.  Manning ominously began the conversation with the following:

(1:41:12 PM) Bradley Manning: hi
(1:44:04 PM) Manning: how are you?
(1:47:01 PM) Manning: im an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern baghdad, pending discharge for “adjustment disorder” [. . .]
(1:56:24 PM) Manning: im sure you’re pretty busy…
(1:58:31 PM) Manning: if you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?

[Read more of Manning’s discussions with Lamo at WIRED.]
Lamo continued Internet discussions with Manning after tipping off the FBI and Army CID of the potential leak.  “I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger,” Lamo told reporters at WIRED. “He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air.”
The turning point for Manning apparently came when he was ordered to investigate the arrest of Iraqis for the distribution of “anti Iraq” literature by the Iraqi Federal Police.  When Manning discovered that the literature in question was a “benign political critique” of Iraq Prime Minister Al-Maliki, Manning reported the incident to Army superiors who told Manning “to shut up.”  Manning apparently then began to leak classified materials in an effort to “do the right thing.”  The materials Manning leaked apparently included a video of a 2007 U.S. Army helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a number of civilians.

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