A 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist in Iraq who claims to be the whistleblower behind a notorious 2007 video of an Apache helicopter attack in Bagdad that killed two Reuters photographers was arrested and is being detained in Kuwait.
Specialist Bradley Manning was turned in by a hacker, Adrian Lamo, whom Manning befriended online after Wired ran a profile of Lamo. Wired’s Threat Level blog first reported the news on June 6. The Department of Defense announced the arrest on Monday.
The video was leaked to Wikileaks.org, a repository for classified government documents run by former hacker Julian Assange. Wikileaks posted the video last April after a months-long effort to decrypt it. The site has also published e-mails from Sarah Palin’s personal account, protocols at Guantanamo Bay and the so-called “Climate-gate” memos.
The video shows an Apache helicopter attack on several people in a Bagdad neighborhood. Reuters had petitioned the government to release the video via a Freedom of Information Act request - to no avail. Wikileaks posted the edited video - complete with subtitles for the rather callous language used by the Apache gunners - with the title “Collateral Murder.” The non-profit organization, which uses its own complicated encryption system and multiple server hosts to protect its sources, sustains itself on donations. It used the publicity surrounding the video to raise money for the site.
Manning told Lamo that he was the source of an Army document that looked into the possible threat posed by Wikileaks, which the site posted last March. He also said that he had given the site 260,000 classified diplomatic cables that Manning described as “almost criminal political back dealings.”
In an interview with Wired, Lamo said he felt compelled to turn Manning in because his leaking was potentially dangerous.
“I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger,” Lamo said. “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.”