4:41 p.m. August 16, 2013

Bradley Manning: Pro-NSA Hero?

I was taking a closer look at the Manning-Lamo chat logs and found something very unexpected: Bradley Manning seems to be weirdly ambivalent about illegal NSA spying, even supporting the practice because it protected America.

For example: Manning told FBI ICQ snitch Lamo that he wasn't "all that paranoid about NSA" and that most of what the NSA gets is "noise." Manning also defended the NSA, saying he "can see both sides of the whole illegal wiretap debate" because "it IS awfully useful in catching bad people" and that it's "an inevitability"…

Here's the relevant portion of the chat (parts bolded for emphasis):

(7:39:14 AM) [email protected]: Too bad Philip Agee died. You and he would have fun conversations.

(7:39:43 AM) bradass87: well, im not an expert in SIGINT… im just familiar

(7:40:06 AM) [email protected]: Neither was he. He just didn’t like what he saw in the course of his work.

(7:40:11 AM) [email protected]: And wrote about it.

(7:40:43 AM) [email protected]: “Inside the Company” – followed by “On the Run”, predictably.

(7:40:56 AM) bradass87: i know that approximately 85-90% of global transmissions are sifted through by NSA… but vast majority is noise… so its getting harder and harder for them to track anything down…

(7:41:31 AM) bradass87: its like finding a needle in a haystack…

(7:42:11 AM) [email protected]: Especially the way I speak Spanish. Rapidfire, few pauses between words :p

(7:43:11 AM) bradass87: heh

(7:43:41 AM) [email protected]: Colombians in Colombia think all Americans are CIA. It’s kind of funny.

(7:44:01 AM) bradass87: but once a single piece of information is found… then the databases can be sifted and sifted and sifted some more, for refinement, so other intelligence functions can get in the act

(7:44:09 AM) [email protected]: Fortunately, there are plenty of Colombians with my skin tone.

(7:44:20 AM) bradass87: >nod<

(7:45:52 AM) bradass87: im not all that paranoid about NSA / SIGINT services… you just have to be OPSEC savvy, and you’re all good

(7:46:27 AM) bradass87: and FISA actually does come in very handy

(7:46:46 AM) bradass87: though, its frequently overlooked

(7:47:36 AM) bradass87: i.e.: they’ll collect signal information, to refine other intel sources and try to collect evidence…

(7:47:57 AM) bradass87: erasing the signal data

(7:48:11 AM) bradass87: since its not legally “evidence”

(7:49:38 AM) bradass87: and yes, illegal wiretaps are used in coordination between NSA and FBI… though its not seen as illegal, because often the data is only used to give leads

(7:49:42 AM) bradass87: and not evidence

(7:50:49 AM) [email protected]: *nod*

(7:50:52 AM) bradass87: one of the reasons assange uses his rubberhose plausibly deniable whole-disk encryption setup

(7:51:46 AM) bradass87: i can see both sides of the whole illegal wiretap debate

(7:52:17 AM) bradass87: it IS awfully useful in catching bad people… but innocent privacy IS violated…


(7:52:37 AM) bradass87: but everyone does it now…

Back channel chatter

  1. Wow. I admit I didn't see that one coming.

    Meanwhile, Assange iscovering himself in glory by gushing about Ron and Rand Paul, and declaring that libertarian Republicans are "the only hope" for America.

  2. Yeah—and the guy who fed Assange questions about Ron/Rand Paul is from student outfit called Campus Reform, "a project of the Leadership Institute," which also heavily promoted the event.

    What is the Leadership Institute?

    As we explained in our SHAME profile on Radley Balko:

    The Leadership Institute is a Republican Party recruitment organization that describes itself as “the premier training ground for tomorrow’s conservative leaders,” whose goal is “to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative public policy leaders” through its numerous “journalism seminars.” The Leadership Institute’s alumni include Karl Rove, Rove’s fake White House press pool “reporter” Jeff Gannon, convicted criminal James O’Keefe, and major GOP figures including Grover Norquist, Christian Right leader Ralph Reed, and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    A Los Angeles Times article on a Leadership Institute-sponsored journalism seminar at a North Carolina college said it “bore little resemblance to a traditional journalism class” teaching students “how to start their own conservative newspapers and opinion journals. And how to pick fights with lefty bogeymen on the faculty and in student government.” The LI seminar grads’ ultimate goal: “to alter the basic makeup of the nation’s professional news outlets.”

    Go Assange! Information wants to be free (and funded by oligarchs)!

    Update: original version of this comment repeated a HuffPost claim that the event was co-hosted by Campus Reform. Apparently not so. A Campus Reform rep was a part of the event because he was one of five people whose questions were selected by internet voters.