Green Room

Has the Manning-Asange connection been established?

posted at 2:49 pm on December 20, 2011 by

After a long period with very little activity, it’s certainly been a busy week in the media for accused traitor Bradley Manning. But today’s news takes the unfolding story in a different direction, namely heading back to our old friend Julian Assange. For those who may have forgotten, there were a lot of questions flying when Manning’s allegedly ill gotten documentation began showing up at Wikileaks, with a particular focus on whether or not the United States could go after Assange himself. Unfortunately, up until the beginning of this year, United States investigators had been saying that they had never been able to establish a direct link between the two.

The theory behind it was that if Manning had passed the state secrets off to some third party – not a military member – who then turned around and made them available to Wikileaks, or if Manning had simply uploaded them himself, then Assange was essentially just acting as a journalist after “finding” the documents on his server and was untouchable for the most part. The assumed third party in question who either assisted Manning, or at least had spoken to him about it, had been previously taken to be computer hacker Adrian Lamo, who has since been institutionalized. But all that may be about to change. As we mentioned yesterday, Army data specialists have been prowling through Manning’s computer and extra hard drives for some time. And guess what they found now?

Jolt in WikiLeaks Case: Feds Found Manning-Assange Chat Logs on Laptop

A government digital forensic expert examing the computer of accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning retrieved communications between Manning and an online chat user identified on Manning’s computer as “Julian Assange,” the name of the founder of the secret-spilling site that published hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables…

Mark Johnson, a digital forensics contractor for ManTech International who works for the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit, examined an image of Manning’s personal MacBook Pro and said he found 14 to 15 pages of chats in unallocated space on the hard drive that were discussions of unspecified government info between Manning and a person believed to be Assange, which specifically made a reference to re-sending info.

While the chat logs were encrypted, Johnson said that he was able to retrieve the MacBook’s login password from the hard drive and found that the same password “TWink1492!!” was also used as the encryption key.

Assange’s name was attached to a chat handle “dawgnetwork@jabber.ccc.de” listed in Manning’s buddy list in the Adium chat program on his computer. That Jabber address uses the same domain name allegedly mentioned by Manning in the chat logs that ex-hacker Adrian Lamo gave to the FBI and to Wired.com last year. In that earlier chat log, Manning was making reference to a domain that Assange was known to use.

In Manning’s buddy list there was also a second handle, “pressassociation@jabber.ccc.de,” which had two aliases associated with it: Julian Assange and Nathaniel Frank. CCC.de in the domain refers to the Chaos Computer Club, a hacker club in Germany that operates the Jabber server.

I don’t know if this will turn out to be enough of a “smoking gun” to let slip the hounds on Assange, and we’ve been burned too many times for me to get my hopes up now. But the initial indications certainly make it look suspicious. If there are records in there of Assange directly following up with Manning and asking him to “re-send” some of the classified material, we’re moving into a whole new ball game. In that case, he’s no longer acting as a journalist at all, but as the recipient of state secrets.

Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen. What looked like a fairly open and shut court martial for Aiding the Enemy in a time of war may have just gotten decidedly more interesting.

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Comments

What does Assange’s status as a “journalist” have to do with deciding whether he is guilty of espionage or not? Either he’s guilty of trafficking in classified data or he’s not. The evidence looks pretty damning to me.

gryphon202 on December 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

What does Assange’s status as a “journalist” have to do with deciding whether he is guilty of espionage or not? Either he’s guilty of trafficking in classified data or he’s not. The evidence looks pretty damning to me.

gryphon202 on December 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

If AssMange were acting as a “journalist,” the theory is that he did not necessarily solicit the information—he just made use of the information a source provided to him. Soliciting the information crosses the line into espionage.

Sekhmet on December 20, 2011 at 4:39 PM

If AssMange were acting as a “journalist,” the theory is that he did not necessarily solicit the information—he just made use of the information a source provided to him. Soliciting the information crosses the line into espionage.

Sekhmet on December 20, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I thought providing the information to a third party is what makes it espionage…right? You can’t tell me that the New York Times reporters didn’t solicit the classified information they have published in their papers over the years. This stinks of selective enforcement.

gryphon202 on December 20, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Prepare for Liberal pretzel twisting of facts and laws beyond all recognition in 3, 2, 1…

HopeHeFails on December 20, 2011 at 10:32 PM

The assumed third party in question who either assisted Manning, or at least had spoken to him about it, had been previously taken to be computer hacker Adrian Lamo, who has since been institutionalized.

Not quite. Lamo was misdiagnosed as suffering from depression and was over medicating himself. In April 2010, his parents called the cops and he was committed for 9 days, given a new diagnosis of Aspergers, new medication, and released. After chatting with Manning a couple of times, Lamo went to the FBI. This is the first I heard that anyone thought he helped Manning upload the classified info. Lamo did the right thing and has been attacked by his hacker buddies and the left for it.

Blake on December 21, 2011 at 8:59 AM

We can’t even get the Brits to extradite McKinnon. I don’t see how we could ever get them or Sweden or Australia to extradite him to the US. Our so called allies are pains in the ass.

Blake on December 21, 2011 at 9:16 AM

extradite Assange to the US…

Blake on December 21, 2011 at 9:17 AM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Ed Morrissey on December 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM