The Court Transcript of Everything Bradley Manning Told Adrian Lamo Is Heartbreaking

Image: Courtroom Sketch, US Military

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 crowd-funded 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 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.

David Coombs [Q]: ... after contacting law enforcement you continued to chat with PFC Manning?

Adrian Lamo [A]: That is correct.

Q. And based on your conversations you determined that PFC Manning was young?

A. Yes.

Q. You believed he was ideologically motivated?

A. That was my speculation, yes.

Q. You also saw him as well intentioned?

A. From his point of view, yes.

Q. From your point of view you saw him as well intentioned?

A. Subjectively, yes.

Q. You also saw him as idealistic?

A. Yes, I did.

Adrian Lamo. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lamo-Mitnick-Poulsen.png

Q. Now you testified on direct that PFC Manning identified himself in the chat conversations.

A. Correct.

Q. And you testified on direct that he said Bradley Manning?

A. Yes.

Q. Now he told you during your conversation that he wanted to disclose this information for public good?

A. That was an interpretation, yes.

Q. Based on your conversation you saw something very familiar about that?

A. Yes.

Q. You saw a young 22 year old with good intentions, much like you were?

A. That was correct.

Q. You did not know PFC Manning, correct?

A. Not personally, no.

Q. The two of your never met in person?

A. No.

Q. And, in fact, you were a supporter of LBGT, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. He said to you, he thought he would reach out to somebody like you who would possibly understand?

A. Yes.

Q. During this initial chat conversation he told you about his life and his upbringing?

A. In some amount of detail, yes.

Q. He told you that he was being challenged due to a gender identity issue?

A. Yes.

Q. He also told you that he had been questioning his gender for years, but started to come to terms with that with his gender during the deployment?

A. Yes.

Q. He told you he believed he had made a huge mess?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. And he confessed that he was emotionally fractured?

A. Yes.

Q. He said he was talking to you as somebody that needed moral and emotional support?

A. Yes.

Q . At this point he said he was trying not to end up killing himself?

A. That is also correct.

Q. He told you that he was feeling desperate and isolated?

A. Yes.

Q. He described himself as a broken soul?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. He said his life was falling apart and he didn't have anyone to talk to?

A. Yes, he did.

Image: Flickr

Q. And he said he was honestly scared?

A. He also said that.

Q. He told you that he had no one he could trust?

A. Correct.

Q. And he told you he needed a lot of help?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. He ended up apologizing to you on several occasions for pouring out his heart to you since you were total strangers?

A. Correct.

Q. Now at one point he asked you if you had access to classified networks and so on, incredible things, awful things, things that belonged to the public domain, not on some servers dark room in Washington, D.C. What would you do? Do you recall him asking you that question?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. He told you he thought that the information that he had would have impact on entire world?

A. That is also correct.

Q. He said the information would disclose casualty figures in Iraq?

A. Yes.

Q. He believed the State Department, First World Countries exploited the Third World Countries?

A. He made that representation, yes.

Q. And he told you that the cables detailed what was criminal political fact dealings?

A. Yes.

Q. He believed that everywhere there was a U.S. post there was a diplomatic scandal?

A. That he did.

Q. He told you that he believed it was important that the information got out?

A. Correct.

Q. He thought that if the information got out, it might actually change something?

A. Yes.

Q. He told you he did not believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore?

A. Yes.

Q. He only believed in a plethora of state acting in self-interest?

A. Correct.

Q. He told you he thought he was maybe too idealistic?

A. Correct.

Q. He told you that he was always a type of person that tried to investigate to find out the truth?

A. Something I could appreciate, yes.

Image: PBS

Q. And based upon what he saw, he told you he could not let information just stay inside?

A. Yes.

Q. He said he could not separate himself from others?

A. Correct.

Q. He felt connected to everybody?

A. Yes.

Q. Even told you it felt like we were all distant family?

A. Engagement.

Q. And he said he cared?

A. Yes.

Q. He told you that he thought he would keep track -- keep track of people that his job impacted?

A. Correct.

Q. And he wanted to make sure that everybody was okay?

A. Yes.

Q. He told you that the way he separated himself from other analysts was, he cared about people?

A. He said that, yes.

Q. PFC Manning told you he followed humanist values?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. He said he had dogs tags saying "humanist" on it?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know what it means to be a humanist?

A. From my understanding the importance of human life and human beings and has a structure of morality.

Q. He told you that he was bothered that nobody seemed to care?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. He said he thought apathy was far worse than active participation?

A. Yes.

Q. He also told you that he was maybe too traumatized to really care about the consequences to him?

A. Yes.

Q. He told you that he wasn't brave. He was weak?

A. Yes.

Q. He said he was not so much scared of getting caught and facing consequences as he was of being misunderstood?

A. Yes.

Q. At one point you asked him what his end game was, correct?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And he told you, hopefully worldwide discussions, debates and reforms?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. And he said he wanted people to see the truth?

A. Correct.

Q. He said without information you can't make informed decision as a whole?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. And he told you to, he was hoping that people would actually change if they saw the information?

A. Correct.

Q. He also told you that he recognized that he may be just young, naive and stupid?

A. Yes.

Q. And at one point you asked him why he didn't just sell the information to Russia or China?

A. Correct.

Q. And he told you that the information belonged in the public domain?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. He believed that information was in the public domain and should be for the public good?

A. Yes.

Q. At one point he told you that his belief or his feelings were that he wanted to eventually go into politics?

A. Yes.

Q. And at the time he was thinking that humanity could accomplish a lot, if smart people with ideas cooperated with each other?

A. Correct.

Q. At anytime did he say he had no loyalty to America?

A. Not in those words, no.

Q. At anytime did he say the American flag didn't mean anything to him?

A. No.

Q. At anytime did he say he wanted to help the enemy?

A. Not in those words, no.

Topics: bradley manning, WikiLeaks, military

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