I’m sure you’re all aware of the Wikileaks kerfluffle. The official
story is that this was all the work of a 23 year-old Okie cybergeek:
Bradley Manning: The prime suspect of giving files to WikiLeaks
Bradley Manning, 23, enlisted in the US Army in 2007 and became an intelligence analyst in Iraq, sifting through classified information at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad.
As he spent his time looking through classified information for up to 14 hours a day, he is believed to have become increasingly disillusioned by US foreign policy, once describing “military intelligence” as an “oxymoron”. Manning is said to have tracked down and communicated with Adrian Lamo, a well known former computer hacker in the US, who he thought would help him get information out.
But Lamo later alerted the US authorities and provided them with a series of online exchanges between the two men.
Manning was alleged to have told Lamo that he had found “incredible, awful things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, DC”. He was also said to have boasted that he had used blank CDs to download classified information while pretending to be listening to Lady Gaga.
Manning’s clearance would have given him access to the Secret internet Protocol Router Network used by US military personnel, civilian employees and private contractors. However, investigators are trying to establish whether he had help, both from inside the military, and from civilians.
I was a nerd but not a geek. I still can’t figure out how to set the timer on my VCR. But apparently I carry the gene because my oldest son is a super-geek. When he was in junior high his hero was Kevin Mitnick. (if you don’t get the reference ask Dandy Tiger)
I was in the army though, so I do know a little about that organization. The Army does not give PFC’s the keys to the officer’s latrine unless they want the toilets cleaned.
Private First Class is the third-lowest rank there is. Most soldiers make PFC after one year in service. (When I was in some people actually started out at that rank, such as graduates of high school Junior ROTC.) If you stay out of trouble a promotion to Spec 4/E-4 is pretty much automatic after two years.
“Intelligence analyst” with a Top Secret clearance isn’t exactly a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for high school drop-outs. The geekier your MOS, the faster you’ll make rank. A G-2 tech job is about as cushy as it gets in the Army. They stay “in the rear with the gear.”
If Manning was in the service working at Divisional G-2 for three years and is only a PFC then he’s had some troubles. It couldn’t have been anything serious enough to get him kicked out but he must have been reduced in rank due to an Article 15 at least once.
Once upon a time the Internet was like the wild west but instead of gunfighters it was ruled by hackers. Those days are long gone. Those 15 year-old hackers from 20 years ago are now highly paid 35 year-old cyber-security consultants
The idea that a PFC stationed in an overseas hot zone could not only access but download about a million documents without anyone noticing what he was doing doesn’t past the laugh test. Bradley Manning is not David Lightman and Siprnet isn’t WOPR.
To access classified government information a person needs two things – the proper clearance and the “need to know.” The government has security programs in place so that if someone tries to go exploring in cyber-places they don’t belong their activities will see off alarms.
I know this is true because I know an IRS employee who got in big trouble when he decided to take a peek at the tax returns of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. If they have these programs for the IRS they have ’em for the military and the State Department too.
We’re not talking about somebody accidentally stumbling across a couple of documents. We’re talking about somebody spending hours and hours searching through classified archives and downloading them.
If it were that easy to do then the rest of the world would have already done it.
Why is this important? Anglachel:
This much information being released does not happen without some serious coordination and power. This wasn’t done by a few outraged whistle-blowers.
I don’t know who was behind this mess but it wasn’t somebody at the bottom of the food chain. Spys like Robert Hanssen
and John Walker
spent decades getting into positions of trust and they couldn’t have pulled this off.
The person or persons responsible for this are or were occupying high positions in our government. Some people suspect Dick Cheney. I’m not suggesting he had anything to do with this but he probably knows the people who did.
Last but not least, I find this piece of information offensive:
After arriving in Iraq the young soldier, who is gay, complained of feeling socially “isolated” in the military.
What does Manning’s sexual orientation have to do with anything? One of the bullshit arguments against allowing gays to serve in the military and other branches of government was that they could be blackmailed into betraying our nation by a foreign power threatening to expose them.
But that argument only works if being gay is a crime or something to be ashamed of. Throwing that information out there like that reminds me of what the Navy did to Clayton Hartwig.
Filed under: General, Wikileaks | Tagged: WikiLeaks | 99 Comments »