Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greenwald's Spotlight on Lamo and Manning a Much Needed Reality Check

Logo used by WikileaksImage via Wikipedia

There has been a great deal of coverage regarding the detention of Bradley Manning for his alleged leak of video and documents to the Wikileaks website, much of it centered around Julian Assange and the Wikileaks website.  While I am a fan of Wikileaks and Assange's firm devotion to his convictions, there has not been enough of a spotlight focused on the questionable actions and ethics of the individual who ratted Manning out.  However, Glen Greenwald at Salon is exploring the issue very thoroughly and has written a story that provides some insight into the Lamo - Paulson connection and the somewhat twisted history they share and the less than pure motives that seem to lurk behind Lamo's actions (see the story here).
Greenwald asks some very interesting questions and then does a very thorough analysis of the issues raised.  Admittedly, I agree with him very strongly that sites like Wikileaks perform an extremely valuable service, and the sense that I get from this article is that Lamo's ratting out of Manning seems to be motivated by little more than an extreme case of narcissism.  Lamo is the type of attention seeker that craves notoriety from as wide an audience as possible, and Poulson has acted as his blowhorn for years.  Turning on Manning was simply his latest attempt to garner said attention, most likely believing that his name would be forever etched into the annals of history as a the great American Hero who risked all to save his beloved countrymen while Poulson got the inside track... the all important scoop.
One of the most interesting issues raised in the article to my mind, besides the Lamo-Paulson vanity connection, are the statements by Manning in Lamo's logs that illustrate his belief that he was acting as a whistleblower and not as a "spy" or "traitor" as Lamo has repeatedly labeled him.  Statements such as the following serve to highlight Manning's noble intentions and his desire to provide people with the truth of what he saw as criminal and immoral behavior on the part of his government in the Middle East.  He believed that by leaking these documents and videos, the truth would be "out in the open… it should be a public good." 
Lamo: what's your endgame plan, then?. . .

Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] - and god knows what happens now - hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms - if not, than [sic] we're doomed - as a species - i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens - the reaction to the video gave me immense hope. . . - i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
To me, Manning's intentions are to inform the public so that they can exercise their democratic freedoms in an educated manner.  This is the very soul of democracy and reaches to heart of what Wikileaks represents and what whistleblowers are motivated by.  It is precisely because ill intentioned individuals, organizations and government bodies seek to silence such people that Wikileaks exists, and thank God for that.  We cannot make informed democratic decisions unless we know the truth behind the "facts." This is why freedoms such as those of speech, association and the media were encoded into the constitutions of democracies everywhere, and it is scary that so much circumvention of these freedoms has taken place that whistleblowers and Wikileaks need to exist at all.
At any rate, Glen Greenwald's story is an excellent examination of this issue, and I strongly recommend it for anyone wanting to understand the issue from a different angle or anyone already following the same chain of logic.  It is well researched and extremely informative.
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