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By Michael J. Smith on Friday August 6, 2010 11:20 AM

Shown above is one Adrian Lamo -- yes, that's his real name, apparently. Lamo is the police informer who says that he turned in Bradley Manning, alleged source of the Wikileaks Afghanistan material.

Lamo appears in the clip below, taking some very slow pitches from the aggressively, pugnaciously reactionary BBC, and swinging groggily at each one about five seconds after it passes over the plate. (There's a few seconds of setup; wait for it.)

Droll, eh?

There is much rich material here, as well as a few puzzling questions.

Lamo works with a maildrop "organization" called Project Vigilant, headed by one Chet Uber. (Yes, that's really his name too. Dickens couldn't do better.) Project Vigilant's seal tickles me:

(I particularly like the garbled motto.)

Project Vigilant claims to be a mighty network of hundreds of mad-skill'd volunteer super-"hackers", collecting mountains of information from your friendly local ISPs, discovering threats to "national security", and generally acting as a sort of pasty-faced auxiliary police force.

In fact it appears to consist of a handful of cop buffs and self-promoters like Lamo, who has a thorougly bad reputation in the esoteric world of infosec and its penumbra of script kiddies.

(One mailing-list correspondent of mine, a familiar of this milieu, writes: "Lamo can eat a bag of dicks. I hate that douche.")

The big question, of course, is why Manning would have taken an obvious creep like Lamo into his confidence -- which is the story Lamo tells. The evidence offered to back up this claim are a few short decontextualized snippets extracted from emails and AOL chats between the two. (Apparently Wired magazine has the full texts but won't make them public.)

I suppose it all could have happened just as the public story so far suggests: all this material was readily available to a relatively low-level staff guy like Manning(*); he idealistically gave it to Wikileaks; and then was naif enough to confide in Lamo. But it will be interesting to see how the story develops.

The other interesting thing, to me, is the existence of people like Uber and Lamo in the first place. Apparently there's so much runoff into the social waters from the activities of the cops, the spies, the snoopers and surveillers, that it's nourished a malodorous algal bloom of hangers-on, informers, unofficial volunteer secret-police trolls, parasitic entrepreneurs hoping for spilled swill from the national-security trough, and a richly repellent inventory of other loathesome creepy-crawlies.

Welcome to Obama's America, a land where everyone not a screw is either an inmate or a stoolie.


(*) This isn't as improbable as it may sound. Lots of large bureaucratic organizations -- I have worked for a few -- tend to think of information security in terms of an Iron Wall between inside and outside. On the supposedly secure "inside", access and trust are far too widely distributed. I've never been in the military, but it would surprise me if this mind-set didn't exist there, perhaps even more strongly than in the corporate world.

Comments (3)


My predecessor in a Navy headquarters job in London was very gung ho about his work. He wanted to work after hours so he walked out with his briefcase stuffed with 'Secret' documents, got distracted by something on the tube ride home and forgot his luggage. It being England in the 1970's, a good soul examined the neglected object and saw the 'Secret' markings and turned it in the same evening to the authorities. The Navy allowed this young officer to depart the service under the "it's not polite to notice the flatulence" rule. The material only dealt with nuclear release authentication. Ha, ha, ha.

I imagine that things have tightened up a bit since those days of splendor... just 40 years ago! However the work of espionage art in an age of mechanical reproduction has also loosened up a bit as the computer processors have become ever faster and the communication bandwidth has exploded. How long does it take to send 90000 ASCII coded documents? 1 sec?



thrusting el dopo aside
father S

just exactly how FREE
does that....that..
prim seersuckered lass
information to get ???

i have a...friend...
who'd kinda like to know


I should note, by the way, that the only source for these supposed chat logs between Lamo and Manning is... Lamo. Such logs are childishly easy to alter or, for that matter, to forge out of whole cloth. Wired magazine's embeddedness with characters like Lamo and Uber is one of the creepiest aspects of the whole story.

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