In March of 2010, WikiLeaks was just weeks away from bursting onto the world stage with the first of its major leaks from intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning: the “Collateral Murder” video showing a 2007 Apache helicopter attack that killed civilians and wounded children. Julian Assange, in Iceland, was in contact with Manning in online chats, getting more leaks and keeping his source updated on WikiLeaks’ progress.
Now we get to see how things worked between Assange and Manning.
Just before Thanksgiving, the Army posted to its FOIA reading room a large tranche of documents from Chelsea Manning’s court martial, including an 88 megabyte zip file containing the prosecution’s unclassified exhibits in the case. Buried in that file is Exhibit 123, a log of a chat that an Army forensics expert recovered from the unallocated space on Manning’s computer. The chat is between Manning (“dawgnetwork”) and a WikiLeaks contact the Army says is Julian Assange.
The highlights of the conversation — from a prosecutor’s perspective — have already aired in Manning’s court martial and earlier hearings: in particular, Assange’s offhand agreement to try and crack an Army desktop password for Manning was offered as evidence that WikiLeaks was more like an intelligence agency than a publisher. But the full transcript is fascinating in its own right for what it shows of the give-and-take between Assange and his key source at this historically important moment in the WikiLeaks story. An excerpt:
(2010-03-17 22:50:55) pressassociation: saw the film today
(2010-03-17 22:51:04) pressassociation: it’s looking great
(2010-03-17 22:51:31) dawgnetwork: which film?
(2010-03-17 22:51:50) pressassociation: projectb
(2010-03-17 22:51:58) pressassociation: the massacre
(2010-03-17 22:52:01) dawgnetwork: gotchya
(2010-03-17 22:52:32) dawgnetwork: uploaded file
(2010-03-17 22:53:01) dawgnetwork: marked as requested
(2010-03-17 22:53:11) pressassociation: thanks
(2010-03-17 22:53:18) dawgnetwork: n/p
(2010-03-17 22:53:20) pressassociation: you’re great
(2010-03-17 22:54:03) pressassociation: is there some way i can get a cryptophone to you?
(2010-03-17 22:54:14) dawgnetwork: not at this time
(2010-03-17 22:54:40) pressassociation: actually …
(2010-03-17 22:54:47) pressassociation: probably best if you just order one?
(2010-03-17 22:54:57) pressassociation: or rather some friend
(2010-03-17 22:55:14) pressassociation: bit pricy though
(2010-03-17 22:55:26) pressassociation: actually never mind
(2010-03-17 22:55:29) dawgnetwork: yes, i dont have access as present
(2010-03-17 22:55:38) pressassociation: these things are good for urgent contact, but it’s safer to avoid due to location tracking possibilities
(2010-03-17 22:56:35) dawgnetwork: i know that very well
(2010-03-17 22:56:47) pressassociation: although there is a satphone module
(2010-03-17 22:56:56) dawgnetwork: forget the idea for now
(2010-03-17 22:57:21) pressassociation: yes. you just contact us
(2010-03-17 22:57:45) pressassociation: but don’t disappear without saying why for an extended period or I’ll get worried
(2010-03-17 22:58:03) dawgnetwork: i wont
(2010-03-17 22:58:16) dawgnetwork: you’ll know if something’s wrong
(2010-03-17 22:58:39) pressassociation: ok
(2010-03-17 22:58:57) pressassociation: you can just tell me “all the ships came in”
(2010-03-17 22:59:09) pressassociation: via email or any other mechanism
(2010-03-17 22:59:15) dawgnetwork: >nod<
The newly-released documents have disappeared from the Army’s website for some reason. But the full transcript is below.