Summary of testimony of Adrian Lamo at the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning on June 4, 2013

Reporter’s note: I attended the first week (June 3 – 5, 2013) of the trial of United States v. PFC Bradley Manning in Fort Meade, Maryland. I observed the hearing from a closed-circuit broadcast in an overflow trailer near the courthouse on Monday, June 3, and attended the hearing inside the court room on Tuesday, June 4 and Wednesday, June 5. I am making available my notes (with some omissions and minimal edits) and summaries of the court martial proceedings due to the limited public access to official transcripts and court documents in the Manning case.

Summary of the testimony of Adrian Lamo at the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, Maryland on Tuesday, June 4, 2013:

Adrian Lamo is a threat analyst from the Sacramento, Calif. area. Lamo contacted law enforcement officials after receiving online messages from Manning in late May of 2010.

Direct examination by prosecution attorney Maj. Ashden Fein:

– Lamo is from the Sacramento area of California. He has15 years of extensive experience testing security of computer networks. He was arrested for the 2002 hacking of the New York Times, Microsoft, and Lexis-Nexis computer networks. Arrested in 2003; convicted (pleaded guilty) in 2004.

– Lamo said he knew PFC Manning from a series of conversations online in May of 2010. Lamo said he first received a two-way encrypted email from Manning’s email address [] on or about May 20, 2010. However, Lamo was not able to read the first email because Manning provided him with an incorrect cipher key.

– Lamo ignored the first email but after receiving several more messages from Manning, Lamo responded and suggested they use AOL messenger/XChat. They ended up communicating via a third-party instant message program called Pidgin, which allowed for encrypted chats. Lamo told prosecutors that Manning’s chat name was “bradass87”.

– The chats between Lamo and Manning took place between May 20, 2010 and May 26, 2010.

– Lamo also suggested that Manning connect with him on Facebook, which was how he “ascertained that the name of the user was the same name as the sender of the email I previously received.”

– Lamo said he used only two computers to chat with Manning: an Lenovo Think Pad and an HP netbook. Lamo said no one else had access to those two computers because of the encryption and password countermeasures. In addition, he said the computers were generally on his person, even when he went out to a Starbucks.

– Lamo said their chats were recorded because he did not change Pidgin’s default setting, which automatically records all chats. “It’s not evident to the user that feature is enabled. I would have to disabled it.”

– Lamo said he met with U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Special Agent Tony Edwards [sp?] on June 12, 2010. The agent collected a hard drive from the Lenovo Think Pad and the HP Mini netbook.

– Lamo said he had made a copy of the Pidgin chat logs and shared the edited logs with Ellen Nakashima, a national security reporter for the Washington Post, and Kevin Poulsen, an editor at But the original Pidgin chat logs were not altered in any way.

– Lamo admitted that he has been diagnosed a variety of mental health conditions, including “Asperger syndrome, autism, major depression, and generalized anxiety”, and that he has in the past use those prescription medications in such a way that affected his memory. However, Lamo said that his use of prescription medications in 2010 – at the time when he chatted with Manning – did not affect his memory.

Cross-examination by defense attorney David Coombs:

– Lamo admitted that he committed a “string of offenses” [hacking attacks] against several large companies in the early 2000s, pleaded guilty to computer fraud in 2004, and received a 6-month house arrest and 2-years probation sentence. He was 22-years-old at the time – the same age as Manning in 2010 when he first approached Lamo. At the time, Lamo had never met Manning in person nor did he know Manning personally.

– Lamo confirmed that he and Manning began chatting online on or about May 20, 2010 and that he contacted law enforcement the day after his initial chat with Manning. Lamo contacted law enforcement because he was concerned about the type of information that Manning had shared with him as well as being concerned for Manning’s life. Lamo confirmed that he continued to chat with Manning even after he had contacted law enforcement.

– Lamo agreed with Coombs that he found Manning to be “young”, “ideologically motivated”, “idealistic”, “well-intentioned”. Lamo confirmed that Manning had told him during their chats that “he wanted to disclose this information for public good”.

– In explaining why Manning reached out to Lamo, Coombs noted that prior to approaching Lamo, Manning had done some research and found out that Lamo was a supporter of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered], a threat analyst, and gray hacker who had donated to WikiLeaks.

– Lamo confirmed that Manning reached out to him. Manning identified himself as an intelligence analyst. Manning told Lamo that “he thought he would reach out to somebody like you [Lamo] who would possibly understand”.

– Lamo confirmed that Manning shared details about his life and upbringing and his challenges in coming to terms with his gender identity. Manning said “he believed he had made a huge mess” and that “he was emotionally fractured”.

– Coombs noted that Manning was talking to Lamo as “somebody that needed moral and emotional support” and that Manning said “he was trying not to end up killing himself” because “he was feeling desperate and isolated”, describing himself as a broke “soul”. Manning told Lamo that “his life as falling apart and he didn’t have anyone to talk to” and that “he was honestly scared”, “he had no one he could trust”, and “he needed a lot of help”.

– Coombs said that Manning “ended up apologizing to you [Lamo] on several occasions for pouring out his heart to you [Lamo] since you were total strangers”.

– Coombs said that Manning asked Lamo “If you had access to classified networks and…incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain, not on servers in a dark room in Washington, D.C. What would you do?”

– Manning told Lamo that “he thought that information that he had would have impact on the entire world” and that “the information would disclose casualty figures in Iraq”.

– According to Coombs, Manning told Lamo that “he believed the State Department, First World countries exploited the Third World countries” and that the State Department cables “detailed what was criminal political dealings” and that “he believed it was important that the information got out” so that “it might actually change something”. Manning told Lamo that “he did not believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore” and that “he only believed in a plethora of states acting in self-interest”.

– According to Coombs, Manning told Lamo that “he thought he was maybe too idealistic” and described himself as “a type of person who tried to investigate to find out the truth” and that “based on what he saw…he could not let information stay inside”.

– Manning told Lamo that “he could not separate himself from others”, that “he felt connected to everybody”, that “it felt like we were all distant family”, that “he cared”, and that “he wanted to make sure that everybody was okay”, that he “followed humanist values”. Manning said “we’re all human and we’re killing ourselves and no one seem to care” and that he thought “apathy was far worse than active participation”.

– Manning told Lamo that “he was maybe too traumatized to really care about the consequences to him” and that “he wasn’t brave”, “he was weak”, “he was not so much scared of getting caught and facing consequences as he was of being misunderstood”.

– At one point, Lamo asked Manning “what his end game was” and Manning responded “hopefully worldwide discussions, debates and reforms”.

– Manning told Lamo that the public reaction to the Apache video “gave him hope” and that “he wanted people to see the truth” because “without information, you can’t make informed decision” and that he hoped that “people would actually change if they saw the information”.

– Manning admitted to Lamo that “he recognized that he may be just young, naive and stupid”.

– During one of the chats, Lamo asked Manning “why he didn’t just sell the information to Russia or China?” and Manning replied that “the information belonged in the public domain” and “should be for the public good”.

– Coombs said “At one point, he [Manning] told you [Lamo]…that he wanted to eventually go into politics” and that Manning thought that “humanity could accomplish a lot if smart people with ideas collaborated with each other”.

– Lamo confirmed that at no point in their chats did Manning ever indicated that he was not loyal to the United States or that he wanted to to help the enemy.

Re-direct by prosecution attorney Maj. Ashden Fein: 

Under re-examination, Lamo confirmed that Manning said he knew Julian Assange and that he had downloaded thousands of classified documents.


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