WIKILEAKS: Glenn Greenwald Vs. Wired.Com

FOREIGN POLICY: I love a good blog fight as much as anyone, but after reading several thousand words of accusations and counter accusations being slung between Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald and Wired‘s Evan Hansen and Kevin Poulsen, I’m left scratching my head trying to figure out what, exactly, this particular dispute is all about. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, first of all: congratulations. Second, here’s a quick synopsis: MORE

BOING BOING: The smackdown started a few days ago with Greenwald reiterating his demand that reveal more of the chat logs in which Pvt. Bradley Manning, alleged whistleblower, confided in Adrian Lamo, who turned him over to the authorities. While Wired’s news-writing is accurate, the problem with writing the story of the year is that how it was written is often the next headline, especially when the relationships source, subject and reporter are unusually close and opaque. And there are two sides to that story: what was left unpublished from the chat logs, and how did Wired get the scoop in the first place? Melding these two issues led Greenwald to lard salient questions about the logs with conspiracy theories about how Wired sourced its reporting. His aggressive style, directed at Wired Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen and his longtime association with Lamo, earned a defensive and contemptuous response from Poulsen and chief Evan Hansen. With the mutual trashtalk, however, focus blurred away from the more interesting question of what the logs reveal about Manning and Lamo’s chats. These details loom ever larger in the public imagination, not least because they could help American prosecutors get international man of demystery Julian Assange charged over Manning’s exfiltration of sordid (and occasionally very witty) displomatic cables. MORE

RELATED: There has been wide speculation that the United States will attempt to prosecute Julian Assange by claiming he somehow coerced or convinced Bradley Manning to give him the classified US documents Wikileaks has been publishing. At the very least, the US may try to prove that Manning received some kind of special treatment from Wikileaks/Assange. Adrian Lamo has made statements to various news agencies in which he suggests that Manning told him Assange set up some kind of private or “special” FTP servers for his use. Obviously, a private server could be considered special treatment. MORE

GLENN GREENWALD: From the start, this whole story was quite strange for numerous reasons.  In an attempt to obtain greater clarity about really happened here, I’ve spent the last week reviewing everything I could related to this case and speaking with several of the key participants (including Lamo, with whom I had a one-hour interview last night that can be heard on the recorder below, and Poulsen, with whom I had a lengthy email exchange, which is published in full here).  A definitive understanding of what really happened is virtually impossible to acquire, largely because almost everything that is known comes from a single, extremely untrustworthy source:  Lamo himself.  Compounding that is the fact that most of what came from Lamo has been filtered through a single journalist — Poulsen — who has a long and strange history with Lamo, who continues to possess but not disclose key evidence, and who has been only marginally transparent about what actually happened here. MORE

WIRED: Armchair critics, apparently unhappy that Manning was arrested, have eagerly second-guessed our motives, dreamed up imaginary conflicts and pounded the table for more information: Why would Manning open himself up to a complete stranger and discuss alleged crimes that could send him to prison for decades? How is it possible that just happened to have a connection with the one random individual Manning picked out to confide in, only to send him down for it? Not one single fact has been brought to light suggesting did anything wrong in pursuit of this story. In lieu of that, our critics — notably Glenn Greenwald of Salon, an outspoken WikiLeaks defender — have resorted to shocking personal attacks, based almost entirely on conjecture and riddled with errors. MORE

GLENN GREENWALD: For more than six months, Wired‘s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed — but refuses to publish — the key evidence in one of the year’s most significant political stories:  the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks’ source. In late May, Adrian Lamo — at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning — gave Poulsen he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs:  Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety. Despite that, on June 10, Wired published what it said was only “about 25 percent” of those logs, excerpts that it hand-picked. For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain. This is easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year:  it is just inconceivable that someone who claims to be a “journalist” — or who wants to be regarded as one — would actively conceal from the public, for months on end, the key evidence in a political story that has generated headlines around the world. MORE

WIRED: On Monday, columnist Glenn Greenwald unleashed a stunning attack on this publication, and me in particular, over our groundbreaking coverage of WikiLeaks and the ongoing prosecution of the man suspected of being the organization’s most important source. Greenwald’s piece is a breathtaking mix of sophistry, hypocrisy and journalistic laziness. […] In any event, if you can’t make an argument without resorting to misstatements, attacking the motives of an experienced and dedicated team of reporters, name-calling, bizarre conspiracy theories and ad hominem attacks, then perhaps you don’t have an argument. MORE

GLENN GREENWALD: Last night, Wired posted a two-part response to my criticisms of its conduct in reporting on the arrest of PFC Bradley Manning and the key role played in that arrest by Adrian Lamo.  I wrote about this topic twice — first back in June and then again on Monday.  The part of Wired‘s response was from Editor-in-Chief Evan Hansen, and the second is from its Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen.  Both predictably hurl all sorts of invective at me as a means of distracting attention from the central issue, the only issue that matters:  their refusal to release or even comment on what is the central evidence in what is easily one of the most consequential political stories of this year, at least.

That’s how these disputes often work by design:  the party whose conduct is in question (here, Wired) attacks the critic in order to create the impression that it’s all just some sort of screeching personality feud devoid of substance.  That, in turn, causes some bystanders to cheer for whichever side they already like and boo the side they already dislike, as though it’s some sort of entertaining wrestling match, while everyone else dismisses it all as some sort of trivial Internet catfight not worth sorting out. MORE

REUTERS: The point here is that the fight is not like the blogwars of old, despite the fact that both sides are publishing on blogs. We haven’t seen a lot of back-and-forth on the blogs, and the blog entries that we have seen have been clearly worked at considerable length. Instead, the debate has been raging on Twitter, where it’s much harder for an outsider coming to the subject afresh to follow what’s going on and who’s saying what. The biggest development in the story today comes from Sean Bonner, who seems to have managed to elicit over Twitter the very information that’s critics have been calling for all along. Wired’s Kevin Poulsen told Bonner in a tweet that “The published logs include the reference to a secure FTP server Lamo discussed with the Times”; when Bonner asked Poulsen for clarification that the reference in question was the only reference in the chat logs, Poulsen said yes. On top of that, editor Evan Hansen told Glenn Greenwald in a public tweet that he had reviewed all of the chat logs and that everything pertaining to Julian Assange or Wikileaks was already public. MORE

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