The relationship between Assange and Manning will be started by a 39 minutes lasting and little grainy “filmed” of July 2007
In the enormous dowry of confidential documents accessed, Manning discovers a shocking video: it shows an “Apache AH 64” war helicopter, in a reconnaissance flight on Baghdad’s outskirts, firing wildly (from a kilometer high) twelve unarmed civilians. Among them, two journalists from the Reuters agency: Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. The latter was a twenty-two war photographer.
The comment of one of the pilots involved in the massacre shocked the former analyst above all. Warned via radio of the presence of some boys among the wounded, he remarked: “It’s their fault if they bring boys into battle” 1
Frame after frame, from the movie emerge all the cruelty of war, the cynicism and falsehood which imbues the ambiguous distinction between “good and bad”.
The “justifications” used by the pilots, then, insanely fueled by the action on the field, reproduce the narrative of the “Banality of Evil”, already described in the Michael Moore’s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11”. A tragic atmospheres in which the arid insensibility of the Marines rides unpunished to the rhythm of metal songs, including in particular “Fire water burn” of the Bloodhound Gang.2
n April 2010, these brutal images will go around the world, thanks to Wikileaks (but above all, as we will see, thanks to Manning), with the caustic title “Collateral Murder”.3
After watching the video several times Manning is in the grip of an emotional storm.
A condition of inner distress that is clearly deduced from the several conversations entertained via chat with Adrian Lamo.
In one of these he writes: “I want people to see the truth, everyone must see it, because if you have no information you cannot decide, you cannot exercise your role as public opinion”.4
The soldier’s goal, now, is to create the conditions for leveraging on the majority of citizens, through an act of civil disobedience.
Manning comes to Julian Assange almost by chance. Since he’s not moved, as we know, by any economic reasons, but exclusively moral ones, Bradley needs a guide, a figure to rely on and trust in.
He finds it in a “crazy white-haired Australian” who published on November 25th, 2009 on Wikileaks -in chronological order- over 500 thousand messages, exchanged between private individuals and government employees, via text message and pager.5
Exchanges that start just before the attack, until the collapse of the “Twin Towers”.
The result is a detailed and distressing report of the darkest day for the United States since the end of the Second World War.
Manning understands that the documents can only come from the NSA (National Security Agency).The circumstance suggests to the boy from Crescent to get in contact with WikiLeaks.
The first “talks” with Assange dates back to the end of November 2009.
Studded with caution and mistrust at the beginning, they become, over the weeks, more and more closer.
Manning will pass to the Australian Publisher a priceless heritage of documents, copied on a banal CD. This material mainly concerns the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic dispatches.
Wikileaks creates a sort of private network with its source for the transmission of data: the files, subjected to encoding, are forwarded using the AES 256 (Advanced Encryption Standard, with a 256-bit encrypted key) and then sent via Ftp (File transfer protocol) to an internet address connected to a specific server. The decryption keys, which represent the last step, are sent separately through the Tor device (The onion router).
After the publication of “Collateral murder” (on April 5th, 2010), Manning is no longer the same. The fear of being arrested occupies the place that was destined to restlessness before. He feels alone. Hunted.
The need to find a person to unload the accumulated tensions is nothing but the first, unaware, step towards the abyss. And, as often happens in these circumstances, the lack of clarity leads to wrong choices.
In May 2010 with the nickname Bradass87 he gets in touch with a hacker (Adrian Lamo) already convicted of violating the New York Times, Microsoft and Yahoo! Computers. 6 “I made a big mess-he writes-. I think I’m more shit than you ever were.”
While he is confessing, Manning, doesn’t have any suspect about Lamo who, instead, is plotting behind his friend to sell him to the authorities.
A few days later, due to the denunciation of the Colombian-born hacker, Bradley Manning is arrested and taken to an American military prison in Kuwait.
We’ll lose track of Adrian Lamo until March 16th, 2018, when his lifeless body will be found in an apartment in Wichita, Kansas. 7
The autopsy conducted on the corpse will not reveal the causes of death.
(to be Continued)
1 David Leigh, Luke Harding, “Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, The Guardian
2 (The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, we don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn, burn motherfucker burn)
4 David Leigh, Luke Harding, “Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy,
5 Ludovica Amici, “Wikileaks”, Editori Riuniti
6 David Leigh, Luke Harding, “Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, The Guardian
7 Sam Levin, The Guardian, “Adrian Lamo, hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning, dies aged 37”