Salon blasts Kevin Poulsen, Wired for sitting on Wikileaks evidence

Tech mag Wired is being blasted for sitting on key evidence which could assist, or convict, the source of some Wikileaks information.

Glenn Greenwald over at Salon said that Wired’s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed, but refuses to publish, the key evidence which led to the arrest of US Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as Wikileaks’ source.

In late May, Adrian Lamo, who was working as an FBI grass, gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo. In the chat logs Manning apparently confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that Wikileaks released.

Lamo put no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs and Wired could publish the lot. However Wired published only a quarter of them and refuses to even talk about it.

Greenwald said that Lamo is the only source of information for what Manning supposedly said.

Hacks are printing Lamo’s assertions about Manning’s statements even though they are unable to tell if Lamo is telling the truth.

The result is that the DOJ is trying to prosecute Wikileaks based on the theory that Julian Assange “encouraged or even helped” Manning extract the classified information. This is based on Lamo claiming that Manning told him all sorts of things about Wikileaks and Assange. However these key conversations are not included in the published chat logs.

Neither are claims made by Lamo that Assange was using an “encrypted internet conferencing service” to talk to Manning or specially creating a “dedicated server” for Manning to use.

The links between Manning and Assange are crucial if the US is going to get a conviction against Assange or Wikileaks. But the information, which could be squashed by Poulson, is remaining secret.

Greenwald claims that the key to the whole story is a bloke called Mark Rasch who is the former chief of the DOJ’s Computer Crimes Unit in the 1990s. Not only is he a “regular contributor” to Wired he happens to have prosecuted Kevin Poulsen back and put him in prison for three years.

Rasch is the person who put Lamo in touch with federal law authorities in order to grass up Manning. He is also Poulson’s key source for news.

He is a member of a group called Project Vigilant, whose mission is to grass up federal authorities of crimes taking place over the Internet. Bit of bad luck Manning choosing to brag to Lamo of all people about his involvement in Wikileaks.

Wikileaks thinks that Poulsen was a government informant and a key player in Manning’s arrest, which is something that Poulsen denies and Greenwald feels is unlikely.

Understandably Wired is a little cross at the allegations. editor-in-chief Evan Hansen and senior editor Kevin Poulsen have both hit back  .

Hanson writes Greenwald off as a “Wikileaks sympathiser” and says he has conducted a smear campaign by bringing up Poulsen’s hacker conviction.

“The bottom line is that did not have anything to do with Manning’s arrest. We discovered it and reported it: faithfully, factually and with nuanced appreciation of the ethical issues involved, ” he said.

He claims that Wired had already published “substantial excerpts” from the logs.

“Our position has been and remains that the logs include sensitive personal information with no bearing on Wikileaks, and it would serve no purpose to publish them at this time,” Hanson said.

Hanson said that it did not mean that Wired will not publish them, but before taking “an irrevocable action that could harm an individual’s privacy”, it has to weigh that person’s privacy interest against news value and relevance.

Poulsen said that nearly half Greenwald’s article is “devoted to a characteristically murky conspiracy theory” involving Rasch.

It is true that Rasch once prosecuted him for hacking a phone company and he served five years rather than three. Rasch last wrote for Wired in 2004, an opinion piece.

While Poulsen also wades into Greenwald for a pro-Wikileaks bias he does not really get into any of the mud that has been slung at him.  Both Poulsen and Hanson have opted for the “pick out the small inaccuracies out of the story and people will think the substantive material is not there”. 

Unfortunately for Wired the only way it is going to avoid such attacks is if it publishes the full transcripts and shuts the conspiracy theorists up. Instead it refuses it opens itself up to accusations of a government cover-up.