May 24, 2011
WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY
Marcela Gaviria & Martin Smith
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE—
HELICOPTER CREW MEMBER: Come on! [Machine gun fire]
JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks: The material is dramatic. It was classified— is still classified.
ANNOUNCER: Julian Assange—
— To some people a hero, to other people a devil.
ANNOUNCER: —Bradley Manning—
— An idealistic young soldier who felt out of place in the Army.
— Bradley Manning was a troubled young man.
ANNOUNCER: Over half a million leaked documents.
ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times: We don't really know whether Manning approached WikiLeaks or it was the other way around.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, WikiLeaks, 2007-10: We had always feared that one of our potential sources would be exposed.
MARTIN SMITH, Correspondent: When you read the chat [sp?], it sounds like there's some kind of connection with you.
ANNOUNCER: —the whole story.
JULIAN ASSANGE: We do not know whether Mr. Manning is our source or not.
JULIAN ASSANGE: The best way to keep a secret is to never have it.
MARTIN SMITH, Correspondent: [voice-over] In late 2009, an Army intelligence analyst stationed in Eastern Iraq logged onto a classified server.
HELICOPTER CREW MEMBER: You see all those people standing down there?
CREW MEMBER: That's a weapon.
CREW MEMBER: Yeah.
MARTIN SMITH: He opened a file that had been flagged by Army lawyers.
CREW MEMBER: Have fix to six individuals with AK-47s. Request permission to engage.
MARTIN SMITH: It was footage taken from a U.S. Army helicopter gunship.
CREW MEMBER: Light 'em all up.
CREW MEMBER: Come on, fire! [Machine gun fire]
CREW MEMBER: Roger. [Machine gun fire]
CREW MEMBER: Keep shooting. [Machine gun fire] Keep shooting. [Machine gun fire]
CREW MEMBER: All right, we just engaged all eight individuals.
CREW MEMBER: Oh, yeah. Look at all those dead bastards.
NARRATOR: Very soon after, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who was working with the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks, saw the video.
CREW MEMBER: Got a bunch of bodies laying there.
CREW MEMBER: We also have one individual appears to be wounded, trying to crawl away.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, WikiLeaks, 2007-10: It was this poor man, crouching through the streets for his life.
CREW MEMBER: Getting up.
CREW MEMBER: Does he have a weapon in his hand?
CREW MEMBER: No, I haven't seen one yet.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: You get the feeling that these guys really want to shoot, and they ask for permission to shoot a couple of times.
CREW MEMBER: Bushmaster, we have a van that's approaching and picking up the bodies.
CREW MEMBER: Yeah. We're trying to get permission to engage.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: And then you get this short moment of hope, where the civilians arrive in the van. And you feel like, "OK, finally, at least this guy has made it."
CREW MEMBER: Come on, let us shoot!
CREW MEMBER: They're taking him!
CREW MEMBER: Request permission to engage!
CREW MEMBER: One-eight, engage.
CREW MEMBER: Clear.
CREW MEMBER: Come on! [Machine gun fire]
CREW MEMBER: Clear. [Machine gun fire]
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: And then they're all dying and the whole van is blown up.
MARTIN SMITH: Among the dead were two Reuters journalists and other civilians.
CREW MEMBER: Oh, yeah. Look at that, right through the windshield!
CREW MEMBER: Hah!
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Did you know what you wanted to do with it?
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Publish. That was clear.
JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks: So my name is Julian Assange. I am the editor of WikiLeaks.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange unveiled the footage in a press conference in Washington.
JULIAN ASSANGE: The material is dramatic. It was classified— is still classified.
CREW MEMBER: They're taking him!
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: There were a lot of people that were in favor of just publishing it. And it seems that Julian had this crazy idea right in the beginning to sell it.
JULIAN ASSANGE: There was a news agency that tried very hard to get hold of this.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: His idea was to market it for $1 million exclusively to CNN or someone else who would be interested.
JULIAN ASSANGE: The material itself you see is significant and important, so—
MARTIN SMITH: In the end Assange edited the material into a short presentation with a provocative title, "Collateral Murder."
JULIAN ASSANGE: You can identify the journalists immediately by the cameras they are carrying, by the camera bags.
MARTIN SMITH: Over the next year, the video would be seen on YouTube over 11 million times.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Were you satisfied with the impact of the video? Did it achieve the result that you had hoped?
JULIAN ASSANGE: It was pretty close. Could we have structured things, structured various deals, economic incentives, and so on, to get an even bigger impact? The answer's probably yes.
We can't discuss our sourcing of the video, however—
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Then just seven weeks after Assange released his video, a private in Iraq was arrested.
NEWSCASTER: Army private Bradley Manning—
NEWSCASTER: —was arrested outside of Baghdad and is now in a military prison.
MARTIN SMITH: He was a 22-year-old intelligence analyst who had been in country for just seven months.
This is the story of Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and how more than half a million secret government documents came into public view.
[Fort Drum, New York]
MARTIN SMITH: We begin a year before Manning was deployed to Iraq. He was stationed at a base in upstate New York. He posted these photos on FaceBook and called it "Fort Frostbite." Manning's FaceBook page, to which FRONTLINE obtained access, tracks his life in the military.
Manning had become an analyst at a time of increased intelligence sharing, part of a series of post-9/11 reforms meant to give analysts like Manning more data. Prior to 9/11, information was more compartmentalized, or "stovepiped."
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, State Dept., 2002-05: Stovepipe is a corridor, you know, where no one can get into it. There were CIA stovepipes. There were FBI stovepipes. There were DoD stovepipes.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, Dpty. Secretary of State, 2007-09: So there was an effort made in the wake of 9/11 to integrate information— share it, integrate it and pass it around in real time with the proper use of our modern technologies.
MARTIN SMITH: Manning was assigned to battalion headquarters. He did intelligence work for the unit's commanding officers in preparation for their deployment to Iraq. Manning liked his assignment.
JASON EDWARDS, Manning's Friend: He talked about the fact that he was smart, it was able to get him in a different position, doing something different so that he wasn't down there with the guys that he called "the grunts." He didn't tell me any specifics, but did mention that he was consulted by those who were much higher ranked that he was. And it was a source of pride for him.
MARTIN SMITH: But while he was proud to be entrusted with state secrets, he chose not to keep his private life secret. On FaceBook, he joined groups like Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and "liked" Gay Marriage. It worried his father.
BRIAN MANNING, Manning's Father: I did see some comments I thought were pretty incriminating as far as "Don't ask, don't tell." You know, he was kind of asking for trouble.
MARTIN SMITH: Brian Manning is a former Navy intelligence analyst.
BRIAN MANNING: I thought that was pretty risky— "Hey, you know, aren't you going against the policy that's in place where you're at?"
MARTIN SMITH: Manning was taking a big risk. Under the Army's "Don't ask, don't tell" rules, gay soldiers like Manning were required to keep their sexual orientation secret. His friends also worried about his political activism.
JASON EDWARDS: In his FaceBook profile, he posted signs and pictures at his presence at rallies.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Gay rights rallies?
JASON EDWARDS: Right. This struck me as very dangerous to his position. I mean, I admired him for his— you know, for his courage on this, but I thought it might be a little bit foolhardy.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] During this period, Manning also started a relationship with a young man from upstate New York named Tyler Watkins. On weekends, Bradley would visit him in Boston, where Watkins was studying.
During those trips, the young intelligence analyst also found a new group of friends, computer science students and hackers. At the time, WikiLeaks was already making headlines and Julian Assange was an admired figure among hackers.
Boston opened new doors for Manning. But he had a problem back on base.
JORDAN DAVIS, Manning's Friend: He thought that this one officer dude had it out for him, that he didn't like him and that he thought that a lot of the things they did were inefficient and that, you know, that there were better ways of doing things.
MARTIN SMITH: Manning had a history of trouble. Before he joined the Army, he had struggled to keep a steady job. It was his father who pushed him to sign up.
[Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri]
MARTIN SMITH: He enlisted at 19. At 5 foot 2, Manning was the smallest guy in his unit. Boot camp didn't go well.
"NICK," Manning's Army Roommate: You could tell the Army was not for Manning. The drill sergeants just did not like him at all, and they would just, like, pick on him, like, constantly. You know, "That was not a good push-up. Go do 20 more!" Since he was gay and effeminate and small and tiny, he could do a small little thing, and they would just try to make his life a living hell.
MARTIN SMITH: Despite being harassed, Manning fought back.
"NICK": He tried to fight and argue because Manning is a very vocal person. Even though he was picked on a lot, he would— he'd speak for himself. He would let— he would yell back and fight, and that's, I think, what caused a lot of drill sergeants to pick on him even more.
MARTIN SMITH: It was a vicious circle. Manning started getting into fights. At Fort Drum, he was reprimanded for tossing chairs and yelling at fellow soldiers. He was referred for counseling. But because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Manning was unable to confide in his Army therapist. He sought counseling off base.
JASON EDWARDS: He called me from Fort Drum after some clashes between him and officers or other enlisted men. And mostly, it was just him crying over the phone to me.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Crying? Sobbing?
JASON EDWARDS: Yeah. Very violently.
MARTIN SMITH: And what would he be saying?
JASON EDWARDS: A lot of it was intelligible. Mostly, it was, "Why?" He claimed that his superiors were stupid. And, "I can't stay in this situation. I'm never going to get out."
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] His Army supervisor was concerned about sending Manning to Iraq, worried that he was a risk both to himself and others. But there was a shortage of qualified analysts. He was sent anyway.
[voice-over] During the time that he's either in training here in the U.S. or after his deployment overseas, you had no communications with him—
BRIAN MANNING: None.
MARTIN SMITH: —and knew nothing about any troubles that he might be having.
BRIAN MANNING: Nothing. Not an e-mail, not a text message, not a letter, nothing.
MARTIN SMITH: Did you write to him?
BRIAN MANNING: Nope.
MARTIN SMITH: Did you ever—
BRIAN MANNING: I didn't know his address.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Manning arrived at Forward Operating Base Hammer in mid-October 2009. He would work with a handful of intelligence analysts in a top secret facility called a SCIF.
TIM WEBSTER, Army Counterintelligence, 2002-07: Well, a SCIF is simply a facility that meets very specific, very rigid standards to safeguard the classified information that's stored inside. Anybody who has access, physical access to those networks, has been given a great deal of trust by the United States government.
MARTIN SMITH: The two classified networks Manning had access to were JWICS, which contains high-level military secrets, and SIPRNet, which stores hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.
JOHN NEGROPONTE: And it wasn't only for sharing purposes with other agencies, it was also for the purposes of sharing with other governments because we gave access to SIPRNet to key allies.
SPENCER ACKERMAN, Wired.com: There's just been a theory in the military, over the last decade especially, that the lower you push this information, the more you empower your people, the greater strategic benefit you're going to ultimately see. You know, the platoon and squad level can have an order of magnitude of transformational impact during the war.
MARTIN SMITH: There was a flood of information that analysts like Manning would have had access to. Every helicopter and every drone records its missions. Soldiers wear helmetcams. And every day, soldiers in the field file detailed reports of their battles, their encounters with informants and more. These reports are the war logs.
SPENCER ACKERMAN: We're talking about thousands of people. In really every military command that there is, there's an office. There's computers with information that allow analysts to access just an absolute cornucopia of material.
MARTIN SMITH: Security controls on this information can vary. Manning could bring recordable CDs into his SCIF apparently without problems.
TIM WEBSTER, Army Counterintelligence, 2002-07: That he was playing Lady Gaga or whatever on a classified work station in a war zone— I can't speak to that. Obviously you're not allowed to plug in any unclassified media. And if you do, that media becomes classified at the level of the work station immediately.
MARTIN SMITH: And there was nothing preventing Manning from downloading data and no software in place to detect unusual downloading activity.
ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times: The idea that this guy could download confidential and classified information onto a CD, or plug in a memory stick into a computer, and A, it would allow— allow you do that, and B, there was no red flag that went up for a supervisor to say, you know, "Why is this guy spending so much time doing this kind of thing?" I mean, that was shocking.
MARTIN SMITH: In January 2010, Manning would return to the U.S. on leave. He went to see Tyler Watkins, but their relationship was on the rocks. According to his friend, Jason Edwards, Manning was feeling abandoned.
JASON EDWARDS: I asked him about this. I said "Do you have anyone that you can confide in? Do you have anyone that you really would consider your friend?" And he assured me that he had nothing. And so for him, Tyler was— Tyler was— was where he put all the— that was the one basket in which he put all his emotional eggs.
MARTIN SMITH: It was during that week in Boston that Manning attended this party at Boston University's hacker space hosted by David House.
DAVID HOUSE, Founder, BUILDS: I was a senior at Boston University in computer science and I founded this maker space at B.U. called BUILDS— B.U. Information Lab and Design Space. Bradley showed up to the open house at this event. And you know, this was a night when the room was absolutely packed. He didn't strike me at all at that time as being a particularly memorable or remarkable individual. What he was doing was mostly socializing, meeting others, trying to learn about how this scene in Boston actually functioned.
MARTIN SMITH: Standing back, leaning against the table, is Bradley Manning. The young intelligence analyst, full of secrets, was mingling among hackers.
Investigators now believe that sometime in this period, Manning either uploaded or handed off two large data files, the war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.
ERIC SCHMITT: We don't really know whether Manning approached WikiLeaks or people around WikiLeaks, or if it was the other way around. But my theory is whichever way it is, there's an intermediary. There's a group of people in the middle, probably these people in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who are kind of former computer hackers, many of whom are supporters or are kind of in this loose network of people who support WikiLeaks.
So somewhere in this mix, you have Manning with access to this information, you've got WikiLeaks and Julian Assange with the desire to get it, and then you've got a helpful intermediary. And somewhere in between here, there's a transfer, I believe, takes place.
MARTIN SMITH: The question of how Assange acquired the documents is important. Was Assange a passive recipient or was he more involved?
ERIC SCHMITT: I think Assange is savvy enough that he would have tried to avoid at all costs any direct contact with Bradley Manning, understanding that that could later lead to a much easier prosecution on the grounds of conspiracy to commit espionage.
MARTIN SMITH: In other words, if WikiLeaks actively helped someone violate secrecy laws, Assange and his colleagues could be held criminally liable.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, WikiLeaks, 2007-10: We had one rule at the core of this whole project, and that was not to solicit anything. This is a very important part of this whole project. It's one of these golden rules that you need to have, is you do not solicit material. You're just a conduit.
We accept these documents anonymously. We have various strong mechanisms to protect the sources that we have.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Instead of keeping source identities secret, we simply do not collect them at all.
We've never lost a source and we've never lost a legal case. We have technological means to protect people.
MARTIN SMITH: Assange says he designed WikiLeaks so that he wouldn't even know who his sources were.
JULIAN ASSANGE: That sort of dedication to protecting sources is something that our sources have seen.
We do not know whether Mr. Manning is our source or not. And of course, if we did know, we are obligated ethically to not reveal it.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] But how do you prevent me from writing you and telling you in a chat that I have a video of a massacre, and I want you to tell me how to get it to you?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Our help desk has a completely anonymous chat. It's anonymous to us. The user names are anonymous, and so on.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] In February 2010, Manning was back in Iraq. And within a month or two, he allegedly loaded special data mining software onto his classified workstation and started downloading more documents, including a quarter million confidential State Department cables.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON, State Dept., 2002-05: Confidential information, like what did Secretary of Defense Gates say to his counterpart in Paris? What did the ambassador in Paris say to Secretary Gates? But it's confidential. Bradley Manning, for example, does not need to know what the secretary of defense said to his counterpart in Paris.
MARTIN SMITH: By late April, Bradley Manning's private world was falling apart. When Manning saw on FaceBook that his friend, Tyler Watkins, was in a new relationship, he lashed out. "If you don't start answering some goddamn questions," he wrote, "There will be a hell of a scene."
JASON EDWARDS: I really thought he was going to kill himself. I just was waiting for the news that he was going to blow his head off.
MARTIN SMITH: According to an Army report a week, after the break-up, Manning was found in a fetal position. He had a knife and had etched on a chair the words "I want."
KEVIN POULSEN, Sr. Editor, Wired.com: He was despondent. He had just been in the process of being demoted after getting in a fight with another soldier. He claimed that he was on his way out of the Army. So there was— there was a lot going on.
JASON EDWARDS: The last message I remember seeing from him was something to the effect that there was news that was going to shock the world and that I would hear about it.
MARTIN SMITH: In late May, a hacker in California was contacted and began a chat with someone using the screen name Bradass87. "If you had free reign over classified networks and you saw incredible things, awful things, what would you do?"
ADRIAN LAMO, Former Hacker: He had spoke in hypotheticals at first. Even then, I largely blew it off. There just aren't enough hours in the day to correspond with everybody that wants to correspond with me.
MARTIN SMITH: The hacker, Adrian Lamo, was well known in the cyber underground. In 2003, he'd been arrested for hacking The New York Times. And the day before the chat, Lamo was featured in an article on Wired.com that discussed his psychiatric problems. Bradass87 would keep up his chat with Lamo for the next four days.
ADRIAN LAMO: He talked a lot about his personal life, about his relationships, about his experiences in the military, about experiences back home.
MARTIN SMITH: Lamo says the person also contacted him via email and they became friends on FaceBook. It was Bradley Manning, intelligence analyst in Iraq. And in his profile, there was the chat name, Bradass87. He read more.
ADRIAN LAMO: Looking at his FaceBook page, I got the sense that Bradley was very depressed.
MARTIN SMITH: Then during one their chats, Bradass87 started dropping hints about a crazy white-haired Aussie.
ADRIAN LAMO: He mentioned Julian Assange in the context, Julian was the individual at WikiLeaks who he had initially establish contact with.
MARTIN SMITH: He also mentioned that he had leaked thousands of classified documents, including a huge tranche of diplomatic cables.
ADRIAN LAMO: I asked him if there was any way to recover the documents, and he indicated that they had already been uploaded to WikiLeaks' server. It was a fairly unambiguous statement.
MARTIN SMITH: Lamo says he believed Manning was a security risk and worried that if he didn't say something, he could be party to a crime. He called an old friend, Tim Webster.
TIM WEBSTER, Army Counterintelligence, 2002-07: Adrian was quite conflicted. We had a back-and-forth, where he was concerned about whether or not this was the right to do, whether to betray this person's trust was appropriate, given his actions. Adrian recognized that we can't have somebody out there leaking classified information like this. It's not something you can allow to continue.
MARTIN SMITH: Webster coached Lamo to keep up the chat as long as possible to find out more details. He also alerted the Pentagon that they may have a security breach. Lamo was nervous and felt trapped.
ADRIAN LAMO: There was no correct option, there was only the least incorrect one. Either way, I would have been screwing somebody over. I had to pick who. There was no option to just sit back and wash my hands of the responsibility because that in and of itself would have been making a choice.
MARTIN SMITH: Lamo then called a reporter he knew at Wired.com.
KEVIN POULSEN, Sr. Editor, Wired.com: He called me to tell me that he had a meeting set up the next day with the FBI and the Army because he was turning in somebody who’d contacted him on line and confessed to passing classified information to someone he described as a foreign national.
MARTIN SMITH: Poulsen convinced Lamo to hand him a copy of the chat, and then asked a colleague to follow up on any leads.
KIM ZETTER, Sr. Reporter, Wired.com: We went through the chat logs, and we looked at what else he mentioned. Tyler Watkins was named in the chat logs.
MARTIN SMITH: Zetter called Watkins. He told her about a conversation he’d had with Manning during Manning’s January visit to Boston.
KIM ZETTER: Brad had told him that he uncovered information that concerned him and he was considering leaking it. And so he was weighing that, whether or not the good that he felt he would be doing in leaking the information outweighed any kind of, you know, personal suffering that he might undergo for leaking it.
MARTIN SMITH: On May 26, 2010, Bradley Manning was arrested. It was posted on FaceBook.
KEVIN POULSEN: We got confirmation that Manning had been arrested when Manning called his aunt from jail—
KIM ZETTER: —and asked her to update his FaceBook page with a message.
MARTIN SMITH: It would be his final FaceBook entry.
JORDAN DAVIS, Manning’s Friend: I just couldn’t— I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t seem true. I guess part of me probably believed that this would— that this would turn out to not, you know, be anything and— well, I guess I was wrong, so—
EMCEE: Please welcome Julian Assange
MARTIN SMITH: In the weeks before Manning was arrested, Julian Assange was on the road promoting WikiLeaks.
JULIAN ASSANGE: So I'm not sure how many people here are familiar with the basics of my work. And I'll just try and go very briefly—
MARTIN SMITH: Since 2006, he had already amassed an impressive record of leaking secrets—
JULIAN ASSANGE: —sensitive material, restricted material—
MARTIN SMITH: but the "Collateral Murder" video had taken WikiLeaks to a new level.
JULIAN ASSANGE: —one classified video can possibly stop a war.
MARTIN SMITH: The news of Manning's arrest hit WikiLeaks like a bomb.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, WikiLeaks, 2007-10: That was terrible. That one problem occurred that we had always feared, which is that one of our potential sources would— would be exposed. You had this picture all over the Internet of this really sympathetic-looking guy, and he's such a young person. So it's kind of extraordinary that someone at this age has these really profound views on things.
MARTIN SMITH: The outing of an alleged source was bad enough, but Wired.com had also published portions of the Lamo chat, complete with Manning's references to Assange, WikiLeaks and to documents he had leaked.
KIM ZETTER: Assange was anxious and frightened initially when our story came out. In fact, he contacted me and he wanted the chat logs. And he said that he needed it in order to prepare Manning's defense. But you know, it was to prepare Manning's defense for who? You know, I can only speculate, but I think that he was concerned about what was in the chat logs about himself.
MARTIN SMITH: Zetter refused to hand them over. Assange then tried getting the entire chat from Lamo.
ADRIAN LAMO: Assange sent me an e-mail after Bradley was arrested, encouraging me to change my characterization of the events to refer to Manning as a whistleblower, rather than a spy, and ascribe my motivations to a momentary lapse of reason.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Adrian Lamo— you wrote him an e-mail after the fact.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, that's correct.
MARTIN SMITH: And you encouraged him to change his characterization of the events.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes. I thought that if there was a chance that— well, regardless— let me clarify. We are in a very difficult position concerning Bradley Manning. The difficulty of our position is that our technology does not permit us to understand whether someone is one of our sources or not because the best way to keep a secret is to never have it.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] But in the chat with Lamo, Bradass87 says he did not use the normal WikiLeaks submission system. He says he had a relationship with Assange.
ADRIAN LAMO: He stated that he had spent four months trying to track Assange down and reassure himself of the identity of the person that he was communicating with— that is, to make sure that it actually was Assange.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] People who've read the chat raise several instances where he talks about you and his relationship. And when you read it, it sounds like there's a connection, perhaps a chat or e-mail or some kind of connection with you.
JULIAN ASSANGE: We looked at the— the whole context, and was there someone trying to big-note themselves by suggesting their connection to us? We don't have sources that we know about. And I had never heard the name Bradley Manning before. I never heard the name Bradass87 before.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] At a major conference last year, Assange was also asked if Manning was his source for the video and the cables.
INTERVIEWER: There's been this U.S. intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, arrested. And it's alleged that he confessed in a chat room to have leaked this video to you, long with 280,000 classified U.S. embassy cables. I mean, did he?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, we have denied receiving those cables.
MARTIN SMITH: Assange was facing a dilemma. If WikiLeaks acknowledged having more documents alleged to have come from Manning, he risked further harm to his source.
[on camera] Did you discuss internally amongst yourselves whether or not releasing the war logs, and eventually the cables, could further jeopardize him?
JULIAN ASSANGE: There was discussion about, you know, we have a situation where there's a young man held in military prison under investigation who's alleged to be a source for the "Collateral Murder" video. But we have published and received military documents long before Bradley Manning ever joined the Army.
MARTIN SMITH: But he mentions some of these packages in— allegedly in the chat.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, for example— for example, in that alleged chat he does not mention anything about the Afghan material—
MARTIN SMITH: But the Iraq war logs—
JULIAN ASSANGE: —whatsoever.
MARTIN SMITH: —and the cables are mentioned.
JULIAN ASSANGE: He mentions a number of things. What we do know is that we promised the source that we would publish everything that they gave to us.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: It was clear for me that these diplomatic cables should not be released.
MARTIN SMITH: Why?
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Because it was unclear how much that would implicate someone that had gotten into trouble. And I think it is— I mean, there's a very hard distinction you have to take. What is more important, bringing the truth to the light or protecting one person?
MARTIN SMITH: What is the right choice?
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: I don't know. My gut and my heart say that you should protect the person.
[New York City]
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] After Manning's arrest, Assange was scheduled to speak in the U.S. at a hackers conference.
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN, Editor, _2600: The Hacker Quarterly_: The person who leaked the video in the first place to WikiLeaks should be considered a national hero. [applause and cheers]
MARTIN SMITH: Talk of Assange and Manning dominated the discussions.
ADRIAN LAMO: To set the record clear, I'm not an informant. I'm a witness in a criminal case.
MARTIN SMITH: Adrian Lamo sat on what was referred to as "the snitch panel."
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN: Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, is currently sitting in prison in Kuwait, I believe, and he could be locked up for the rest of his life. How do you feel about that?
MAN IN AUDIENCE: And tortured!
ADRIAN LAMO: I think that it's a little bit ludicrous to say that Bradley Manning's going to be tortured. We don't do that for our— to our citizens. [boos and jeers]
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN: He got booed at many points. What he had done was probably the most unpopular thing ever in the hacker world. When someone alleged to have been responsible for bringing out the truth is imprisoned because of the actions of somebody else, the reaction to that is simply swift and condemning.
MARTIN SMITH: The crowd eagerly awaited their keynote speaker.
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN: How many of you expect to see Julian walk through that side door right now and come up onto this stage?
MARTIN SMITH: Conference organizers believed there were half a dozen federal agents sitting in the audience.
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN: And how many of you live in the real world?
MARTIN SMITH: Assange sent a surrogate.
JACOB APPELBAUM, Fmr. Volunteer, WikiLeaks: Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance. [laughter] I'm here today because I believe that we can make a better world. Julian, unfortunately, can't make it because we don't live in that better world.
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN: It was rumored that documents were yet to be released. Having that kind of a rumor that you have sensitive documents that could embarrass the U.S. or cause national security issues makes it a little difficult to travel to the country that's accusing you of that in the first place.
MARTIN SMITH: For a month Assange had been in hiding. Then he resurfaced. He had decided to go ahead and publish the Afghan and Iraq war logs, in all, nearly 500,000 files. He sought partners.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: He wanted to build this coalition. So that was his idea of how to go about this— Let's start working on the coalition between a couple of newspapers, The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.
JULIAN ASSANGE: We insisted on bringing in The New York Times. We also insisted on The New York Times publishing first. So if there was any debate before a jury about, had it been published first in a foreign publication or a U.S. publication, it would be very clear it was published first in a U.S. publication.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Protected by the 1st Amendment.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Protected by the 1st Amendment.
MARTIN SMITH: Not an act of— of espionage by—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Exactly, not an act of espionage. But that— clearly that wasn't the case, but we didn't want anyone to try and spin it, either.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] While Assange started working with The Guardian's reporters in London, The Guardian's chief editor called his counterpart at The New York Times.
BILL KELLER, Exec. Editor, The New York Times: He bit by bit laid out the situation, which was that they had been given this enormous trove of information, hundreds of thousands of documents, dispatches from the field in Afghanistan and Iraq. There was at that point a— an intimation that there might be more things to come. And was I interested? And clearly, I was interested.
MARTIN SMITH: Over the next four weeks, The Times, Der Spiegel and Guardian reporters pored through the war logs looking for news. There was no one startling headline, but there was lots of rich detail.
DEAN BAQUET, Asst. Managing Editor, NYTimes: It was a remarkable insight. I mean, it was an unvarnished, rich portrait of the daily conduct of two wars. I would argue that you came away with stuff you didn't get in the Pentagon Papers because of the— the rawness of the information, the sheer day-to-day mundane life of war.
MARTIN SMITH: In their coverage, the papers decided that they would black out the names of any civilian informants working for the U.S. military. But Assange had a different idea for his WikiLeaks' Web site. One evening, just days before publication, they confronted him over dinner.
DAVID LEIGH, Investigations Exec. Editor, The Guardian: Julian, whose project was to publish the entire data set, was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. And we said, "Julian, we've got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to." And he said, "These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die." And there was a sort of silence fell around the table.
NICK DAVIES, The Guardian: The other journalists who were involved from all three news organizations were also raising the issue with him, and getting the same answer. Part of what was steering his judgment was his origins as a hacker, a computer hacker, where there's a very purist ideology that all information should be accessible to everybody.
MARTIN SMITH: Only at the 11th hour would Assange change his mind. His team was caught off guard.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Four days before publication, 90,000 documents needed to be redacted. I mean, what do you do? It's 90,000 documents, and there's just no way that anyone could screen 90,000 documents over the weekend.
MARTIN SMITH: In a process Assange called "harm minimization," he agreed to hold back around 14,000 of the most sensitive documents. But it didn't protect everyone at risk.
NICK DAVIES: And within 48 hours of us publishing the war logs, hostile newspapers in New York and London who compete with The Guardian and The New York Times ran big stories saying, "We've been on the WikiLeaks Web site. We found material which could get people killed."
And that had a very damaging political impact on the way that the story played out, and also within WikiLeaks, where Julian's colleagues were horrified that their Web site was carrying this material and very angry that it was carrying that material and they'd never been told.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] The question of "harm minimization"— you came in for a lot of criticism of that, that you were in your initial conversations not concerned.
JULIAN ASSANGE: That's absolutely false. And this is a typical rhetorical trick by—
MARTIN SMITH: Why— why does this keep coming up? Why are there—
JULIAN ASSANGE: Oh, I'll explain—
MARTIN SMITH: —people out there that are saying that you didn't care if informants were killed?
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's absolutely false.
MARTIN SMITH: But you reject the idea or the allegation—
JULIAN ASSANGE: We are completely— completely—
MARTIN SMITH: —that you ever resisted— that you were into just releasing the names.
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's completely false. We have a harm minimization procedure. A harm minimization procedure is that we don't want innocent people, who have a decent chance of being hurt, to be hurt.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] By the time the Iraq war logs were released, they were heavily redacted. But The Times had lost trust in the process. They refused to link to WikiLeaks in any of their coverage. Assange was furious.
BILL KELLER: Julian called me up and said that he took that as a sign of disrespect. You know, it— it made him angry.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] What did you tell him?
BILL KELLER: I said we believe that in those documents you posted are the names of innocent people whose lives could be put at risk. We were not going to link to that.
MARTIN SMITH: What did he say?
BILL KELLER: He said, "Where's the respect?"
MARTIN SMITH: Assange threatened to cut The Times out of any future deals, notably access to the 251,000 diplomatic cables. Then The Times published a profile of Bradley Manning.
BILL KELLER: Julian was quite angry at The New York Times. Following on the heels of our disagreement about the linking, we wrote a piece about Bradley Manning which he very much didn't like.
DEAN BAQUET: Assange's narrative was that Bradley Manning was a hero and that he did this for heroic purposes. We wrote a much more textured story that also said he was a troubled guy who had a troubled relationship with the military. Assange hated that story. He hated things we wrote about him. He hated the fact that we were publicly critical of him. So he didn't want us anywhere near these documents. He gave them to The Guardian.
DAVID LEIGH, Investigations Exec. Editor, The Guardian: He decided he was going to double-cross The New York Times and cut them out of the deal because he was angry. They had written a disobliging profile of him, describing him as imperious and crazy, and you know, impossible. We weren't willing to double-cross The New York Times. We thought a deal is a deal.
MARTIN SMITH: The Guardian shared a copy of the cables with The Times. So on the evening of November 28th, 2010, The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel published.
NEWSCASTER: More secrets exposed today as once again the WikiLeaks—
MARTIN SMITH: It touched every country. It was the biggest story on the planet. Of all the files Manning is alleged to have leaked, this was the motherlode.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FMR. ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Whoever leaked that information is guilty of treason. And I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.
ANDREI SITOV, TASS: Question. Do you believe that actually capturing Mr. Assange and prosecuting him will send the right kind of signal?
P.J. CROWLEY, Asst. Secy. of State, 2009-11: Mr. Assange has disclosed this material without regard to the risk that it does generate to real people—
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Is there anything good to come out of this, in your view?
P.J. CROWLEY: No.
MARTIN SMITH: Nothing.
P.J. CROWLEY: The unauthorized release of 251,000 cables that covers every relationship the United States has with countries around the world has done damage to the national interests of the United States.
NEWSCASTER: This is a nightmare for U.S. diplomats.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] It was a window never before opened to the public.
NEWSCASTER: They are highly sensitive documents, never meant to be read by the public.
MARTIN SMITH: Daily dispatches between 270 diplomatic outposts around the world and Washington.
NEWSCASTER: The Obama administration is in the midst of international damage control.
MARTIN SMITH: The release exposed candid, often embarrassing assessments.
JOHN NEGROPONTE: it's certainly been a pretty serious irritant in a number of places. And you know, to the extent that cooperating with other countries, multilateralism, partnerships around the world— to the extent that these kind of leaks undermine friendships, they're harmful. Is it a nuclear bomb? No. But it's— it's pretty serious.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] According to U.S. diplomats, it's made it harder for them to do their job. Was that the intent?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, if— if they are embarrassed by what their job is, then yes, it is— that was absolutely the broader philosophical intent, to make embarrassing behavior harder to commit. Embarrassing behavior—
MARTIN SMITH: But it will make local officials less likely to shore information.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Embarrassing behavior is just this side of abusive behavior.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Only 12,000 out of a quarter million diplomatic cables have been published so far, but they've already had consequences. A dozen cables from Tunisia exposed widespread corruption there and helped fuel a revolution, and arguably, had a domino effect.
BILL KELLER, Exec. Editor, The New York Times: I mean, I don't want to give WikiLeaks credit for the transformation of the Arab world, but you know, to the extent that Tunisia influenced Egypt, these cables played some role in the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. And these things are having an impact that I don't think any of us imagined at the time when it was somebody was just handing us a huge trove of secret documents.
DEAN BAQUET, Asst. Managing Editor, NYTimes: If you boil it down, look at what happened as a result of WikiLeaks. We gained a tremendous understanding of how government works, how wars are conducted. Balance the disclosures and the impact and the importance of the disclosures against everybody's fear over what was going to happen, seems to me it ended up OK, right?
NEWSCASTER: Army Intelligence Private First Class Bradley Manning has been held for seven months in solitary confinement.
NEWSCASTER: He's in isolation, as we keep our most serious criminals, even though he has not been convicted.
PROTESTERS: Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning!
MARTIN SMITH: Manning has been charged with 22 counts, including unlawful possession of classified material and aiding the enemy.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: I was the Bradley Manning of my day and—
MARTIN SMITH: Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers hoping to end the Vietnam war, came to his defense.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Bradley Manning is no more of a traitor than I am, and I'm not.
MARTIN SMITH: And so did his computer science friends from Boston.
DAVID HOUSE, Bradley Manning Support Network: I'm a friend of Bradley Manning's. I've been visiting him for the last few months in confinement. And I got to tell you it's stuff like this that gives Bradley hope!
MARTIN SMITH: Manning has refused to cooperate with the government's investigation. Supporters say the government is trying to turn him.
DAVID HOUSE: Bradley Manning has not been convicted of anything. He's not formally been indicted of anything. And he's being punished with this solitary confinement. I believe this is an effort to get Bradley Manning to crack under the pressure, to maybe go for a plea deal or something.
MARTIN SMITH: Just last month, Manning was moved from Quantico, Virginia, to a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His lawyer says his conditions have improved. Manning is expected to face his first pre-trial hearing this summer.
In England, Julian Assange is facing his own troubles. He is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sex crimes, charges he denies.
NEWSCASTER: And while the world's media wait outside court, inside, Julian Assange has been granted bail.
MARTIN SMITH: Assange now lives in the family home of a supporter three hours northeast of London. He must report daily to the police. A grand jury in the U.S. is investigating his connection to the leaks.
[on camera] You're tied up here in this house. And you've offended a lot of people.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, but history is on our side. When you expose powerful organizations, they will— there'll be ad hominem attacks and there'll be al sorts of attacks. And yes, in our case, there've been— there've been— in my personal case, they've been rather hard. But it's not an unusual circumstance.
MARTIN SMITH: What's next for WikiLeaks?
JULIAN ASSANGE: WikiLeaks is continuing to step up its publishing speed. We are still involved in getting the majority of these cables out. And it does good. We can see the effects all around us.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Last September, Daniel Domscheit-Berg left WikiLeaks to start his own whistle-blowing Web site after a falling-out with Assange.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: He doesn't care very much about your views, and it's either his way or the highway. And it just really got abusive, so to a point where if you criticized it, he was starting— he started to threaten people.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] How do you feel about what you accomplished?
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Well, I feel— and that I think is the whole— is the only important thing about WikiLeaks. It has set in motion a cultural change, in some way that it has created this whole debate that we are having today. What is secrecy? And is there a need for secrecy? And what is the need for breaking these secrets? And where do you have to draw the line in between these things?
The goal is not to get rid of all secrets in this world, but the goal is to foster transparency. And that I think is a really important cause.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Adrian Lamo, fearing for his safety, is now living in an undisclosed location. He works as a computer threat analyst.
ADRIAN LAMO: I couldn't even begin to speculate how it ends with me. If someone had told me that all this would happen, say five years ago, I— it would have beggared belief. It's really living proof that truth is stranger than fiction.
MARTIN SMITH: It was one year ago that Bradass87 reached out to Lamo. "I wouldn't mind going to prison for the rest of my life. It's important that it gets out. I feel for some bizarre reason it might actually change something."
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