Private Bradley Manning was the man U.S. authorities allege stole classified military files, providing them to WikiLeaks for publication.
It's a case that has all the hallmarks of a spy thriller. Bradley Manning was a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq, when he allegedly downloaded classified files onto a disk storing Lady Gaga songs. It's alleged he then confided what he'd done to a computer hacker. A short time later the authorities arrested Manning and he's been in a military jail ever since.
Early last year reporter Quentin McDermott told the story of Bradley Manning and the people who'd helped the United States government build a case against him. Now Four Corners reprises the program, updating it with crucial new elements describing the ferocious battle between hackers and the U.S. government as they pursue Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
The program also talks to Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, about the treatment of Bradley Manning. Mr Mendez says Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during his "excessive and prolonged isolation" at Quantico Marine Corps Base outside Washington.
The question remains: will Bradley Manning attempt to avoid a life sentence by turning against Julian Assange?
The reprise of "WikiLeaks- The Forgotten Man", reported by Quentin McDermott and presented by Kerry O'Brien goes to air on Monday 18th June at 8.30 PM on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 19th June at 11.35 PM. It can also be seen on ABC News24 on Saturday at 8.00 PM, on ABC iview or at 4 Corners.
"WikiLeaks - The Forgotten Man" Monday 18 June 2012
KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: His name is Bradley Manning. He's a soldier in the US Army. Allegedly he gave a huge portfolio of America's state secrets to WikiLeaks. Now, his court-martial is set to divide America.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT, REPORTER: So they want him to do a deal? They want him to turn the tables on Julian Assange?
DAVID HOUSE, BRADLEY MANNING SUPPORT NETWORK: I think that's completely correct. The US Government is just trying to put immense pressure on him in order to get him to crack open.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Welcome to Four Corners. While the clock ticks down to WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden, the man who could hold the key to his eventual fate is locked in a military cell in America, awaiting trial. Private Manning was stationed in Iraq when it's alleged he gave WikiLeaks a quarter of a million State Department cables, and half a million US Army reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It remains the biggest intelligence and diplomatic leak by far in global history. Manning, who's refused to implicate Julian Assange in anything he did; as a result, Manning may well spend the rest of his life in prison. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. The ensuing scandal led to the resignation of President Nixon, a man obsessed with leaks. The most famous whistle-blower of that era, Daniel Ellsberg, is now Bradley Manning's most prominent supporter, and features in our story tonight. We first reported on Manning's case nearly 18 months ago. Since then, a UN Human Rights rapporteur has condemned his treatment as akin to torture. Tonight, Quentin McDermott updates the story of Bradley Manning and his spectacular alleged exposure of America's secret world.
APACHE HELICOPTER PILOT: Hotel Two-Six: this is Crazy Horse One-Eight, have individuals with weapons... Yep, he's got a weapon too.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: In April 2010, the most shocking vision to come out of the war in Iraq was published by WikiLeaks.
APACHE HELICOPTER PILOT: All right, firing!
APACHE HELICOPTER PILOT II: Let me know when you've got them. Let's shoot. Light 'em all up. Come on, fire! Keep shoot'n, keep shoot'n. Keep shoot'n. Keep shoot'n.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The US Army video, filmed in 2007, showed a group of men - almost all unarmed - being gunned down in a Baghdad street by an American Apache helicopter - and recorded the voices of the soldiers carrying out the attack.
APACHE HELICOPTER PILOT: Come on buddy... all you gotta do is pick up a weapon.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: One man had reportedly been carrying an RPG - a rocket-propelled grenade - but two of the unarmed men who died were Reuters news staff - and two young children in a van were seriously wounded in the onslaught.
APACHE HELICOPTER PILOT: Clear... clear... come around clear...
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The title given to the video - Collateral Murder - marked the launch of a highly politicised agenda for WikiLeaks, driven by the website's founder, Julian Assange.
JULIAN ASSANGE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WIKILEAKS: Of course the title is absolutely correct. It speaks about very specific incidents. If you go to collateralmurder.com you will see the exact incident it's talking about, when a man is crawling in the street completely unarmed, wounded and he is killed by a 30 millimetre cannon from the air very intentionally, and his rescuers.
DANIEL ELLSBERG, FORMER MILITARY ANALYST: I watched the Apache Helicopter attack in the video with the eyes of a former marine infantry officer. I was a platoon leader and company commander, and I was also a battalion training officer, who had trained troops on Nuremberg and the laws of war. It was very clear to me that what I was looking at was a war crime, was murder.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The video's credits paid tribute to "Our Courageous Source", and advertised WikiLeaks' "unbroken record in protecting confidential sources." But just seven weeks later, Private Bradley Manning, an army intelligence analyst based in Baghdad, was arrested and charged with leaking the video. It was a shattering blow, as a former spokesman for WikiLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, recalled, when he spoke to Four Corners in Berlin.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, WIKILEAKS: When that happened, and when it was black and white that an alleged source of our was arrested, and it was in connection to these high profile... to this high profile video, and it was by the US Military and he was detained in a prison in Kuwait, that was really devastating. And I, I can't even put words on how I felt. This was like falling into a pit that had no end.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Private Manning's arrest wasn't triggered by a lapse in security from WikiLeaks, a tip-off from a fellow soldier, or security checks in Iraq. Instead - and bizarrely - it was instigated by this man, a former hacker from California called Adrian Lamo. Mr Lamo spoke to Four Corners on Skype. He says Bradley Manning approached him online after learning of their shared interest in WikiLeaks, and that their conversations ranged over several days.
The words Private Manning is alleged to have used in their chats are voiced here by an actor.
BRADLEY MANNING, ALLEGED LEAKER (voiceover): I'm an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern Baghdad, pending discharge for "adjustment disorder".
ADRIAN LAMO, THREAT ANALYST & "GREY HAT" HACKER: Mr Manning introduced himself factually as an intelligence analyst stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq. His initial communication was unremarkable. There was nothing that would lead a casual reader to believe that there was anything out of the ordinary about it. However, he soon began to drop hints about his access to classified information.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): Hypothetical question: if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time - say, eight to nine months - and you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC, what would you do? Things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Adrian Lamo says Bradley Manning sensationally confessed that he had passed vast amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks - including a war log from Iraq, containing 400,000 events.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): Let's just say someone I know intimately well has been penetrating US classified networks, mining data like the ones described. Sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy-white haired Aussie who can't seem to stay in one country very long. Crazy white haired dude equals Julian Assange.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: According to the records of these chats, Private Manning saw his own connection with WikiLeaks as significant.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): I'm a source, not quite a volunteer. I mean, I'm a high profile source… and I've developed a relationship with Assange.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Adrian Lamo says a moment came when he decided he had to act.
ADRIAN LAMO: For me, the precise moment at which I felt that what Bradley Manning was doing was a danger to national security and to the lives of others was when he characterised one of his leaks as being in excess of a quarter of a million state department documents.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): Say... 260,000 State Department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective?
ADRIAN LAMO: I knew for a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he could not possibly have vetted all of these documents himself for safety. It was simply being released in bulk to an unauthorised third party - a third party that had an unknown agenda, and this was of course a conduct that he was going to continue to engage in unless interdicted.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Adrian Lamo says he kept a record of the alleged confessions made by the 22 year-old soldier in Iraq. And when he tipped off military intelligence, it was like a scene from a spy thriller.
ADRIAN LAMO: As any good crime movie will tell you, I met them at a diner. The meetings were ultimately multi-jurisdictional and at points involving individuals from the FBI, Army Counter Intelligence, the Army Criminal Investigation Division, the National Security Agency and other entities. I did not expect them to immediately arrest Mr Manning, but they determined that that was the best course of action and that is what happened.
KEVIN POULSON, SENIOR EDITOR, WIRED: So the magazine's actually been around since the early 1990's, before there even was a web.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: In an equally sensational move, Adrian Lamo then offered his story and the alleged chat-logs to Kevin Poulsen at Wired magazine in San Francisco. The two men met at this coffee-shop, near Sacramento.
KEVIN POULSON: I finally met up with Adrian in Sacramento at the Starbucks. He finally got his laptop working, he finally got the logs on his screen, and I was able to start skimming through what he had there. It kind of started to dawn on me, maybe this is real, maybe this actually turned in... turned in WikiLeaks' most important whistleblower.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Adrian Lamo says he gave the story to Kevin Poulsen as insurance, in case something happened to him.
ADRIAN LAMO: I discussed with Kevin my interaction with government agents up to that point. I provided him with a copy of the logs for safekeeping, and at that point I went on to meet with government agents. I myself did not know if I was necessarily going to be coming back from that meeting or if they would want to hold on to me for some unknown reason based on the information that I already had in my possession.
KEVIN POULSON: It was on the drive back from Sacramento where I found myself wondering if I was gonna be stopped on the Bay Bridge, by the Feds saying, "Hey, you have something of ours." I mean, that... that... I began to think that this was actually a big story.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: In the weeks following Private Bradley Manning's arrest, an even bigger story was building. Julian Assange by now was a wanted man, as he circled the globe with the treasure-trove of documents he had allegedly received from Private Manning. In conditions of great secrecy, Assange did a deal with two of the world's major newspapers, the New York Times and The Guardian.
ALAN RUSBRIDGER, EDITOR, THE GUARDIAN: There was a lot of cloak and dagger about it, because he was I think... and probably the most hunted man on earth at that point because of what he had, and it it sounded extraordinary and when I, when he first came back with his sort of password and we opened up the website, and this was just the first tranche - so this was just the first set of war logs - you could immediately see that this was you know of tremendous significance and was going to make an awful lot of people in governments really unhappy.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: What Assange had given The Guardian was the Afghan War Diary - a vast compilation of army reports from the war, stretching back to 2004.
JULIAN ASSANGE (2010): This disclosure is about the truth...
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: In October 2010, the Iraq War Logs were published, detailing allegations of torture by the Iraqi Federal Police, and complicity in that torture by the US Armed Forces in Iraq.
JULIAN ASSANGE (2010): And this is a list of reports with key words and contacts...
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The logs revealed the military's own inside story of the wars, and for the journalists charged with sifting through the documents, it was a God-given gift.
DEAN BAQUET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES: The greatest story, to my mind, of this era for a journalist is the way - at least in the West, at least for the US - is the way September 11th has transformed American foreign policy. Not only in the ways that are very noticeable - the the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - but in other ways too. And suddenly as journalists who've had to rely on third hand, fourth hand you know late night interviews with people who knew pieces of this, we had the whole - so we were elated, of course we were.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The publication of the Afghan and Iraqi war logs made Julian Assange a global celebrity. But while Assange was feted, Private Bradley Manning languished in a military cell. The soldier, on his arrest, had been charged with leaking more than fifty diplomatic cables to a person outside the Army. But the authorities who had Adrian Lamo's version of the chat-logs believed he had passed on 260,000 cables.
CHRIS ANDERSON, TED: There's been this US intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, and it's alleged that he confessed in a chat-room that he leaked this video to you, along with 280,000 classified US Embassy cables. I mean, did he?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well we have denied receiving those cables. He has been charged about five days ago with obtaining 150,000 cables and releasing fifty.
CHRIS ANDERSON: I mean if you did receive thousands of US Embassy diplomatic cables...
JULIAN ASSANGE: We would have released them.
CHRIS ANDERSON: You would?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: In fact, the cables were already in Assange's possession, and four months later, they were published in The Guardian and New York Times.
Just how seriously the US Administration viewed this massive leak became clear when Dean Baquet and his colleagues approached the White House to discuss redacting the cables before they were published, to ensure no lives were endangered.
DEAN BAQUET: We walked in with some cable, just to show them what we had. And we walking in expecting, you know, maybe two or three people from the government, and it was a packed conference room of people from the Defence Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the White House - and it was a tense discussion, it was very tense. Initially it was the... they were making the argument that we these are not things that should be made public. There were people in the room who said this would have a devastating impact on foreign policy. And we made the argument back for why we felt obliged to publish.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Within WikiLeaks itself, there was also fierce debate about whether it was in Bradley Manning's best interests to publish the cables.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: If the cables had not been published, there would've been no proof that anyone had given the material to a different entity. So from my perspective, whatever would've... should've happened with these cables, for the sake of Bradley Manning, would've been to just keep them back as long as possible, until you find out what is happening with him, before you publish them.
JULIAN ASSANGE: We were concerned as to how that would possibly play into his case. We saw that his charges only included some of 50 cables and so we were not sure whether that is related to the material that we've released, but we could see that extra accusations would probably be made against him given that he was the only name being floated around by the US Military.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: After the cables were published, Private Manning was charged with 22 offences - including the charge of aiding the enemy, a capital offence. Military prosecutors say they will not seek the death penalty. But if convicted, the private faces life imprisonment.
Julian Assange insists the technology used by WikiLeaks prevents it knowing the identity of its sources.
JULIAN ASSANGE (2010): I had never heard the name Bradley Manning before I saw media reports about this.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: If Adrian Lamo's chat-logs are genuine, Bradley Manning believed his contact at WikiLeaks was Assange. But according to Daniel Domscheit-Berg, it's quite plausible that Assange didn't know the soldier's identity.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT BERG: They could've talked without exchanging their names, or Bradley Manning wouldn't have necessarily told Julian his name.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and finds an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format to the public.
HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE (Nov. 2010): The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts peoples' lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: What has angered the United States Government more than anything is the wholesale leaking of the State Department's diplomatic cables. Opinions differ as to how much damage this has done.
JOHN BELLINGER, FORMER LEGAL ADVISOR, US DEPT OF STATE: The government overall is is is horrified. This is sort of the worst crisis in release of leaks of government documents I think in history, and for the State Department it's really almost apocalyptic to have 250,000 cables lost. It affects our relations with every country in the world and puts sources of information - not only government sources but human rights activists and dissidents and others - at great risk.
ALAN RUSBRIDGER: I think the interesting thing is that nobody at the end of it can really point to any danger. I mean everyone was saying that the sky was going to fall in; that that people would be killed; that states would never be able to speak; but none of that happened and now in fact the State Department is tacitly admitting that that actually they can't point to any harm.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Ironically, this gigantic leak of diplomatic cables was only made possible by the US Government's decision post-9/11, to bring in a policy of greater information sharing in the wake of the intelligence failures that allowed Al Qaeda's attacks to occur. The new strategy meant that a lowly private stationed in Iraq was able to access enormous databases of secret and classified material. That policy was called Net-Centric Diplomacy.
KEVIN POULSON: Net-Centric Diplomacy put the bulk of US state department cables on the military's private intranet, its classified network called SIPRNet, where it could be accessed by hundreds of thousands of people in the US and at foreign bases and posts. And that... that is what Manning apparently took advantage of.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Given this unparalleled access, Private Manning is believed to have breached security on the SIPRNet computer with almost farcical ease. Lady Gaga played a starring role, according to the chat-logs, as Manning downloaded a quarter of a million diplomatic cables.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like Lady Gaga, erase the music, then write a compressed split file. No-one suspected a thing. Listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga's "Telephone" while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Private Manning's brief Army career had been a troubled one. He'd been disciplined more than once, and appears to have been suffering great emotional stress. But he says the turning point for him came when he watched a group of detainees he'd been told to investigate, being taken by the Iraqi Federal Police - almost certainly, to be tortured.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): Everything started slipping after that. I saw things differently. Ihad always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth, but that was a point where I was a part of something; I was actively involved in something that i was completely against.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: What we've heard from the people he unburdened himself to, Adrian Lamo, in the chat logs, was that his motives sound exactly like mine. He said, "I was actively participating in something I was totally against."
(speaking at library in San Francisco) Why is the Obama administration so particularly sensitive about these releases?
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Daniel Ellsberg is Bradley Manning's most prominent American supporter - and America's most famous whistleblower. Forty years ago he leaked the Pentagon Papers - revealing the duplicity with which successive American Presidents had waged the war in Vietnam. But by leaking them, like Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg risked being sent to jail for life.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: In my case, it was when I finally came to see, late in the game, in 1969, when I looked at the origins of the war in the Pentagon Papers, and realised that it had never been legitimate, that it had never been a a legitimate basis for our killing Vietnamese, that I began to see all that killing as murder. And murder, it seemed to me, was something that had to be stopped, even if it put me in prison to do it. I would say that Bradley Manning has shown a willingness to give his life, his freedom, a life of freedom, for his country. And we can't be more patriotic than that.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Daniel Domscheit-Berg fell out with Julian Assange and left WikiLeaks on acrimonious terms. He believes that taking on the US was always Julian Assange's priority.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: I think um he was aiming at taking up the biggest fight possible, and that fight was by taking up a fight against the United States maybe in that case, as the biggest political player in the sphere. And that has some megalomaniac tendencies.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Is that your ultimate aim now to radically change the behaviour of the world's superpowers?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes that that that's correct. We all we are all too well aware of the abuses by not just superpowers, but other powers and by companies.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: So are you a revolutionary?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well we'll see if if we end up with a decent revolution, then perhaps others can make that judgment.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Stephen Yates is a former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. He wants the United States to hit back hard against Private Manning and Julian Assange.
STEPHEN YATES, FMR ADVISOR TO VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I consider it to be an act of political warfare. The acts appear to have been done by some US citizens, including a member of the US military who is subject to all the penalties attached to that office, but others have been foreign nationals, and when foreign nationals gather illegal, classified information and disclose it to try to influence US policy, that is espionage.
JOHN BELLINGER: The US Government's challenge in this case will be to show that what Mr Assange was doing was not classic journalism and press but in fact really theft of government property in a way that's not protected by the first amendment.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: To date, there is no clear evidence that Julian Assange helped Bradley Manning extract the files - although military prosecutors say they have records of online chats between Manning and Assange, in which Manning asked for help in cracking the main password on his classified SIPRNet computer, so that he could log on anonymously. Adrian Lamo says Bradley Manning did receive help - but he isn't saying from whom.
ADRIAN LAMO: A third party with whom I had interaction subsequent to my interactions with Bradley Manning indicated that they gave Bradley Manning assistance in setting up encryption software, but that that in and of itself is not a criminal act.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Who is that third party?
ADRIAN LAMO: Well, they're a private citizen and I would hesitate to draw undue attention on to them because in this case the good of the one does outweigh the the good of the many.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: Lots of people were coming and asking how they could upload material to us. That's... you could tell them how to safely use a computer and maybe how to encrypt information, so that certainly was done. But I think that is... that is pretty much valid. That's the same thing as a journalist would tell you, um that you shouldn't write your sender's address on a brown envelope, or something like this.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Adrian Lamo's word appears to have been accepted by the military investigators who arrested Private Manning. But within the hacker community he hails from, he is treated with far greater scepticism.
KEVIN POULSON: In the early 2000s he hacked large corporations and a couple of media outlets, including the New York Times. And unlike most computer criminals, he was very public about it.
KEVIN MITNICK, MITNICK SECURITY CONSULTING: Adrian is is a a kind of guy that loves attention, and he loves to read about himself in in newspaper articles and magazines and online blogs, and it seems that he goes out of his way... even subjecting himself to Federal prosecution by... he used to do this, you know, break into computer systems and go to the press and tell them about it so they could write about it and it would be available on the internet.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Kevin Mitnick is himself a former computer felon. He is also a friend of Kevin Poulsen and Adrian Lamo.
KEVIN MITNICK: I call into question the authenticity of those chat logs. Because I know this personality, then I call into question well if he is the sole person that had access to these chat logs, could've he modified them so he would have a great story to tell, so he would attention, I don't know. It's, you know, it's really hard to come up with the answer because I simply do not know.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: But you think it's possible?
KEVIN MITNICK: Oh absolutely possible.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Did you modify the chat logs in any way?
ADRIAN LAMO: Absolutely not. The chat logs were vouched for in a sworn deposition which I gave under penalty of perjury and every line remains as it was spoken.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Doubt has also been cast on Adrian Lamo's state of mind when he says, he was chatting with Bradley Manning.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Mr Lamo is a convicted felon, who just three weeks before making these statements was in a psychiatric hospital. Wired Magazine worked with that individual to bring out that story. I have no idea as to how credible that story is, but certainly it comes from a a source which has no credibility at all.
ADRIAN LAMO: Mr Assange is certainly entitled to his opinions. I make no denials about the fact that I am a convicted felon or that I have spent time in a psychiatric institution for Asperger's syndrome - a syndrome, which I should add, does not affect the ability of its sufferers to recall facts. I should note that Mr Assange is also a convicted computer criminal, so we have that in common. Perhaps one day we can get together over beer and discuss it.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: For eleven months following his arrest, Bradley Manning remained in solitary confinement, first in Kuwait, and then in a cell measuring six feet by twelve inside this U.S. Marine Corps Base outside Washington.
DAVID HOUSE: From meeting with Bradley, from getting to know him and from watching his state degrade over time, the only conclusion I can reach is that this is torture.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: David House is a computer researcher at MIT - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He first met Bradley Manning at a hacker space he'd founded in Boston, and for months was the only friend allowed to visit him at Quantico.
DAVID HOUSE: It was completely alarming this transition that had happened to him. He was ashen-faced, had huge bags under his eyes and he had trouble keeping up with topics of conversation - something that had never been a problem for him. So it's... this confinement this solitary confinement has really taken a huge toll on him definitely.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: At Quantico Marine Corps base, Bradley Manning was held in conditions which - his supporters argued - were designed to break him and lead him to co-operate in building a case against Julian Assange.
JULIAN ASSANGE: If the allegations against Bradley Manning are true, he is a the United States' foremost political prisoner. The increase in the severity of his treatment, according to my legal advice, is an attempt to pressure him into trying to embroil us in some sort of espionage-related challenge.
KEVIN MITNICK: I was held in solitary confinement back in 1988, 1989 by the federal government as a national security threat because a federal prosecutor had told a Judge that I could, "whistle into a telephone and launch a nuclear weapon."
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Kevin Mitnick is another former hacker who fell foul of the law. He is under no illusions as to why he was held in solitary confinement - and what effect it had on his case.
KEVIN MITNICK: What the government did is they stuck me in solitary confinement to one, punish me and two, get get me to co-operate so they wouldn't have to really try the case. And it was extremely effective and after 8½ months of sitting in a room for 23 out of 24 hours a day, I just signed the deal.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: So they want him to do a deal? They want him to turn the tables on Julian Assange?
DAVID HOUSE: I think that's completely correct. It's like a sledge hammer trying to crack a very small nut. The US Government is just trying to put immense pressure on him in order to get him to crack open.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Méndez, is one of those who has expressed concern about the conditions in which Private Manning was imprisoned at Quantico.
As a young man, Juan Méndez worked as a lawyer in Argentina, defending political prisoners.
JUAN MÉNDEZ, UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TORTURE (2011): I complained of cases of torture, and eventually during the military dictatorship I was arrested, tortured, and held in prison for 18 months without trial under administrative detention under the state of siege.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: When Four Corners filmed this interview with Mr Méndez last year, Private Manning had been held in solitary confinement for 230 days.
JUAN MÉNDEZ (2011): Solitary confinement is an area that concerns me. It's like a red flag, you know and solitary confinement has been proven extensively in the scientific literature to create all kinds of very serious psychiatric consequences for the person whose subjected to it.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: For a period during his imprisonment at Quantico, Private Manning was stripped of his clothing and forced to stand naked for morning inspections.
In March this year, Juan Méndez said Private Manning had been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during his "excessive and prolonged isolation" at Quantico.
JUAN MÉNDEZ: I want to stress the fact that the Torture Convention, the UN convention against torture to which the United States is a signatory and is a party, establishes that torture can be physical but it can also be psychological.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The pressure applied by US Intelligence agencies, not just to Bradley Manning, but to supporters like David House, has been intense.
DAVID HOUSE: I think the US Government is trying to take down the WikiLeaks organisation at all costs, and they are willing to embroil any individuals who get in their way, legitimate legal advocates or not. in order to do so.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Two years ago, Federal agents came knocking on David House's front door.
DAVID HOUSE: At one point in this conversation one of the gentleman said flatly whilst staring me directly in the eyes, "If you can keep your ear to the ground on this thing there might be a very large cash reward in it for you." It's very alarming. I mean I didn't think the US Government offered bribes to people.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: But not all agents in this war of secrecy are working for the US Government.
X, HACKTIVIST: I don't like being in this particular city, being that's where all the federal people are who would love to know who I am. I'm actually kind of terrified right now.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: When Four Corners visited Washington in January last year, this American hacktivist emerged from the shadows to meet us. He was working with AnonOps - the operational core of the worldwide group Anonymous.
X: If we have been identified and they decide to take action against us, they're gonna attempt to silence this, and the story might not ever get out.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: The story is how, in December 2010, nearly eight thousand hackers launched a denial of service attack on some of America's biggest corporations, including Visa, Mastercard and Paypal, which were refusing to process donations to WikiLeaks. Operation Payback, as it was known, was organised by a small core group, which included this man.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: What motivates you, what drives you to do what you do?
X: I guess, interest in freedom, I know it sounds kind of trite, but it is. It's a belief that all information should be free, regardless of where it comes from, or regardless of who wants to see it. Nobody should be able to control who gets to see what.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Since our interview with this man was filmed, his fears have turned out to be justified. He is believed to have been arrested, along with other hacktivists in America and Europe. However, playing his part in this cyber-war was a risk he was prepared to take.
X: It's definitely a risk. For some of us it's the biggest risk we've ever taken in our lives, but for those of us that have been in it this long, we believed in what needed to be done, so we did it.
BRADLEY MANNING: Hi, you've reached Brad Manning at my deployment phone number...
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: This is the only known recording of Bradley Manning's voice, taped when on deployment to Baghdad.
BRADLEY MANNING: ...please leave a message or call me back later. Thank you.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: It's the voice of a man who, following his arrest, has now been silenced by the American military. Bradley Manning's fate is now extremely uncertain. He has been moved from solitary confinement at Quantico to another military base. He faces a full court martial later this year, and if convicted, could spend the rest of his life in prison. So far he has steadfastly refused to implicate Julian Assange - even though to do so could lead to a reduction in his sentence.
BOB BECKEL, FOX NEWS BUSINESS COMMENTATOR: This guy's a traitor, a treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. The guy oughta be - and I'm not for the death penalty, so if I'm not for the death penalty - there's only one way to do it, illegally shoot the son-of-a-bitch.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: On America's Fox TV the right wing commentators don't hold back in discussing Julian Assange's future.
FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: Obama, if you're listening today, you should take this guy out, have the CIA take him out.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: Even within the more politically considered circles of Washington, there is a firm commitment to nail Julian Assange.
STEPHEN YATES: We may need to detain Mr Assange if he will not cease and desist from further disclosures. That's his choice. If he will not cease, then I think that we may have to consider extra-judicial measures in order to detain him and stop him from proceeding.
JOHN BELLINGER: He would not be sent to Guantanamo, ah he would not be treated as an enemy combatant. If he were charged he'd be, he would be charged under federal criminal statutes, prosecuted in federal court, and if he were ultimately convicted, would be held in a a federal penitentiary.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: This Washington courthouse is where, it's believed, a Grand Jury has been sitting in secret, preparing a sealed indictment against Julian Assange, which will allow his extradition to America, and a trial for espionage. Australia's Government refuses to confirm this.
JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: At this stage we do not have any advice from the United States that there is an indictment against Mr Assange or that the United States has decided to seek his extradition.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: But evidence that an indictment may have been issued comes - ironically - from confidential emails hacked into by members of Anonymous, and published by WikiLeaks. The emails were written by staff at the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, who have close ties with the US administration.
FRED BURTON, VICE PRESIDENT OF INTELLIGENCE, STRATFOR: I'm Fred Burton, Stratfor's Vice President of Intelligence. As you may know by now, an unauthorised party illegally obtained and disclosed personal information...
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: This email, from Stratfor's Vice-President Fred Burton, says: "Not for publication - We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Please protect." Stratfor now claims this intelligence is unreliable.
Some time soon, almost certainly, Julian Assange will be extradited - not to America, but to Sweden - to be questioned there about allegations of sexual assault. For Assange, any trial in America could be years away. But Private Manning's trial is imminent.
The soldier's accusers say he betrayed his country, and the oath of allegiance he swore when he joined the Army. But in Europe he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. To his supporters, Private Manning is a hero.
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG: All the fame and all this hype about WikiLeaks and Julian and Julian's problems in Sweden - I mean what are these problems in Sweden compared to the trouble that this private is in? I mean this person who potentially is, I think, one of the biggest heroes for freedom of information in our time - so how does that relate? There's not... no relation in between these two things anymore. So that's what I don't get. Everyone should be talking about Manning and not about about Julian's trouble iin Sweden or in Great Britain or wherever.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. If not, than we're doomed as a species. I will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: One thing is for sure. Julian Assange's fate is inextricably linked with Bradley Manning's. And the two men, whether they ever collaborated directly or not, share a common idealism.
BRADLEY MANNING (voiceover): I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are, because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
JULIAN ASSANGE: That truth provides an historical scaffold, a true scaffold on which a real state can be built, on which societies can be built.
QUENTIN MCDERMOTT: If he could speak from his cell to the rest of the world, what would he say now?
DAVID HOUSE: Pay attention.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Bradley Manning's trial may not now start until November, but Julian Assange could be in Sweden before the month is out, to face a totally different investigation, unless he decides to appeal his extradition to the European Court of Human Rights. That would be the last resort in his legal campaign to stay in Britain.
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