Lady Gaga, WikiLeaks and :'(
Washington has been buzzing for days about Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst at the heart of the investigation into the leak of a quarter-million State Department diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
And then there’s the Lady Gaga connection.
Manning said he listened to the flamboyantly-dressed singer’s “Telephone” as he pulled the documents off a military server in Baghdad, according to a transcript of online chats Manning had with a former hacker, Adrian Lamo. The chats, which occurred earlier this year, were posted by Wired.com on June 10. Lamo confirmed details of the chats to Reuters.
“i would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file … no-one suspected a thing. listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in american history,” Manning wrote in the uncapitalized, lightly punctuated style of a webchat.
“pretty simple, and unglamorous … weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis … a perfect storm”
“funny thing is … we transferred so much data on unmarked CDs … everyone did … videos … movies … music … all out in the open”
For those who ask, reasonably enough, how an Army private apparently got access to this kind of government data, this looks like one possible answer.
Beyond the Gaga link, the transcript offers a picture of a lonely, unappreciated person, who several times used a teary-faced emoticon :'( to signal how he felt.
“i cant believe what im confessing to you :'( i’ve been isolated so long … i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life … but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive … smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything … no-one took any notice of me :'(”
When he wasn’t at the computer, Manning was doing various chores that seem far outside the Iraq war zone:
“ran a barbecue … but no-one showed up … threw a lot of food away”
“regularly ignored … except when i had something essential … then it was back to ‘bring me coffee, then sweep the floor'”
“im not sure whether i’d be considered a type of ‘hacker’, ‘cracker’, ‘hacktivist’, ‘leaker’ or what … im just me … really”
A far cry from the outrageous, dress-to-be-noticed Lady Gaga.
Photo credits: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh (U.S. pop singer Lady Gaga performs on stage during her concert in Budapest November 7, 2010)
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (A woman reads U.S. newspaper front pages about the latest Wikileaks document release outside the Newseum in Washington November 29, 2010)