CARMICHAEL, CA - The notorious computer hacker who alerted authorities to the impending disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents said that despite death threats, he would do it again.
Adrian Lamo, 29, said U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning contacted him in May seeking help in publicizing a massive "war diary" of classified information regarding the war in Afghanistan. Lamo went to the Pentagon instead to report the breach.
The information eventually turned up Sunday on Wikileaks, a website that publishes anonymous submissions of sensitive information.
Lamo's whistleblowing was an ironic position for a man who has had his own problems with the U.S. government following what he called "an act of conscience."
Lamo was convicted in 2003 of hacking into the New York Times computer network and was placed on probation. Lamo said he broke into the Times' network to expose its vulnerability.
Lamo believes Manning discovered him through his previous anti-establishment activity and his support for Wikileaks.
"I support Wikileaks as an institution," Lamo told News10. "I have for a long time. I've donated money to them. I've evangelized for them."
Lamo believes the U.S. government "overclassifies" sensitive documents, but he saw nothing but harm coming from the Wikileaks publishing military intelligence on U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan.
"(Manning) misused a tool that was intended to help protect, defend, save American lives and the lives of really everybody in the coalition," he said.
Lamo said he had been threatened as a result of the disclosure and insisted that News10 not reveal any identifying information that might help locate him.
"There has been a backlash, as I knew there would be. I didn't really expect the raw hatred, the vitriol," he said.
When asked what he would do if faced with the same set of circumstances in the future, Lamo took a moment before replying, "I would do it again."
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net