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HOPE Hackers Tough on Lamo

HOPE Hackers Tough on Lamo

July 18, 2010 | New York City | by John Draper

| | | | | | It’s the 8th annual HOPE convention where hackers have gathered from around the world. I was able to interview Adrian Lamo yesterday on camera while surrounded by heavy security. It was rather nerve-wracking. Adrian Lamo, if you don’t already know, is at the center of an international controversy involving the hacker community, Wikileaks, the CIA, the U.S. military, and the Pentagon.

I am writing this article on my iPhone. Right now I am in a very hot and most interesting session here at HOPE. I’m in a session about “Informants: Villains and Heroes” and in this photo you can see a panel of notable hackers:  Kevin Mitnick, Emmanuel Goldstein, Bernie S., Phiber Optik, and then of course, Adrian Lamo appearing on the big screen.  As usual, the crowd loved Mitnick. The group was also wowed by Emmanuel Goldstein, Bernie S and Phiber Optik. But when Adrian went on stage, there was a lot of booing and hissing.

Background: Adrian Lamo was communicating with an Army intelligence specialist named Bradley Manning who admitted he released the “Collateral Murder” video of American Apache Copters killing journalists. He released it to Wikileaks, and along with that, he allegedly admitted he released hundreds of thousands of classified documents from the U.S. Army and Pentagon. At this point Lamo was concerned that the information in those cables would compromise national security and put more lives at stake.  As a speaker on the panel, he talked about this, about Wikileaks and how he and why he busted Bradley Manning. It was not well-received. The booing and hissing by this crowd was pretty bad. Phiber came right out and hit Lamo up with “Why did you do it?” This resulted in lots of discussion for and against Lamo.

Adrian Lamo at HOPE being interviewed by a journalist

To say that some people are angry with him is an understatement. Yet Lamo somehow seems to be holding his own under the pressure. He is confident that he did the right thing and that if others knew what he knew, they would agree. Many hackers doubt it.

While some think he did the right thing, he does not have much support here in this conference at this time. Yesterday seemed better. Today the consensus seems to be that Adrian Lamo committed a violation of hacker culture by turning a fellow hacker, Bradley Manning, in to authorities. Did he do the right thing or the wrong thing? Only time will tell.  Needless to say, it’s very tense here. The security is tight, and for once I am happy to see orange security shirts everywhere.  I’ll keep you posted.

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