Transcripts: Adrian Lamo during HOPE panel

Lamo is speaking. Others are indicated by [     ]


I have been a longtime supporter of wikileaks and I am to this day – I think they should continue to go forward and focus on oppressive regimes throughout the world


is anyone in this room being oppressed right now

[yeah! fuck yeah!]

[what I’m hearing you say has a lot of america-centrism – you seem to think that american lives are worth more than those abroad]

I haven’t said that abroad – there may have been war criminals involved, those being the helicopter pilots – I wasn’t there, I can’t say for sure, but there was apparently an investigation going on, based on the fact that the video was found on the computer of an officer in the judicial branch of the military – and that investigation may have been compromised – so if anything I’m saying that

[why are the lives of Americans privileged over those we’re taking every day in Iraq]

because those are the lives that I have the opportunity to try and affect positively


I’m not in Afghanistan, I’m not shooting at people that are in their own hearts and minds trying to follow their own conscience – there’s a good quote, who’s a little league umpire, uses – ok, I appreciate your input, but what did you see from where I was standing – and generally speaking, not a damn thing because they were in the bleachers

[problem is – I’m from Europe, I don’t give a shit about teh US government, and I don’t give a shit about my government because nation states… we’re a community of hackers, we’re internationalists, and we work together and cooperate – I might sound naive, but you should focus on an international point of view, and not always root for the united states]

I don’t support every action that the US takes – and that’s my right as a citizen of this country to do. And in a lot of countries that would get you a bullet to the head

[applause – smattering]

I’m an American citizen, my dad’s dual national, I’ve lived overseas, but we’re sitting in a hotel that, last time I checked, was located in the USA, that has afforded us the opportunity to have this conference even though a lot of people in the government don’t really understand what we’re about, they see us as a threat, and despite that we have the freedom to hold this conference and have talks about things that to the uninformed would sound threatening. And that’s not something that you get in a lot of places. So I think that’s pretty darned cool to have that opportunity in this country

[applause – smattering…]

[it seems to me that you might have been culpable too if there was an investigation, because he was chatting to you – was that part of your thinking?]

I’m not a jurist or an attorney, I’m not a judge – I don’t have the legal background to say whether or not that would be the case. My first reaction was holy fracking crap, 260,000 documents, do you think you could go through those and say they’re not going to cause any lives to be lost, or compromise our ability to make the world a better place, which we do in a lot of ways – we provide aid to a lot of countries – we also make the world a worse place in some ways, but we’re not a perfect nation.

[was your definition influenced by your potential risk or liability – that you might be liable if you didn’t divulge what you learned]

it’s easy to get a rise out of the audience by saying, I’m against murder – wooo, who’s with me! But it’s harder to say, I’m for the release of quarter of a million diplomatic documents related to the US citizens – who’s with me!

[big cheer]

[how long has it been since you’ve had an active restraining order against you for abusing your girlfriend. I know your ex.]

I have never been served with a restraining order


[from my perspective, I see what you’ve done as treason]

I wish to hell that Bradley Manning had never said a word to me. It’s been – obviously it’s been a lot worse for him – but it’s certainly been no picnic for me. I knew it would be a low point in my standing in the community

[when he first contacted you, you were not obliged to ever answer]

[why do you think he trusted you – and what do you think about your actions relating to the betrayal of trust]

I’ve elocuted that in terms of betraying his trust, I was a bad friend. I think that he approached me as a friend, not a journalist. When he approached me he shared a lot of things about him that were intensely personal most of which I have kept private because they serve no public interest. They were about how he likes to live his life, how life has elected to take him, and I wish that I still had the full logs but I don’t. I believe that it’s fairly clear to anyone reading them that it was an interaction between someone who perceived the other as a friend and an individual that was trying to figure out what the hell to do

[for someone who believes in peace and freedom and justice and the identities of people, trying to say that someone should not have an identity, they should have their name taken away and not be recognized as a human being because you disagree with their actions, is actually just as bad]


[why didn’t you just do it and not seek any type of media exposure]

Primarily because of the same reason I support wikileaks, because i believe in transparency –


[why did you have to go to WIRED]

why do people here support wikileaks – because they believe in the public’s right to know. I believe that this case, as much as it affects people on the street, who have never even fracking heard of it, they deserve the right to know

ultimately there would have been a press release

[but that would have come later – why go to the media about it]

it’s a good question…

I felt that as a former hacker himself, Kevin could write the story better than someone at the Washington Post or WSJ, no offence to anyone there

[you talk about supporting wikileaks and transparency – this was the first time we might have had real transparency into the war, it might have ended the war, saved lives of people in Iraq and people here – you’re saying you want to prevent people from dying, this is the best way to do it]

I respectfully disagree. If it caused a change, it would not be a positive change in my opinion.

[about the cables, I trust wikileaks judgement about what to and what not to release – I think they have an excellent record – I trust them much more than the government’s judgement – 2ndly it’s pretty clear what’s resulted – Manning is in Kuwait facing charges, ASsange is underground, the release of the cables is in question – and I think we should be clear what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable to do. And you fucked it up huge.]

I respect your opinion, but it’s not actually a

[I’m a Vietnam veteran, I think Manning did the right thing – anyone who thinks the US government is doing the right thing has to be in a mental institution]


[and what you did is worse than treason – I think you belong in Guantanamo]

[oooh… applause]

[your premise is that you’re saving lives by not releasing those documents – I consider that pure speculation – how do you know that not releasing those documents is going to save more lives than releasing them]

I can’t say for certain… I made that decision based on the information I had access to – the portion of the logs that have not been made public and likely will not be. I understand that people will disagree – and I have to live with that choice. I feel bad about the predicament that Manning is in – at 22 I was in shackles for acting on my conscience, I faced 15 years in prison, so I didn’t send him off to some fate that I had no comprehension of

[did you actually see those classified cables, did he show you them]

no he did not –

[so how did you know he had them – he might have been bragging]

he revealed classified information to me in the course of our conversation – and that suggested to me that he would be willing to reveal it to others. It related to ongoing US counterintelligence operations

[do you regret what you did]

I regret not being a better friend to Manning. I wish so much that he told me, I’m planning on doing this, and not, I’ve already done this

[you could have just walked away and none of this would have happened]

I could have, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself

[it’s a difficult subject, most peole thought this wasn’t possible, a civil dialogue, listening to both sides – so thank you for coming through]

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