Soldier leaked Google attack investigation details, hacker says

Hacker Adrian Lamo says the Army analyst who confided to him about leaking air-strike videos and diplomatic cables also told him he leaked details about a U.S. investigation of cyberattacks on Google.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

An Army analyst jailed for allegedly leaking a video of a controversial Iraq air strike also allegedly leaked classified information about a U.S. investigation into cyberattacks on Google that originated in China, the hacker who turned in the analyst told CNET on Saturday.

U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning had confided to well-known hacker Adrian Lamo in e-mails and instant messages that he was the one who provided the 2007 video of a military helicopter gunning down journalists and civilians in Iraq, as well as other information, to whistleblower Web site Wikileaks, Lamo has said.

Adrian Lamo Matthew Griffiths

Along with leaking another video of an attack, in which nearly 200 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2009, and leaking 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, Manning told Lamo that he leaked the code name and details of a government investigation being conducted regarding the attacks on Google, Lamo said.

Lamo said he could not say anything more or risk arrest for disclosing classified information.

The U.S. State Department complained to China about the cyberattacks, which Google announced in January and which helped push Google withdraw its search engine from the Chinese market. More than 30 other companies were targeted in the cybertattacks, which appeared to target source code and, in Google's case, also Gmail accounts of human rights activists. The Chinese government has denied any involvement in the cyberattacks.

Agents from the Army's criminal and counterintelligence units, as well as the Diplomatic Security Service, met with Lamo on Friday night, he said. The agents asked for files related to the communications between him and Manning, Lamo said, and he gave them a laptop and the hard drive from another laptop, as well as encrypted e-mails that had been stored on a remote server. Lamo said he is scheduled to give a sworn statement to authorities on Sunday.

Manning was arrested a few weeks ago, after Lamo went to authorities and told them about the soldier confiding in him. While he praised the leaks of the air strike video, Lamo said he feared that U.S. foreign policy could be compromised and lives put at risk by the other leaks.

Manning remains in custody in Kuwait and, from what Lamo said he has learned, Manning could face charges of espionage and unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

"They're not sure what charges to throw at Manning," Lamo said. "My hope is it's relatively lenient. He's a good soldier with no prior record, and his intentions were good...although his actions were unacceptable and criminal."

Meanwhile, the agents asked questions about Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, Lamo said.

Nothing related to Google and the cyberattacks has so far surfaced on Wikileaks.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday night.

Update, 11:18 a.m. PDT June 13: A State Department representative said on Sunday that the agency had no comment beyond what was said during its daily press briefing on Friday.