We've covered a lot of ground today regarding Wikileaks. I've brought you more from X and introduced you to Y, and in the end we asked some important questions, mainly, how is it possible for PFC Bradley Manning to have downloaded and leaked State Department cables? According to two sources who have written to me (X and Y), it isn't. And I've been open with you about how those sources and their first-hand information have led to some major questions in my mind.
Many of you have e-mailed me and said you too are questioning. And to those who have offered other explanations, know that I am "checking" them out. In that spirit, I want to bring you two stories I've read today as I continue my research that I think are important to consider.
First, an article from the Federal Times.
Today, the FT reveals that in addition to SIPRNet PFC Manning also had access to "the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, used by both departments [Defense and State] for top secret and SCI — sensitive compartmented information — communications."
That seems to me to be important, and I'm checking with my sources to see if that changes things. I'm not sure, but it might.
Second, there's a piece of information in the LA Times that also seems relevant. The Times reports that intelligence rules were "different" in Baghdad where Manning was stationed:
Normally, Pentagon officials say, workstations attached to SIPRNet do not allow for the physical removal of data. But the rules were different in war zones, officials said. Since the leak, the Pentagon has imposed a series of rules to close that gap.
Now that's interesting.
Could both pieces of information explain how the "impossible" was possible? Maybe. The access to another joint database might explain how Manning, an Army analyst, got access to State Department cables. And the "different rules" in Baghdad might explain the lapse in security that allowed Manning to smuggle out that data. I've presented the information to X and Y and am eagerly awaiting their thoughts.
As I do, let me be clear that we are all taking a journey together. I have not drawn any definitive conclusions, and I encourage you to withhold judgment as we continue uncovering information. And if in the end all we end up with are questions, we'll continue questioning with boldness.
With that said, I did find something else interesting in the LA Times article. Despite the supposed "different" rules in Baghdad for Manning and intelligence officials, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is still wondering why a lowly private had access to reports of conversations between top U.S. officials and heads of state.
"How can it be that between 500,000 and potentially over a million government employees have access to a database of sensitive State Department cables?" the Times quotes him as asking.
Now that's a great (and familiar) question. Et tu, Hoekstra? Et tu?