July 26, 2010 — -- The Army specialist allegedly behind one of the most massive intelligence breaches in U.S. history likely did not act alone, according to the man the soldier approached to publicize the more than 90,000 reports of classified information.
"I do not believe Private Manning had the technical expertise necessary to communicate this amount of information to the outside world without being detected and I don't believe that he operated without guidance," computer hacker Adrian Lamo told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview today.
Lamo said he was contacted by someone calling themselves Bradass87 -- believed to be specialist Brad Manning -- last May who claimed to be an Army intelligence analyst with access to classified networks that showed "incredible things, awful things... that belong in the public domain."
Lamo turned the online conversations over to Pentagon investigators, but separately Manning apparently made the same pitch to Wikileaks.org founder Julian Assange. After weeks of combing through the reports, Wikileaks posted the documents online Sunday, sending shockwaves through the American and Afghanistan military and intelligence circles.
In an interview with ABC News, Assange would not confirm that Manning was the source of the extensive material and said, "we still don't know who the source is." If it was Manning, however, Assange said, "He's a hero."
Manning was arrested outside Baghdad on May 26 and is currently in a military prison. A White House official told ABC News no one else is being investigated for the document theft.
The more than 90,000 reports published online reveal six years of classified information, offering a blunt and dire view of American military efforts in Afghanistan.
The "war logs" offer startling detail about everything from civilian casualties to enemy missile strikes. They also reveal detailed reports that Pakistan's military spy agency, ISI, is guiding the very insurgent network in Afghanistan that the Americans are trying to defeat, despite the billions of dollars the U.S. is giving the Pakistan in aid -- including an additional $500 million Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last week.
"What this does is it gets right down to the soldier level in many ways," New York Times reporter Eric Schmidt, who previewed the documents weeks before their publication, told "GMA" today. "These are raw intelligence reports being filed by commanders on the ground, intelligence analysts, as events are breaking whether they be firefights, drone attacks, secret commando operations. And what it does I think is it fills in a very detailed picture, more so than ever before, of some of the events that are going on on the ground."
According to the documents, witnesses report the Taliban has used heat-seeking missiles against aircraft, something American officials have never acknowledged. Secret commando raids -- like those made by the secretive Task Force 373 -- have been increased under the Obama administration, but despite successes, these leaks now reveal some "high value" targets have not been there when the U.S. was striking. Instead, children have been killed in some instances.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the reports for U.S. officials are those which strongly suggest the ISI was double crossing the U.S. Last year, a report suggested that the former head of ISI was encouraging insurgents to focus their operations in Afghanistan "in exchange for the government of Pakistan's security forces turning a blind eye" to insurgents in Pakistan.
"While we and others have reported on this in broad themes over the past couple of years, the reports are voluminous. Even if you toss out ones that are perhaps disinformation or the bias of the Afghan intelligence service, they are generally consistent with other classified reporting by American intelligence analysts that the ISI still does have connections with many of these groups that are conducting attacks in Afghanistan," Schmidt said.
Speaking on the condition on anonymity, a senior ISI official told ABC News today the documents amounted to "the usual rhetoric and nothing new.
"It seems to be all rubbish and maybe not worth commenting," the official said, emphasizing that the agency was still shifting through the documents.
White House Condemns 'Irresponsible' Disclosure
In response to the leak, White House issued a statement from National Security advisor Gen. James Jones condemning the "disclosure" which "could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk" but saying their release will not change America's course in the region.
"These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people," Jones said in the statement.
Assange told the British newspaper The Guardian why he chose to make the documents public.
"In this case it will show the true nature of this war and then the public from Afghanistan and other nations can see what is really going on and can take steps to address the problems," he said.
A spokesman for Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said today the Afghan government has had concerns about the ISI involvement and said "measures have to be taken" for bringing the number of civilian casualties down.
Assange still has yet to release another 15,000 documents, Schmidt said. Schmidt told "Good Morning America" great effort was taken to work with the White House on the newspaper's report not to put any soldiers in harm's way.
CLICK HERE to see the New York Times' report.
ABC News' Nick Schifrin and Jim Scuitto contributed to this report.