July 26, 2010 — -- In his Army dress greens, Pvt. Bradley Manning looks like most of his fellow soldiers; but beneath the uniform, many suspect, is a man who may be responsible for the leaking of over 90,000 secret military reports to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Manning was stationed at a base 40 miles east of Baghdad, at Forward Operating Base Hammer. Manning, who enlisted in the Army in 2007, was working as an Army intelligence analyst, pouring through classified information. What he saw with his clearance level, it is believed, left him disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy.
The twenty-two year old Manning went online to find someone who would listen. He tracked down a former computer hacker in Sacramento, California named Adrian Lamo. Manning read an article in Wired, a magazine on the technology world, that featured Lamo and thought he would be a kindred spirit.
Manning allegedly asked Lamo, "If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, seven days a week for eight plus months, what would you do?"
Authorities believe Manning had already done plenty.
In online chats and e-mail conversations, Manning allegedly took credit for leaking video of a 2007 Army helicopter strike in Baghdad to Wikileaks. The strike resulted in the death of innocent civilians including two Reuters employees and an unarmed Baghdad man. The video's release in April caused a media storm.
Manning allegedly said that he had discovered "incredible, awful things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C."
The young soldier wrote of how he downloaded the classified information.
"I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like 'Lady Gaga'," he told Lamo.
While pretending to sing along to Lady Gaga's hit "Telephone," Manning would actually be erasing the music from the CD and recording intelligence onto it instead.
Lamo says weak computer security let the disgruntled soldier copy confidential military reports that would soon be part of one of the greatest leaks of government information in 40 years.
Pvt. Bradley Manning Allegedly Saw 250,000 Classified Embassy Cables
ABC News talked with Lamo, the hacker on the other end of the online conversations with Manning.
"Yes, that is how he would do it," Lamo said. "Faking he was listening to Gaga."
During all of this, Manning also wrote to Lamo of feeling socially isolated and at times, getting in trouble with his supervisors as he questioned the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lamo said he grew increasingly alarmed. When Manning claimed to have a quarter million classified embassy cables, Lamo went to the FBI fearing that the soldier's leaks could put lives at risk.
"Had I not acted, I would have always wondered, had I gotten someone killed," Lamo said.
Manning was arrested in May of this year and is being held in Kuwait. He has been charged with releasing classified information.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assangeto refuses to confirm Manning's involvment in the massive leak.