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Article posted Aug 02 2010, 2:01 PM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Forbes Print

Stealthy Government Contractor Monitors U.S. Internet Providers, Worked With Wikileaks Informant

by Andy Greenberg
The Firewall, Forbes.com


A semi-secret government contractor that calls itself Project Vigilant surfaced at the Defcon security conference Sunday with a series of revelations: that it monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers, hands much of that information to federal agencies, and encouraged one of its "volunteers," researcher Adrian Lamo, to inform the federal government about the alleged source of a controversial video of civilian deaths in Iraq leaked to whistle-blower site Wikileaks in April.

Chet Uber, the director of Fort Pierce, Fl.-based Project Vigilant, says that he personally asked Lamo to meet with federal authorities to out the source of a video published by Wikileaks showing a U.S. Apache helicopter killing several civilians and two journalists in a suburb of Baghdad, a clip that Wikileaks labeled "Collateral Murder." Lamo, who Uber said worked as an "adversary characterization" analyst for Project Vigilant, had struck up an online friendship with Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who currently faces criminal charges for releasing the classified video.

In June, Uber said he learned from Lamo's father that the young researcher had identified Manning as the video's source, and pressured him to meet with federal agencies to name Manning as Wikileaks' whistleblower. He then arranged a meeting with employees of "three letter" agencies and Lamo, who Uber said had mixed feelings about informing on Manning.

"I'm the one who called the U.S. government," Uber said. "All the people who say that Adrian is a narc, he did a patriotic thing. He sees all kinds of hacks, and he was seriously worried about people dying."

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