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Messages from alleged leaker Bradley Manning portray him as despondent soldier

The U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks offer unvarnished insights into the personal proclivities of world leaders.

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He is slight, 5-foot-2 and 105 pounds. He was looking for a connection.

In a phone interview, Lamo said he does not know what prompted Manning to allegedly leak. "I think it was a confluence of things -- being a thin, nerdy, geeky type in an Army culture of machismo, of seeing injustice," he said.

Wikileaks has declined to say whether Manning was a source but has stated, via a Twitter post, that it would defend him based on allegations that he was. It has also said the allegations that it had "been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect."

In his exchanges with Lamo, Manning said he had sent files to a "white haired aussie," whom he later identified as Julian Assange, the peripatetic founder of Wikileaks.

Manning referred in his chat with Lamo to a leak of a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, dated Jan. 13. Wikileaks published a document matching that description Feb. 18.

He also told Lamo that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and finds an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format to the public . . . everywhere there's a US post . . . there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed."

It's "important that it gets out . . . i feel, for some bizarre reason . . . it might actually change something," he said.

A spokesman for the State Department has said that officials are working with the military in its investigation. "Clearly, classified information, anytime it is released in the public domain, can have a potential negative impact on our security," spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday.

'Damning' video

Among the files Manning said he leaked was a video of a May 2009 airstrike near the village of Gerani in Afghanistan that local officials claimed killed scores of civilians. But that video, which Manning said Wikileaks "hasn't decrypted yet," was "not nearly as damning" as a video of a 2007 U.S. Army helicopter attack on Iraqi insurgents that showed civilians, including two Reuters employees, being gunned down. Lamo said Manning gave Wikileaks the video footage in February. Wikileaks, which said it had multiple sources for the footage and accompanying documents, posted the video in April under the title "Collateral Murder."

It's unclear how significant those videos may have been in prompting the alleged leaking.

An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, said Manning, who entered the Army as a private in October 2007, was demoted last month for an assault. He said he was not facing early discharge.

In one message, Manning said: "i'm exhausted . . . in desperation to get somewhere in life . . . i joined the army . . . and that's proven to be a disaster now . . . and now i'm quite possibly on the verge of being the most notorious 'hacktivist' or whatever you want to call it . . . its all a big mess i've created."

Staff researcher Julie Tate and staff writer Joby Warrick contributed to this report.


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