This morning I had the opportunity to help Freedom of the Press Foundation publish the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Bradley Manning’s statement to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks.
In his statement Bradley Manning not only explains his motivation for leaking documents to WikiLeaks (he contacted the Washington Post and the New York Times first), but also technically how he went about doing it, including the software and protocols he used.
This clip, about his use of Tor, stood out to me:
Tor is a system intended to provide anonymity online. The software routes internet traffic through a network of servers and other Tor clients in order to conceal the user’s location and identity.
I was familiar with Tor and had it previously installed on a computer to anonymously monitor the social media website of militia groups operating within central Iraq.
Tor’s strength is in its diversity of users. Pretend for a moment that the military set up its own anonymity network for US intelligence analysts and spies to use. If someone (in this case, militia groups operating within central Iraq) notices that the same “anonymous” IP addresses that a known US agent has used keep hitting their server, they know that the IP addresses must belong to a US intelligence analyst or spy.
However, if a Tor exit IP address keeps hitting their server, they have no idea who it is. It could be someone from the US military, but it could also be a journalist, an activist, a spy from some other country, an organized crime goon, or an ordinary person trying to protect their privacy.
See the Tor Project’s Who Uses Tor page for more information about this concept.