Why does any of this matter? In past writing on the case, Greenwald has implied that the concept that that Manning “just happened to pick” Lamo as someone to contact and confess to is hard to believe. The supposition that their first contact was less than random, that it may have had some designed origin, is a key part of a mosaic (advanced in the past by Greenwald) that the ready storyline—Manning almost-randomly finds Lamo, Lamo rats out Manning—is incomplete, misleading, and concealing of something darker, perhaps something having to do with Lamo’s interaction with government-affiliated computer security experts.
We know that Manning reached out and confided in people online he didn’t know more than once. Steve Fishman’s profile of Manning, published earlier this month in New York magazine, quoted heavily from another set of chat logs between a gay rights activist and Manning. They show Manning (isolated, seemingly depressed, and closeted at work) contacting a total stranger whose YouTube account he stumbled across to confide and discus his gender identity—a conversation that, under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell regime, carried some risk. If it is easy to believe Manning contacted and confided in this person after believing he’d found a sympathetic soul, should it be so hard to believe he approached Lamo in the same way?
This, granted, is a shadowy thicket. Lamo’s personal history and the fact that he has earned wide mistrust by betraying Manning’s confidence gave some reason not to rely on Lamo’s version of events as the only guide. But given that we now have the words of Bradley Manning on how he came to find Lamo, and they support Lamo’s previous, most detailed account, that simple explanation is becoming easier to believe.