Justice For Sale: Reality Winner, National Security, and Constitutional Rights

Reality Winner stands accused of illegally leaking a document written by the US intelligence community which assesses an important part of Russia’s efforts to change the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The document leaked became the basis for a tremendous amount of reporting that, the Senate concluded, ultimately increased national security because internal warnings by the Intelligence community were getting insufficient attention at the policy level. Nonetheless, she’s being pursued with particular relentlessness and with an almost malicious indifference to justice. A year after her arrest, it’s time to look again at her case in its context.

The Intercept notes that Winner is, ultimately, being charged with attempting to secure US national security against Russia’s illegal interventions in our democratic sovereignty through open access to important information that, because it was classified, could not be shared both widely and legally. Paul Manafort is, ultimately, being charged with attempting to undermine US national security in relation to Russia’s illegal interventions in our democratic sovereignty through illegal funneling of Russian money and the corruption of facts through widespread and illegal Russian-sponsored propaganda. Yet Winner, who leaked a single document in an effort that the government has determined increased national security is in jail, denied even temporary release for the holidays in part for the “seriousness” of her crime, in part because she had 30k in savings when arrested (indicating she was a flight risk) and in part because of the lack of money for bail (puzzle that one out, eh?), while Manafort has been outside of jail and was even permitted to leave the state temporarily (a holiday in the Hamptons) and later permanently (to move to Florida) because I guess that a guy with direct ties to Russia and Cyprus and millions of dollars is not a flight risk?

The whole thing is sickening, and you may very well want to read it all despite its length. In particular, the government has been making it impossible for Winner’s lawyers to google basic facts about the document leaked. The idea is that the document is still classified, and since the lawyers have to see it to prepare a defense, then their googling any phrase in the document might be seen as confirmation that what was leaked is accurately quoted in the media. But the effect is such that they can’t even google such basic facts as whether the document Winner is alleged to have leaked was printed before Winner gained access (that fact is almost certainly not at issue, but it illustrates the absurdity of trying to prepare a defense under these restrictions).


  1. says

    The NSA is going to continue to howl for her blood, since she demonstrated that the NSA can’t keep secrets. That’s the one thing that the NSA cannot abide – it’s “the emperor’s new clothes.”

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