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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/3/18

Whatever You Think of the Trump-Russia Investigation, Whistleblower Reality Winner Deserves Your Support

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The fact that Winner's leak involved alleged Russian interference, however, shouldn't preclude anyone on the left from realizing Winner's case is a miscarriage of justice. While Gen. David Petraeus and other powerful Washington figures have gotten off with a slap on the wrist for leaking classified information, Winner remains behind bars after being denied bail on extremely dubious grounds. Up until last month, when lawyer Alex van der Zwaan reported to prison to serve a 30-day sentence related to making false statements in the special counsel investigation, Winner was the only person with any relation to the Russian interference scandal in jail -- and she has been there for a year.

No political group's failure to take up Winner's cause is more galling than the liberal establishment's. Anti-Trump to the core, this group seems to consider Russian interference in the election as the crime of the century. Yet many of the characters obsessing over the issue have shamefully ignored Winner's case almost entirely.

Liberals and centrists tend to blindly accept the government's view of leaking of classified documents -- that anything deemed "classified" would cause harm to national security if it was released -- while trumpeting many stories in the New York Times and Washington Post about Russia that contain confidential or classified information. It does not seem to bother many of them that the government constantly over-classifies all sorts of information, and their drumbeat about "harm" to national security is almost always exaggerated and easily proven false.

To make matters worse, liberals and moderates have also become enchanted with former intelligence officials -- many of whom have appalling ethical records of their own -- and some of whom have also leaked classified information while on the job for their own benefit. This resurgent reverence for national security authorities may make liberals and centrists less likely to question the line pushed by the intelligence community that sources to journalists are somehow a danger, rather than stewards of a public service.

Amid the liberal rehabilitation of these former intelligence officials, few Democrats consider the hypocrisy of leaving Winner to rot while a flood of leaks -- from intelligence sources, along with many others -- has been vital in holding the Trump administration to account. The hypocrisy of Democratic Sen. Mark Warner is a case in point: As vice chair of the intelligence committee, Warner has called for transparency on all evidence of Russian hacking -- but also supports the prosecution of Winner.

These Democrats and anti-Trump centrists should know better than anyone, thanks to the Hillary Clinton email server scandal, how warped and broken our classification system is -- that the "national security risks" proffered by the intelligence community rarely, if ever, hold water. It should be obvious that no one should be prosecuted for trying to alert the public about potential vulnerabilities in our electoral process.

Please go to The Intercept to read the rest of this article.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)

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