On Monday the FBI arrested Reality Winner for leaking a National Security Agency report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Winner, 25, was federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia with top secret security clearance.
(Yes, that really is her name. Her full name is Reality Leigh Winner. Yes, a mom really named her kid that. No, that mom was not Gwyneth Paltrow.)
For people who take this nation’s security seriously, the coming months and years of the left’s adulation of Winner will be insufferable. As Jim Treacher put it:
But, because this is 2017, she will now be lionized by the left. Hell, if they can make a hero out of Bradley Manning, they can make a hero out of anybody. The same people who howled at a county clerk in Kentucky for following her Christian conscience on gay marriage will defend this young lady for following her conscience on their religion. She hates the same people and things they do, so she’s one of them. No enemies on the left.
Of much more serious concern is whether Winner will be punished for her crime. Already, the editorials are calling for leniency. The Chicago Sun-Times opines,
The central question, as Winner faces criminal prosecution, is whether the good she arguably has done for her country, by contributing to the public’s understanding of the Russian conspiracy, outweighs the harm she may have done. If it were not for dozens, possibly hundreds, of such leaks by federal employees and others, the American public might still be in the dark about this unfolding scandal. There might not be three separate ongoing investigations by Congress and one by the FBI.
That’s only one of many important questions. Another one is whether her actions have contributed to an environment that encourages leaking of information that does serious damage to national security. Future leakers will be encouraged to stay the course if Winner is not punished or her punishment is insufficiently severe.
Recently the New York Times outed the top spy heading up the CIA’s Iran operation. Iran represents an existential threat to the United States, so revealing the spy’s identity could do immense harm to our nation. The fact that so few leakers are ever caught, let alone punished, no doubt emboldened whoever leaked to the New York Times.
It is myopic to look at Winner’s actions only in the context of the issue of Russian interference in our election, as the Sun-Times does. It is vital that we also consider what impact Winner’s leak will have on our national security more broadly. Because her actions will weaken it, she deserves to spend time in the clink.