The Department of Justice released a statement on Monday that it had filed a criminal complaint in the Southern District of Georgia charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with illegally removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to an online news outlet. “Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”
Ms. Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a U.S. government agency facility in Georgia, had Top Secret clearance. Winner admitted to FBI agents that she had intentionally searched for and printed the classified intelligence report at issue despite not having a “need to know,” removed it from her secured office space, and then mailed it to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the document.
A story published Monday by the leftwing online outlet Intercept involved a detailed top secret NSA report, dated May 5, 2017, on Russian hacking of voting systems in the U.S. within a week or so of last year’s presidential election, including a cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier. The document appears to have been the document leaked by Ms. Winner. The Intercept was co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, who was responsible for the publication of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Ms. Winner, by her own account on Facebook, is a big fan of leftists Bill Maher and Michael Moore. She also likes the satirical Trump Draws website, which seeks to portray the president as a doodling toddler. She detests Trump and those who voted for him, tweeting on Election Night, under the pseudonym Sara Winners @Reezlie: “Well. People suck. #ElectionNight”
On February 11th, Ms. Winner, under the same pseudonym, used twitter to label President Trump an “orange fascist.” On March 5th she tweeted: “what happened to the Feb 28th call for Trump to resign?” She also urged Kanye West to make a shirt that says, “being white is terrorism.”
This leaker also would choose to side with Iran in a war against the United States. She tweeted in reply to a tweet from Iran’s foreign minister: “There are many Americans protesting US govt aggression towards Iran. If our Tangerine in Chief declares war, we stand with you!” That would be tantamount to treason.
Aside from her own tweets, Ms. Winner was a twitter follower of Edward Snowden. Evidently, she aspired to follow in his treasonous footsteps. Not surprisingly, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange leaped to her defense, tweeting: “Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young women accused of courage in trying to help us know.”
Unfortunately for Ms. Winner, the news outlet with whom she shared the classified information inadvertently helped lead to her arrest. The news outlet had asked for comment by the government on its story, in the course of which it presented to the government evidence of the original document it had received from Ms. Winner. “The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” according to the complaint filed against Ms. Winner. It was not long before investigators were able to track down the source to the one person whom had printed the document and emailed it to the news outlet – Ms. Winner herself.
Reality Winner, aka Sara Winners, should face the reality of the maximum sentence available for her crime – 10 years in prison. There must be no opportunity for parole. “The law is very clear here. For a government employee or a contractor who has access to classified information to share it intentionally with someone who doesn’t have a security clearance, including a reporter, is a crime,” said CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Barack Obama set a terrible precedent in granting clemency to Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of a 2010 leak that disclosed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, some of which was published by WikiLeaks. Manning endangered national security and put lives in jeopardy. Contrary to Obama’s reckless grant of clemency, Manning deserved no mercy. Neither does Reality Winner. This twenty-something Trump hater should not have had a Top Secret clearance in the first place. We cannot compound that mistake by allowing her to plead guilty to a lesser charge and receive a slap on the wrist for abusing her Top Secret clearance and taking it upon herself to decide what highly classified information should be shared with the press. Her prosecution to the fullest extent of the law must serve as an example to deter other would-be leakers, government employees and contractors alike, from taking the law into their own hands.