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Monday, June 04, 2018
Editor-in-Chief, Betsy Reed: WHISTLEBLOWERS PAY A TERRIBLE PRICE @ The Intercept
One year ago, FBI agents arrived at the door of a young woman named Reality Winner. Winner, an Air Force veteran and contractor at the National Security Agency facility in Augusta, Georgia, was accused of leaking a top-secret NSA document describing a Russian hacking operation targeting the U.S. voting system. At the time, President Donald Trump was loudly denouncing claims of Russian hacking as “fake news,” and he had just fired FBI Director James Comey because he wanted to end the investigation into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.” The document that Winner is accused of leaking was the subject of an article, published by The Intercept two days after her arrest, detailing the Russian hacking attempt on the cusp of the 2016 election. Winner was interrogated and jailed, charged under the Espionage Act, and denied bail. She remains in jail today.
In a piece published by The Intercept on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of Winner’s arrest, Peter Maass compares the punitive treatment of Winner, whose alleged leak alerted the public to the hacking effort, to that of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, who is suspected of colluding with Russians and is facing charges of conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, and lying to federal investigators — and who received the government’s blessing to spend his recent Christmas holiday at his 10-room Hamptons mansion.
As James Risen recently argued, it is becoming increasingly clear that the leaking of the NSA report was a vital public service. A May report by the Senate Intelligence Committee noted that state election officials learned about the Russian hacking “from the press or from the public Committee hearing on June 21, 2017.” The Intercept story ran less than three weeks before that hearing.
There’s still a lot we don’t know, however, about exactly what local election officials knew about the attacks on their systems, and when they knew it. The Intercept has been investigating. Sam Biddle filed his first report on this on Friday — and there is more to come.