Last week, 25-year-old Reality Winner (yes, somehow that is her real name) was arrested for allegedly leaking classified information on “Russian Hacking” to The Intercept:
Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a U.S. government agency facility in Georgia. She has been employed at the facility since on or about February 13, and has held a Top Secret clearance during that time. On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it. Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.
In spite of her overt and obvious political leanings (against President Trump and the right, and towards Bernie Sanders and the left), characterizing the mainstream media’s reporting on the leaker’s partisan beliefs would actually be putting it nicely:
By characterizing Winner as a staunch Sanders fan, legacy media encouraged alienation between groups that had begun to collaborate against vested interests in the media and establishment. Winner’s primary political affiliation according to the social media she left for the public appears to represent primarily a visceral hatred for President Donald Trump.
Mainstream media’s accuracy also been called into question regarding their coverage of Winner’s arrest and the NSA document which prompted it. Numerous media reports had stated that the document provided “proof” of Russian hacking of the U.S. Presidential election last year. However, Wikileaks stated via twitter that such headlines were false, as the NSA report had not showed voter machine hacking. Wikileaks added that claims were only in terms of attempts to “phish voter registration outfits.” Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept also stated via twitter that the document should be read skeptically.
Some had suggested when the leak hit (both publicly and privately) that the left would attempt to put a human face on Winner, trying to paint her as the “good guy” standing up to an evil President Trump. However, when the networks didn’t even make a concerted move to defend Winner’s leaks, you should have known right then and there that she would never be the left’s Edward Snowden:
During his report on NBC Nightly News, Justice Correspondent Pete Williams passed along her family’s claim that “she wasn’t highly political,” and Anchor Lester Holt claimed her “motive is a mystery.” But in reality, Winner was anything but silent about her political views.
In a tweet she wrote earlier this year, she smeared Trump saying: “the most dangerous entry to this country was the orange fascist we let into the white house [sic].” She had tweeted profanities targeting Trump, such as #FuckingWall, #TrumpIsACunt, and she tweeted the anti-Trump rallying cry of #notmypresident. Winner was also a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and had said on Twitter that “being white is terrorism.”
And in a response to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said “We will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense,” Winner proclaimed her support for Iran, writing: “There are many Americans protesting US govt aggression towards Iran. If our Tangerine in Chief declares war, we stand with you!”
It should have been obvious once Winner’s social media accounts were leaked; Winner was overtly partisan, and the “leaked material” in question didn’t even amount to anything of material value, solely consisting of one classified document that lined up oh-so-neatly with her political agenda.
This is in direct contradiction to Edward Snowden, who not only leaked a far larger number of documents, his leaks were in relation to the NSA’s overreach and abuse of American rights by conducting “blanket” surveillance against its citizens, often without the requisite warrants to do so:
While we don’t know if Winner took more than the one document, Snowden took thousands, at least seven thousand of which have been published, according to Business Insider.
Snowden was also careful to leave his job as a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii and flee to China before releasing the documents, putting him out of reach of authorities. Both are charged with violating the espionage act.
Winner, meanwhile, leaked one document, that was extremely partisan in nature. Compared to Snowden’s leaks, the one document offered almost nothing in regards to “actionable intelligence” or truly dangerous leaks.
But, what was most concerning, was how the NSA seemed to abandon all protocols when allowing Winner to access the material:
Winner was a civilian contractor and she had no ‘need to know’ to see this report. Contrary to what a lot of civilians think, ‘need to know,’ not security clearance level is the fail-safe of the entire classified information system. Just because you have the requisite security level you can’t just browse classified material without a work related reason for doing so. Everything is supposed to be on a “clearance plus need to know” basis.
Winner was able to print a copy of the report and was able to walk that report out of her workspace. As difficult as it is to believe, apparently there were no safeguards in place to control who printed what as she was not authorized access to the document and still managed to print it. There was no accountability established for the printed document.
Winner was in contact with The Intercept from her work computer. This tells you 100% of what you need to know about the counterintelligence program at her employer. It was so lackadaisical that it wasn’t even feared.
No matter what you think of Snowden, he was able to demonstrate (in a nonpartisan manner) that the US Government classifies far too much information, and is conducting blanket surveillance that is not legal by even the least stringent legal definitions. Snowden’s motivations weren’t politics; he was motivated instead to expose bureaucratic overreach and lack of accountability.
And, while it could be argued that Snowden brought into question the procedures that the government uses to vet those who receive top secret clearance, it should be glaringly obvious that they didn’t learn their lessons, instead choosing to hand a security clearance out to someone you would expect to see at an Antifa rally:
Start with her name: “Reality Winner.” Then let’s tick off the other boxes: lesbian bodybuilder, ardent Bernie Sanders supporter, a “Black Lives Matter” enthusiast who (though white herself) argues that “Being white is terrorism.” A woman whose social media posts include referring to the President of the United States as a “piece of shit” and the “Tangerine in chief,” who additionally declares that in a war between the US and Iran, she’ll side with Iran.
And still…STILL…she was given a top secret security clearance and access to classified materials. Which raises two very troubling questions: just what in blazing Hell does someone have to do to not get a security clearance, and how many other angry, ignorant, communist-leaning, anti-American social justice warriors are currently embedded in (and sabotaging) our intelligence agencies?!
We’re guessing the number to be terrifyingly high, but can’t know for sure because trying to find out would require functional intelligence agencies. And that ship, like Satire, has sailed.
So while it is a disturbing enough problem that the US government classifies far too much information, it is an even bigger problem that someone like Reality Winner is even able to make it past the first stage of a security clearance screening.
And while it is easy enough to chalk the whole Reality Winner episode up to typical government incompetence, perhaps we should be asking a different question; was something far more sinister at play here, with the deep state working behind the scenes towards undermining the current administration?