President Trump was the most aggressive prosecutor of whistleblowers of any president in American history. The previous record was set by President Obama, but the Trump administration launched as many prosecutions in four years as Obama did in eight.
President Biden, as part of his campaign to undo many of his predecessor's worst policies, should pardon most of these folks, or at least commute their sentences. Disclosing classified information that the public deserves to know does not deserve a lengthy prison sentence.
Of all the candidates for a pardon, Reality Winner's case is most obviously convincing, though as yet has not gotten the wide attention it deserves. She did indeed leak classified documents to The Intercept (which horribly botched its security protocols and basically handed her to the FBI, though she probably would have been caught eventually), which is against the law. But the exposure of these documents did not even slightly harm national security.
Here's what seems to have happened. Winner listened to the Intercepted podcast in early 2017, including one episode in which former Intercept co-founder and journalist Glenn Greenwald expressed skepticism about the idea that Russia had hacked the DNC and John Podesta to boost Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign. Therefore she sent the publication classified material showing the NSA had evidence that not only was Russia behind those hacks, it had actually successfully hacked into an election software vendor. For that she was sentenced to five years and three months in prison. It was the longest sentence in history for simply leaking to the press and very obviously related to Trump's desire to punish people who pointed out his connection to the Russia hack.
Any reasonable American should favor her release because the public has a right to know when U.S. intelligence agencies think a hostile foreign power is trying to compromise America's electoral machinery. At bottom, she was simply doing what the NSA is supposed to do protect the country. Indeed, as Kerry Howley (a journalist who has been following the Winner story closely) points out, when The Intercept published its story on the leak, the federal agency in charge of assisting state election authorities put out a bulletin informing state governments what had happened for the first time. Several states were outraged that they hadn't been informed earlier, and justifiably so. It's not the first time that intelligence agencies' compulsive secrecy and over-classification has gotten in the way of doing their purported jobs.
In any case, all the important details Winner leaked were later published in the Mueller report. Her action was carried out in good faith; she did no harm and at least some good. And anyone who simply believes in proportional punishment must agree that, even on the harshest possible reading of events, Winner has already paid for what she did and then some. She should be pardoned immediately.
Edward Snowden's case may be less convincing for many. He, of course, is the former NSA contractor who leaked details of the agency's then-dragnet surveillance to Laura Poitras, Greenwald, and other reporters at The Guardian back in 2013. That was a more traditional whistleblower-style activity of exposing a program that was legally and constitutionally dubious, but nominally dedicated to protecting national security.
In reality, intelligence agencies later admitted in classified documents that the dragnet program was basically useless. Snowden's revelations led a U.S. court to declare the program illegal, and helped lead to NSA reform becoming law proving beyond question the public value of what he did. And once again, seven years being exiled in a rather dangerous foreign country (he has been stuck in Russia since 2013) is severe enough punishment on its own. He should be pardoned and allowed to return home.
Julian Assange is a more noxious personality, but the current U.S. effort to extradite and prosecute him should be dropped (following Obama administration precedent, which Biden so far has refused to do). Assange may have actively assisted Russia in its efforts to hack Democrats' emails in 2016, and he did push the disgusting Seth Rich conspiracy theory, but the Trump administration's moves against Assange had nothing to do with those things. Instead he is being prosecuted mostly for publishing classified material from Chelsea Manning a decade ago which, if successful, would blast a hole in the First Amendment and would put other journalists who do the same thing in every major news publication at risk.
There are at least five more people in jail, on probation, or facing some other punishment for clear whistleblower activity under Trump:
- John Fry is a former IRS employee who leaked Suspicious Activity Reports (a document in the Treasury department detailing suspect bank transactions) involving Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, and recently got five years probation. Revealing corruption among the ex-president's associates is good and he should be pardoned.
- Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards is a former Treasury employee who leaked SARs detailing suspect transactions from Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to BuzzFeed News, and faces possible prison time. She should be pardoned for the same reason as Fry.
- Daniel Hale is a former intelligence analyst who leaked documents about drone warfare to The Intercept, and faces years in prison if convicted. The American people deserve to know about the operations of the U.S. military. He should be pardoned.
- Terry Albury, who was the only Black FBI agent in a detail assigned to look into the Somali-American community, sent documents about endemic racism in the agency to The Intercept, and was sentenced to 4 years in prison in 2018. The problem of racism in law enforcement speaks for itself these days; he should be pardoned.
- Navy Captain Brett Crozier commanded an aircraft carrier and was fired for desperately pointing out the fact his ship had a massive COVID-19 outbreak, which embarrassed Trump. He should get his job back.
President Trump wildly abused his pardon power deploying it mainly to protect his criminal friends from prosecution. President Biden could make a clean break with Trump's horrible reign by putting the pardon back to its intended use, and ending the U.S. government's war on whistleblowers.
The rest is here:
- NSA: We 'don't know when or even if' a quantum computer will ever be able to break today's public-key encryption - The Register - September 5th, 2021
- Opportune moment for indigenous development of 5G NSA & SA by C-DOT: Prakash - United News of India - September 5th, 2021
- A Softening Economy Will Be Buffeted By Stimulus Withdrawal And Delta-Variant Surge - Forbes - September 5th, 2021
- Actions of IT giants pave the way for states to monopolize data Snowden - TASS - September 5th, 2021
- Microsoft's Azure Government Top Secret Cloud: All you need to know - TechHQ - September 5th, 2021
- The Scandalous History of the Last Rotor Cipher Machine - IEEE Spectrum - September 5th, 2021
- The NSA Does Not Deny Reading Tucker Carlsons Emails - July 12th, 2021
- Home, but Not Free: NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Adjusts to Her Release From Prison - The Intercept - July 12th, 2021
- Congress newest subcommittee is focusing on cyber troops and JEDI - Federal News Network - February 11th, 2021
- NSA Warned Russia to Stay Out Of 2020 Election And Got SolarWinds Hack Instead - NPR - February 1st, 2021
- Biden administration will build on the Quad: NSA Jake Sullivan - The Hindu - February 1st, 2021
- William P. Crowell, Former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency, Joins LookingGlass Advisory Board - HSToday - February 1st, 2021
- SolarWinds Is Not the 'Hack of the Century.' Its Blowback for the NSA's Longtime Dominance of Cyberspace - Common Dreams - February 1st, 2021
- NSA fumes over the violation of coronavirus safety protocols - GhanaWeb - February 1st, 2021
- A Top Biden Cybersecurity Aide Donated Over $500000 to AIPAC as an NSA Official Mother Jones - Mother Jones - February 1st, 2021
- What to expect from NASS and NASED conferences - Politico - February 1st, 2021
- Companies Pay Criminal Penalties And Compensation For Undermining Competition - JD Supra - February 1st, 2021
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- Edward Snowden Pardon and the SolarWinds Hack | - City Journal - December 28th, 2020
- Edward Snowden and wife share photos of newborn son amid push for Trump to pardon NSA leaker - Washington Times - December 28th, 2020
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- No, the United States Does Not Spend Too Much on Cyber Offense - Council on Foreign Relations - December 28th, 2020
- The US has suffered a massive cyberbreach. It's hard to overstate how bad it is - The Guardian - December 28th, 2020
- Satoshi Nakamoto from NSA, AntiChrist and Other Bitcoin Conspiracy Theories - Cryptonews - December 28th, 2020
- How A Cybersecurity Firm Uncovered The Massive Computer Hack - NPR - December 28th, 2020
- Snowden and Assange Deserve Pardons. So Do the Whistleblowers Trump Imprisoned. - The Intercept - December 28th, 2020
- National Security Agency - Wikipedia - October 10th, 2020
- Talks with China will not help says USA NSA on situation on Ladakh - Oneindia - October 10th, 2020
- How to choose the right multifactor authentication program - Federal News Network - October 10th, 2020
- UofL to launch health care cybersecurity curriculum with $6.3 million from National Security Agency, pilot focused on veterans and first responders -... - October 10th, 2020
- National Storage Affiliates Trust Announces Date of its Third Quarter 2020 Earnings Release and Conference Call - Business Wire - October 10th, 2020
- NSA announces new Autumn webinar series 'Feeding the flock and getting it right' - The Scottish Farmer - October 10th, 2020
- How the NSA is disrupting foreign hackers targeting COVID-19 vaccine research - TechCrunch - September 18th, 2020
- Crime Prevention and Community Outreach, Common Goals for NSA and NYPD Commissioner - Abasto, Food and Beverage Industry News - September 18th, 2020
- Deputy NSA gets one year extension - The Hindu - September 18th, 2020
- Exceeding All Expectations: A Journey of Adversity, Triumph and Eternal Optimism - Worth - September 18th, 2020
- Huge threat to national security as hackers attack NIC computers, steal sensitive information - DNA India - September 18th, 2020
- Police: 2 more held in Agra boys kidnap-murder, NSA to be invoked - The Indian Express - September 18th, 2020
- NSA to be invoked against miscreants involved in killing Malihabad farmer: Lucknow DM - Outlook India - September 18th, 2020
- Did the NSA spy on Congress? RT The World According to Jesse - RT - September 5th, 2020
- Nebraska native, 101, defied convention: She served in South Pacific, with MacArthur and at NSA - Omaha World-Herald - September 5th, 2020
- NSA Ajit Doval reviews situation at India-China border - The New Indian Express - September 5th, 2020
- NSA Webinar Part 3: Skills Development and the future of learning during and post the Covid-19 pandemic - Mail and Guardian - September 5th, 2020
- ICE Robotics Expands Offering With NSA Partnership - CleanLink - September 4th, 2020
- National Security Agency | History, Role, & Surveillance ... - August 16th, 2020
- The NSA and FBI Expose Fancy Bear's Sneaky Hacking Tool - WIRED - August 16th, 2020
- NSA and FBI Expose Russian Previously Undisclosed Malware Drovorub in Cybersecurity Advisory FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation - August 16th, 2020
- Shah Faesal reached out to NSA before he quit party; open to IAS return - Hindustan Times - August 16th, 2020
- How has the pandemic impacted work at the NSA? - C4ISRNet - August 10th, 2020
- Election interference efforts have shifted, NSA and Cyber Command election threats leads say - CyberScoop - August 10th, 2020
- Did Hedge Funds Make The Right Call On National Storage Affiliates Trust (NSA)? - Yahoo Finance - August 10th, 2020
- National Speakers Association Inducts Mary Kelly, Ph. D. into the Speaker Hall of Fame - The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - August 10th, 2020
- For 2020 Election, Threat is Bigger than Russia > US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - Department of Defense - August 10th, 2020
- The White House reportedly quashed part of an intelligence report that showed Russia is helping the Trump campaign - MSN Money - August 10th, 2020
- GFA Express Appreciation To NSA | General Sports - Peace FM Online - August 10th, 2020
- NSA O'Brien Says US Has 'Sanctioned The Heck Out Of Russia' - Newsmax - August 10th, 2020
- DHS Warns of a Persistent Cyber Threat Targeting Critical Infrastructure in the U.S. - CPO Magazine - August 10th, 2020
- Money Explodes; Gold Glitters; The Recovery Slows - Forbes - August 10th, 2020
- NSA Reports on New Cyber Vulnerability in Computers - ExecutiveGov - August 10th, 2020
- The Trump administration reportedly quashed an intelligence report that showed Russia is helping him win the 2020 election - MSN Money - August 10th, 2020
- There Will Be Blowback - Forbes - August 10th, 2020
- What and how are you thinking? Anything is possible - Martins Ferry Times Leader - August 10th, 2020
- TikTok and National Security: The Need for a Comprehensive U.S. Privacy Law - Security Boulevard - August 10th, 2020
- Buhari to overhaul the nation's security apparatus, says NSA - TheCable - August 10th, 2020
- Trump quashed report section showing Russia is helping him win 2020 - Business Insider - Business Insider - August 9th, 2020
- NSA Sheep 2020 to be a virtual sheep show - South West Farmer - August 8th, 2020
- All you need to hijack a Mac is an old Office document and a .zip file - TechRadar - August 8th, 2020
- Silicon Valley's Vast Data Collection Should Worry You More Than TikTok - Jacobin magazine - August 8th, 2020
- T-Mobile Is The First Carrier Globally To Launch Nationwide Standalone (SA) 5G - Forbes - August 7th, 2020
- The Room Where It Happened: Former US NSA exposes the frailties of the Trump administration - The Financial Express - August 4th, 2020
- NSA Sheep 2020 to go virtual over two days - FarmingUK - July 31st, 2020
- Protect Our Power Urges Vigilance in Response to NSA and CISA Warning on Critical Infrastructure - PRNewswire - July 31st, 2020
- A "Time of Heightened Tensions": Homeland Security and National Security Agency Issue Joint Cybersecurity Alert - JD Supra - July 31st, 2020
- Amid 'heightened tensions,' US government issues warning to critical infrastructure providers - Utility Dive - July 31st, 2020
- Garmin Hack, Glitch in Flight Navigation and an NSA Warning: The Massive Threat of WastedLocker - News18 - July 31st, 2020
- Netflix is looking to Splinter Cell for its next big video game adaptation - The Verge - July 31st, 2020
- US real GDP to expand by 15% in Q3 TDS - FXStreet - July 31st, 2020
- Two Rebels Against the Establishment: Oliver Stone and Edward Snowden - CounterPunch - July 31st, 2020
- Orange announces it will launch 5G later this year - Explica - July 31st, 2020
- Privacy Shield Struck Down: Schrems II Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Go Back in the Harbor - JD Supra - July 31st, 2020