The first leaker caught in the Trump-era, 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, is apparently being hit with the gravity of the situation she now finds herself in.
Winner’s parents were on CNN with Anderson Cooper and her mother says her daughter is scared.
“She said … she was very scared,” her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night. “They took her by surprise. She was not expecting any of this.”
The initial story following the arrest of Winner included the government’s statement that while being questioned, Winner admitted to identifying the information — which detailed a Russian cyber attack on US voting machines days before the 2016 election — printing it, and mailing it to a news outlet. A crime that could get her up to 10 years in prison.
Upon obtaining a court-appointed attorney, Winner’s confession has been mildly back-tracked. Her attorney says he’s more concerned about the fact that she was questioned without her attorney present.
Winner has yet to enter a plea, but her mother told Cooper that her “biggest fear in all of this is that she’s not going to get a fair trial,” and that she’ll be made an example of.
While feeling sympathy for Winner’s parents that their daughter who by all indications had a bright future ahead of her before her alleged actions last month, does need to be made an example of.
In the wake of leakers like Edward Snowden being glorified on film, and President Obama’s pardoning of Chelsea Manning, younger Americans seem to have the impression that leaking classified information is forgivable and not a big deal.
Except it is.
Reality Winner clearly underappreciated the gravity of her actions and what it would mean for her life. Something I’d wager most first-time detainees feel. She’s scared of the consequences now, but wasn’t prior to being arrested, which would indicate an example does need to be set.
Leaks of less significant value have plagued the Trump administration, and with guys like Chris Matthews encouraging government employees to leak things like the president’s taxes, it’s no wonder someone like Winner would be surprised to learn she’d be surprised with an arrest and face spending the next decade in prison.
These kinds of leaks need to be quelled. What Winner did wasn’t some brave act of whistle-blowing, it was a deliberate leak. Ultimately, the best and kindest thing that could be done, in case anyone else is thinking a leak will get them a slap on the wrist, is to make an example of what happens if one does so.