Shortly after President Donald Trump took office, I wrote a little satire about all the leaks from the White House — or more accurately, about the complex logistics of reporters meeting with all those leakers. Editors would be assigning sections of parking garages so they all wouldn't run into each other. I even had an assignation inside the cry room of the parish church during Mass.
Well, my satire got rejected (not by NCR, I didn't submit it here). Then a year ago in June came the first leaker/whistleblower arrest under the Trump administration: the arrest of Reality Winner.
It seems that Winner became alarmed at reports she saw in her job as a contractor for the National Security Agency about Russia's tampering with the 2016 U.S. elections. Apparently, she released NSA documents to The Intercept in order to warn the American public.
In a recent article, The Intercept notes that a Senate Intelligence Committee report in May recognized the service the media did during the campaign to raise awareness of the threat Russia posed. The June 3 Intercept article adds, "Though the report didn’t explicitly mention it, the most detailed media story about those hacking attempts was the one published by The Intercept, based on the NSA document that Winner is accused of leaking."
I've thought about Winner a lot this past year. She sits in jail in Georgia while Paul Manafort, who is accused of conspiring with Russia, is out on bail, living in luxury. Winner's legal defense may well run to $2 million. She had $30,000 in the bank when she was arrested. The full force of the government is arrayed against her and she is accused of putting the security of the nation at risk.
It's not funny. Just as well my little satire never saw the light of day. The leakers who are telling us what is happening in government are taking huge risks in an effort to safeguard democracy. Thank you.
[Mary Ann McGivern, a Sister of Loretto, works with people who have felony convictions and advocates for criminal justice. She lived at a Catholic Worker house for 28 years. She has been a public radio commentator and written plays and a cookbook. She lives in St. Louis.]