The Corner

National Security & Defense

Intelligence-Leaker Reality Winner Allegedly Sympathized with Terrorists, Wanted to ‘Burn the White House Down’

Reality Leigh Winner, the 25-year-old intelligence contractor who is being charged with leaking to the press classified information on Russian efforts to hack U.S. voting machines, allegedly sympathized with terrorist leaders, wanted to burn down the White House, and mishandled classified information during her time in the military.

After searching Winner’s home, government officials found Winner’s hand-written notes: “I want to burn the White House down . . . find somewhere in Kurdistan to live,” she wrote in one note. In other notes, Winner sympathized with Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

As Jim Geraghty wrote in this morning’s Morning Jolt: “Dear National Security Agency, if somebody like Reality Winner got through your interview process, who the heck are you not hiring?”

The prosecution also found evidence leading them to believe that Winner had leaked classified information in the past. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari, “This was not the first time” that Winner mishandled classified information. Solari alleged that there is reason to believe that, while on active duty in the Air Force, Winner stole classified information through a USB drive; the USB drive in question has yet to be recovered.

Winner isn’t simply denying the charges against her; she’s manipulating the press to further her narrative. “Go nuclear with the press — because that’s how Manning got out,” Winner allegedly told her mother in a recorded jail call, referring to military-intelligence leaker Chelsea Manning whom the Obama administration pardoned in its final days.

In another recorded phone call while in jail, Winner explained to her sister that on her court date, she plans to “go out and play the cute, blonde white girl.” “Braid my hair, going to cry,” she continued.

Certainly, the Trump administration’s arrest of Winner shouldn’t be controversial; anyone who violates the Espionage Act ought to be prosecuted.

Some on the Left, however, are urging government employees such as Winner to leak classified information on the Trump administration.

Immediately following Winner’s arrest, for example, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore created TrumpiLeaks, a secure portal on his personal website for whistleblowers to send classified documents securely to him.

And over 500 people have donated to Winner’s “relief fund,” which raised more than $25,000 as of Friday morning. “This is a time to come together and unite in peace and hope and show the world LOVE ALWAYS WINS over hate!” the GoFundMe page states. Rosie O’Donnell donated $1,000 to the “brave young patriot” — indeed, the same “young patriot” who wrote notes sympathizing with Osama bin Laden.

Winner faces up to ten years in jail and $250,000 in fines.

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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