Robert Reich: When Is a Leak Not a Leak?

RTX396XE
Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for sending classified material to a news organization, poses in a picture posted to her Instagram account. Reality Winner/Social Media via REUTERS

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

The arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old federal contractor from Atlanta, Georgia, for leaking a National Security Agency report describing in far more detail than previously known Russian efforts to intrude in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, comes in the midst of a deluge of Trump tweets and leaks.

RELATED: Robert Reich : It Is Urgent We Remove Trump Soonest

Among the most sensitive leaks about national security since the start of the Trump administration was Trump's own Oval Office conversation with top Russian officials last month, in which he revealed allied intelligence information apparently coming from Israel.

At that same meeting, Trump discussed his firing of former FBI Director James Comey the previous day, thereby relieving "great pressure" on him, he said. (Comey will be testifying before Congress Thursday).

How do we even know about these discussions between Trump and Russian officials? They were leaked! So we had a leak about a leak, coupled with a leak about a potential cover-up by the president of his attempt to obstruct justice.

The essential message of the Justice Department's decision to go after Reality Winner is that those who leak will be targeted for prosecution if the information they give journalists is about Russia helping Trump win the election.

But let's be clear. This particular leak of an NSA report is not the central problem.

The problem is, Russia has directly and brazenly interfered in our democratic system. Yet we don't know exactly how – and we don't have a means of stopping Russia from doing it again.

The other part of the problem is that instead of resolutely focusing on this brazen attack on American democracy, we have president who's been actively trying to obstruct public knowledge of what happened.

RELATED: Robert Reich : Why Is Trump Doing Putin's Dirty Work?

Robert Reich is the chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.

Robert Reich: When Is a Leak Not a Leak? | Opinion
{{label}}
{{title}}
EDITOR'S PICK