It was a Democrat, Barack Obama, who ran in 2008 with a promise to extend protections to whistle-blowers, only to betray those words as president. Under Obama, eight whistle-blowers were prosecuted, initially, under the Espionage Act, far more than any commander-in-chief who came before him. Most of the persecuted made the same difficult choice as Winner, pleading guilty to lesser charges because of the Kafkaesque nature of the Espionage Act.
…Timm said any solution would start with rewriting the Espionage Act, to make it clear that the law is targeting treasonous spies, not patriotic whistle-blowers. Likewise, he said federal law could also be reformed to allow whistle-blowers like Winner or Kiriakou to present evidence on whether their leak was motivated by the public interest or whether national security was, in fact, harmed.
What’s more, we need more big shots in Big Media with the biggest megaphones to help remind people that it was leaked information that let the public know about the depths of Watergate, the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib, and the Vietnam War lying that was laid bare in the Pentagon Papers. In fact, it’s a little crazy — and maybe revealing — that while the journalism world was going ga-ga over the Pentagon Papers-era defiance in the movie The Post, very little ink was spilled in defense of Reality Winner.