Conspiranoids betray Reality Winner …of course

The Intercept no doubt pissed off a fair share of its own cultivated readership when it released a top-secret National Security Agency document revealing that Russian military intelligence indeed attempted to meddle in last November’s US presidential election. Specifically, the Kremlin’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) “executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials” just days before the vote. It is to The Intercept’s everlasting credit that they’ve released this. But it is notable that their leading light Glenn Greenwald was not among the journalists involved. So far, his only response to the revelations is to tweet: “Journalism requires that document be published and reported. Rationality requires it be read skeptically.” Funny, we don’t recall any such skepticism from Greenwald about all the WikiLeaks claims he aggressively hyped—some of which seemed a little dubious.

Given that The Intercept’s own crowd appears to have everything invested in denying the ever-more blatant Trump-Putin collusion and in dismissing concern with it (nonsensically) as “red-baiting,” it seems genuinely courageous to have run this leak.

But the soup thickened when the Justice Department announced charges against one Reality Leigh Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International, who apparently had access to NSA documents. She is accused of “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” and could face up to 10 years in prison. (CNN, The Guardian) The ACLU tweets: “It would be deeply problematic if Winner’s prosecution marks the start of a Trump administration crackdown on leaks.”

Both the Washington Post and tech blog Errata Security suggest that The Intercept betrayed Winner (either consciously or unwittingly) by leaving tell-tale signs on the document she provided that revealed which printer she used and allowed the NSA to identify her.

So, how long before the same people who cheered on Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are dissing Winner as an agent of the “Deep State“? Uh, not long at all. A predictable conspiranoid site called ZeroHedge headlines: “NSA Leaker ‘Reality Winner’ Already Feels Like A Ham-Handed PsyOp.” Don’t you just love the scare quotes around her name? Resorting to the old qui bono? tactic, they write: “Let’s look at what Winner’s ‘leak’ accomplishes: Shifts the ‘Russian Hacking’ narrative away from the alleged DNC server breach and the report by ‘tainted’ cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. It allows the ‘deep state’ to maintain the assertion that Russia literally ‘meddled in the election’ with an actual hack via phishing scam.” (Breitbart, of course, is taking an identical line.)

Expect a lot more of this kind of thing. There are sectors of the so-called “left” in the US that have effectively merged with the right in an unsavory Red-Brown alliance, and are nearly openly rooting for Trump.

  1. Russian breach of 39 states threatens future US elections

    Russia's cyber-attack on the US electoral system before Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the US investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. (Bloomberg, June 13)

  2. Newt Ginrgich suddenly sounds like Glenn Greenwald

    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused special counsel Robert Mueller of trying to undermine Trump's presidency. "Mueller is now clearly the tip of the deep state spear aimed at destroying or at a minimum undermining and crippling the Trump presidency," Gingrich tweeted June 15. "The brazen redefinition of Mueller's task tells you how arrogant the deep state is and how confident it is it can get away with anything." (Fox News)

  3. Glenn Greenwald still shilling for Trump-Putin axis…

    So Greenwald goes on the deplorable Amy Goodman's ironically named Democracy Now to inform us that the latest e-mail revelations linking the Trump campaign to Kremlin intrigues do not constitute a "smoking gun" or evidence of criminal collusion. Even now? Why are "progressives" seeking a way to exculpate Trump rather than nail him? Contrast this view from Robert Reich—made before the e-mail revelations.

  4. Glenn Greenwald still shilling for Trump-Putin axis…

    His latest in The Intercept is entitled "Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?" It is gloating that the media jumped the gun (as they perenially do in this digital age, in the rush to be first with the news by a matter of micro-seconds) in reporting that "Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election," in the words of USA Today. Later some of the states denied that they were targeted, as AP reported. On this basis, all the voluminous evidence of Russian electoral meddling is to be dimissed, in Greenwald's mind.

    Is skepticism about Glenn Greenwald permissible yet?

  5. Reality Winner gets five years

    Former US intelligence contractor Reality Winner was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Aug. 23 after she accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors in June. Winner pleaded guilty to charges (PDF) of willful retention and transmission of national defense information. Initially, Winner pleaded not guilty but later changed her plea to avoid a possible 10-year prison sentence. (Jurist)

  6. Reality Winner tests positive for COVID-19

    Former intelligence contractor and whistleblower Reality Winner has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Winner’s sister, Brittany Winner, tweeted her diagnosis earlier today. Winner is currently incarcerated in a federal medical prison in Fort Worth, Texas, where an outbreak has sickened hundreds of inmates and killed at least two.

    Winner is seeking compassionate release during the coronavirus pandemic, citing underlying medical conditions. An early petition for release from her imprisonment at FMC Carswell was denied in April. Shortly afterward, Carswell reported its first coronavirus death. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last week that 130 people had contracted COVID-19 at the prison; the most recent Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics show over 500 cases. An appeal is currently pending. (The Verge)