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.