With Classified Documents, the Real Divide Is Between the Powerful and the Rest of Us
Was President Joe Biden more irresponsible than President Donald Trump in mishandling classified documents? Should one be prosecuted? Both? Neither?
Let D.C. denizens hash out the treatment doled out to representatives of competing political factions over their ability to keep government secrets. The real divide is between the consequences faced by the powerful and those inflicted on the rest of us. Whatever happens to rival members of the political class, you and I would certainly face harsher punishment for breaking the rules regarding classified documents.
“Worth noting that the President seems to have absconded with more classified documents than many whistleblowers. For comparison, Reality Winner was sentenced to 5 YEARS for just one document,” whistleblower Edward Snowden commented last week as attorneys and journalists were comparing the current president’s cache of illicitly retained classified material with that of his predecessor. “Meanwhile Biden, Trump, Clinton, Petraeus… these guys have dozens, hundreds. No jail.”
That’s exactly right. Back in 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice boasted of the harsh sentence handed to Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, for sharing an intelligence report on Russian hackers’ attempts to infiltrate U.S. voter registration systems prior to the 2016 elections.
“Reality Winner, 26, of Augusta, Georgia, was sentenced today to five years and three months in prison for removing classified national defense material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” the Justice Department trumpeted. “Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on or about May 9, 2017, Winner printed an intelligence report that was classified at the TOP SECRET//SCI level, and she removed it from the facility where she worked.”
True, Winner didn’t just take the report; she passed what she considered a matter of public importance to journalists. But that wasn’t very different from the actions of David Petraeus, a retired four-star general and then CIA director who shared classified info with his biographer/girlfriend. He was charged in 2015 “with one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material,” according to the Justice Department. His actions were treated with a lighter touch than Winner received.
“Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career was destroyed by an extramarital affair with his biographer, was sentenced Thursday to two years’ probation and fined $100,000 for giving her classified material w
Article from Reason.com