Whatever one thinks of Edward Snowden, the actions of the original NSA leaker - right or wrong - were dictated not by spite, but an ideology: his desire to expose the pervasive domestic spying apparatus of the NSA, even if meant a lifelong exile in Russia, was - in his view - for the greater good. His infamous successor, NSA contractor Reality Winner, who was recently arrested for providing The Intercept with a top secret document allegedly revealing Russian hacking of the US election, however had a far less lofty goal: to burn Donald Trump down to the ground.
On Thursday afternoon, Reality Winner was indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count. She entered a not-guilty plea before the judge denied bond.
Based on evidence seized from her home, federal prosecutors detailed Winner's alleged plans "to burn down the White House" and travel to Afghanistan, pledging her allegiance to the Taliban according to Atlanta's Channel 2 News.
Prosecutors argued that the only thing Winner could do if she were released on bail is be recruited by the nation’s enemies.
Behind the scenes, Winner was even more conniving than her actions revealed: prosecutors said in recorded jailhouse calls, she told her mother how to play her side of the story in the media, as someone who was scared she’d disappear from an interrogation room in her Augusta home after Saturday’s raid. In other words, the mother's heartfelt appeal was scripted by Reality herself.
It wasn't just her mother: the prosecution added that in a phone call to her sister expressed her confidence in how to play the court during her bond hearing. “I’m pretty, white and cute,” she allegedly told her sister. Prosecutors said Winner told her sister she would braid her hair and cry in court.
Here, a question we posed earlier in the week re-emerges: how did this 25-year-old, with a checkered public social network past, which revealed her contempt for the president, end up with a top secret clearance and was unaware her NSA work computer was being monitored, and that her prison conversations were being recorded. We can only attribute it to the vast qualified labor gap plaguing America these days.
Going back to today's hearing, the government said it believes those who knew Winner best did not know an alternate side of her, who confessed to wanting to do harm to the nation through the release of classified documents.
Channel 2’s Nicole Carr spoke to Winner’s parents Thursday morning.
“She offered up her life for this nation and to see her treated so vilely is an insult to every person who’s ever worn a uniform,” Winner’s father, Gary Davis, said. The government said it will likely add to the indictment and more charges are expected to come.