Air Force Vet Turned NSA Contractor Reality Winner Pleads Guilty To Leaking

Reality Winner
Public domain

Reality Winner, the first person to be prosecuted by the Trump administration for leaking sensitive government information, pleaded guilty Tuesday to sending to the news media a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Her plea agreement calls for her to serve five years and three months behind bars, though she will be sentenced at a later date.

“All of these actions I did willfully, meaning I did them of my own free will,” she told the court.

The Intercept, an online publication that specializes in national security coverage, published an article based on the report, saying Russian military intelligence sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials and launched a cyberattack against a Florida-based voting software supplier that contracts in eight states.

Winner’s supporters have hailed her as a patriot, while her critics have blasted her as a naive and reckless leaker whose actions could deter others carrying more explosive government information.

The government prosecuted the 26-year-old former Air Force linguist under the Espionage Act. She has been held in jail outside of Augusta without bond for more than a year. Her trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 15.

Last week, her mother, Billie Winner-Davis, speculated the Espionage Act was too difficult to fight. A World War I-era law aimed at spies, it does not take into account whether leaks are done in the public interest or whether they damage national security.

Winner also suffered a series of courtroom defeats in rulings handed down by U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Brian Epps. The judge, for example, rejected all but one of her attorneys’ 41 requests to subpoena the White House and numerous states and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CIA and the National Security Council, for classified information.

Meanwhile, Winner’s health suffered in the Lincoln County Jail, where she was attacked by another detainee, according to her family. She also injured her knee in a fall while being transported for a court hearing, landing face-first while shackled and handcuffed.

“What we can do now for Reality Winner is ask that the court consider her actions and service to her country and community as her punishment and sentence is determined,” her mother said on Twitter this week.

In a letter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year, Winner called her unsuccessful attempt to get out of jail on bond “a new low in my life.”

“There are no words,” Winner said, “to describe how it felt to have a government prosecutor say to the world that I was … I don’t even know, a jihad sympathizer? I can’t even spell that right, ha.”


©2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Pentagon will implement an "operational pause" on the training of foreign students inside the United States as the military undergoes a review of screening procedures, according to senior defense officials.

Read More Show Less
In this Nov 24, 2009, file photo, a University of Phoenix billboard is shown in Chandler, Ariz. The University of Phoenix for-profit college and its parent company will pay $50 million and cancel $141 million in student debt to settle allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission. (AP Photo/Matt York)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.

The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.

Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.

Read More Show Less
Shane Reynolds, UCF Research Associate demonstrates an AR/VR system to train soldiers and Marines on how to improve their ability to detect improvised explosive devices. (Orlando Sentinel/Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda)

As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.

Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.

Read More Show Less
US Navy

The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Melissa I. Ugalde)

Ah, Heartbreak Ridge, the creme de la' creme of moto-movies that gave us such gems as: "Recon platoon kicks butt!" and the tried-and-tested method of firing a bunch of AK rounds at your Marines and calling it a teachable moment.

Read More Show Less