Read It And Weep

Below is a piece by my friend Bill Prady. It’s a very important piece. You should read it. You should share it. You should protest to your representatives, and loudly. Because if this administration is allowed to prosecute and silence whistle blowers - who are blowing the whistle on a foreign government’s intervention in our own elections, thereby exposing this administration to investigation of their part in either ignoring, or outright assisting, such intervention - if those whistle blowers are silenced and imprisoned - we will no longer be America.

If precedent is set, and the perpetrators of crimes are permitted to sue the people reporting those crimes, and the courts uphold such suits and bury the reports, we will no longer be America.

We will be the country of the Watergate conspirators before Deep Throat, Woodward, and Bernstein. We will be the Pentagon Papers before Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo. We will be Russia, we will be North Korea, we will be every country that legally silences its internal critics through imprisonment and even execution.

It will spell the end of whistle blowers who warned us against leaking nuclear power plants, told us that companies manipulated nicotine levels in order to addict smokers more easily, exposed the Tuskegee experiments, reported that Swiss banks were destroying records of accounts still owed to Holocaust victims, informed on Bernie Madoff, exposed the Enron scandal, and warned us of deadly drug side effects that were never reported by the companies that manufactured and promoted those drugs.

This is not about someone exposing the names of intelligence operatives. This is not about someone conducting a vendetta. This is about someone trying to live up to the ideals America is supposed to represent, reporting egregious misconduct by a foreign country interfering in our elections at the deepest levels - and then being sued for that report by our own government.

Read it. Read it and weep. And then, share it.

Bill Prady June 6, 2017 Los Angeles, CA · This is a story. It starts with a fact we are all in agreement about: crime is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Murder is wrong. Driving too fast is wrong.

Telling secrets is wrong — especially if they are top secrets. Especially if they are the kind of secrets a government holds close to keep us safe. And telling secrets is a crime if you work for that government, if you’ve been given the kind of clearance necessary to work with secrets, if you are part of the government.

Now comes into the story Reality Winner, with her twenty-five years and her Dickensian name. At twenty-five she’s more child than adult. She goes to sleep every night in a bedroom that is almost certainly decked out in souvenirs of a short life. Is there a bulletin board with pictures of a trip with high school friends? Athletic ribbons? The tassel from a mortarboard, still crisp with gold plastic numerals reading 2010?

She loves her country. She loves her country they way you can only love this country in Texas. She loves her country like a Fourth of July parade with ribbons around dogs and flags tied to bicycles and and sparklers and the old retired fire engine.

She loves her country so much that she joined the Air Force. She learned to read and write the languages of the countries her fellow warriors fought in so that they could fight that fight smarter — so that fewer of them would die.

And when she left the Air Force, she continued to work for the country she loved. She worked in a place we don’t know much about. She worked in one of those buildings whose insides we imagine in Jason Bourne movies — people in suits with plastic laminates around their necks staring at computer screens filled with more secrets.

And she learned a secret.

She learned that the story Americans were being told was wrong. She learned that another country hadn’t reached just the unimportant outside of our election system — they had burrowed deep within. She learned that a megalomaniac half a world away was almost capable — was capable? — of reaching inside our ballot boxes and erasing the X’s we had carefully made.

She must have struggled with this. It must have tormented her. What did she do with her secret? Did she watch the news every night hoping and hoping that someone else would tell? Did she hope that someone else would betray the confidence she also kept?

It ate at her. Did she go out for drinks with friends and stare distracted into the middle distance while they laughed and Snapchatted and ate fries? What changed? What was different about the day she acted from the day before? Until she tells us, we’ll never know.

But the day was different. And she did a thing. She didn’t really know how to do it. The only things she knew about “tradecraft” were the things you and I know — the stuff we see in Jason Bourne movies and read in Nancy Drew books.

She printed out the secret. She didn’t know that every computer printer adds a tiny nearly-invisible code to each printed sheet (did you?). She sent the secret to someone she thought could help her save her country.

And for an hour, it worked. For an hour, everyone was talking about the secret. For an hour, everyone was talking about how we hadn’t known the whole story — how the very way we choose our government was in mortal danger.

And then she was caught, and the story became about her. About Reality Winner. About Reality Winner and the crime she committed. The crime she committed to save the country she loved.

Crime is wrong. But would you drive too fast to bring someone you love to a hospital? Would you steal to feed your child? Would you kill to save innocents from harm?

And what would you do to save everyone and everything? What would you do to save the truth? What would you do to save reality?

And what will you do to save Reality?

Bill Prady Toluca Lake

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