Feb 16, 2017
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after being caught lying about the nature of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and the only reason the public was aware of Flynn’s lie “is because someone inside the US government violated the criminal law by leaking the contents of Flynn’s intercepted communications,” observes Glenn Greewald, a civil liberties attorney and founder of The Intercept.
“In the spectrum of crimes involving the leaking of classified information, publicly revealing the contents of SIGINT – signals intelligence – is one of the most serious felonies,” Greenwald elaborates. Officials who leak such information, and journalists who publish it, face prosecution that could lead to a ten-year prison sentence if they are convicted.
The “senior US official” who leaked the information about Flynn’s phone calls to Washington Post reporter David Ignatius “committed a serious felony,” he continues, as did the people identified by the Post as “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.”
So far, there has been no serious discussion of criminal charges against the officials responsible for the leak – and Greenwald, who has worked closely with whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, believes this is appropriate. In his view, “The officials leaking this information acted justifiably…. That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter – his conversations with Russian diplomats – and the public has an absolute right to know this.”
Greenwald is among those who believe that Flynn’s departure was engineered by elements within the intelligence community who are compulsively anti-Russian in their outlook, and that they used them to destroy one of their “primary adversaries in the Trump White House.” What matters most, he contends, “is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak,” which in this case was “the exposure of high-level wrong-doing.”