[…] This episode underscores a critical point: The mere fact that an act is illegal does not mean it is unjust or even deserving of punishment. Oftentimes, the most just acts are precisely the ones that the law prohibits.
That’s particularly true of whistleblowers — i.e., those who reveal information the law makes it a crime to reveal, when doing so is the only way to demonstrate to the public that powerful officials are acting wrongfully or deceitfully. In those cases, we should cheer those who do it even though they are undertaking exactly those actions that the criminal law prohibits.
This Flynn episode underscores another critical point: The motives of leakers are irrelevant. It’s very possible — indeed, likely — that the leakers here were not acting with benevolent motives. Nobody with a straight face can claim that lying to the public is regarded in official Washington as some sort of mortal sin; if anything, the contrary is true: It’s seen as a job requirement.
Moreover, Gen. Flynn has many enemies throughout the intelligence and defense community. The same is true, of course, of Donald Trump; recall that just a few weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Trump that he was being “really dumb” to criticize the intelligence community because “they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
It’s very possible — I’d say likely — that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble. Whatever else is true, this is a case where the intelligence community, through strategic (and illegal) leaks, destroyed one of its primary adversaries in the Trump White House.
But no matter. What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised, not scorned and punished.
- Trump and Spicer Blame Russia Scandal on ‘Illegal Leaks’ Rather Than Lies by Senior Officials
- After Michael Flynn’s Resignation, Surveillance Defenders Suddenly Care About Wiretap Abuse
- Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence
- Pence learned Flynn had misled him after Washington Post story
- Trump knew for weeks Michael Flynn misled over Russia contact
- White House was warned about Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia, say sources
- What Did Trump Know About Russia and When Did Donald Trump Know It?
- White House Names Possible Shortlist for Flynn Replacement
- Lawmakers Call for More Inquiries After National Security Adviser Flynn’s Resignation
- Russian Officials See Flynn’s Resignation as a Major Blow to Diplomacy
- America’s spies anonymously took down Michael Flynn and that is deeply worrying
- Kucinich Pins Flynn Leak on Intel Community, Warns of Another Cold War
- Ron Paul on the Winners and Losers of Flynn’s Resignation
- Flynn’s Resignation Won’t Stop Trump Admin From Targeting Iran
- Foreign Spies Must Be Bored by How Easy Trump Makes Their Jobs