World Net Daily: Dem congressmen's guide explains how to leak secrets
WASHINGTON – More than three months before the Justice Department announced a 25-year-old National Security Agency contractor had been arrested for leaking top-secret information to a news outlet, two Democratic members of Congress launched a taxpayer-funded, official government website to show federal employees how to leak government information to the media.
In an article headlined “Federal Employees Guide To Sharing Key Information With The Public,” Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Don Beyer, D-Va., are encouraging whistleblowers, specifically within President Trump’s administration, to continue leaking to the media.
“Now more than ever we need whistleblowers to come forward. I created an official website on how to leak to the press,” Lieu tweeted with a link to his official congressional website.
In an act of defiance toward the Trump administration, Lieu and Beyer released a statement in February accompanying their instructions for federal employees and White House staffers who want to leak information to the press.
“Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Congressman Don Beyer (D | Virginia) released a resource guide for federal employees who wish to break the Administration’s communications blackout on federal agencies,” the statement reads, going on to say:
The guide explains how to safely and responsibly share information, and encourages employees to “Know Your Rights” and “Know Your Options.” In the “Know Your Rights” section, federal employees can learn about which federal laws apply to them. In the “Know Your Options” section, employees can learn about how to safely disseminate information to agency inspectors general and the press. The resource guide also includes links to an in-depth list of federal whistleblower statutes and information about agency inspectors general.
Lieu charges that the Trump administration has “strapped a muzzle on federal agencies.”
“We believe the American people have a right to know how their government works,” Lieu said in a statement accompanying his guide’s release. “The Trump administration has strapped a muzzle on federal agencies and attacked legitimate whistleblowers. Should federal employees wish to break that silence, we want this to be a resource for the safe and responsible disclosure of information.”
The guide cites laws that apply to federal employees, focusing on the First Amendment and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act as key protections for individuals wanting to leak sensitive information that pertains to the administration’s policies.
The “Know Your Options” section includes links to federal whistleblower statutes and suggests employees use encrypted messages to communicate with the press. Lieu also lists a number of left-leaning media outlets – including the New York Times, the Washington Post, ProPublica, the Intercept and the Guardian – that will accept and publish anonymous leaks.
The Trump White House has struggled to stop leaks to the media, both internally and from the intelligence community. Press leaks regarding former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn ultimately led to Flynn’s resignation.
Amid the fallout from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Lieu called on administration officials to continue leaking information.
“Very happy that whistleblowers are telling the American public the truth. Now, more than ever, we need whistleblowers to leak to the press.”
While Lieu is encouraging the leaking of unclassified information, he emphasizes that anything leaked must fall within the five categories protected by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, or WPEA.
“The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act protects you from workplace retaliation for disclosing: 1) violation of a law, rule or regulation; 2) gross mismanagement; 3) gross waste of funds; 4) an abuse of authority; or 5) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. Classified materials are not covered under WEPA [sic], nor is information irrelevant to the above categories of malfeasance,” the guide states.
Lieu, who ran for Congress in 2014 as a moderate, has become one of the left’s most ardent anti-Trump activists on social media.
“Dear Jared: The leaks behind the stories show a lot of people don’t like you. And your father-in-law’s top aides won’t even defend you. Sad!” said a May 27 tweet.
The congressman, who represents California’s 33rd congressional district, maintains a “Cloud of Illegitimacy Clock” on his official congressional website. The “clock” records the amount of time Trump has been an “illegitimate” president of the United States, down to the second.
Lieu has also introduced legislation that would require the presence of a psychiatrist in the White House, warning that Trump displays “grave emotional instability.”
While the “Speak Truth To Power” guide encourages Trump opponents to leak only legally protected information regarding abuses such as “gross mismanagement,” “gross waste of funds” or “abuse of authority” as spelled out in the Whistleblower-protection law, a fiercely partisan critic of the Trump administration, or of Republican policies in general, could easily interpret any number of GOP policies as falling within the listed categories.
A leaked intelligence document from the National Security Agency was published Monday by the Intercept, which claimed that Russian hackers targeted U.S. voting systems days before the 2016 election. The document describes Russian operatives trying to use a spear-phishing email scheme to target government officials and employees.
Not long after top-secret NSA documents made their way to the Intercept, the Justice Department arrested Winner for unlawfully supplying the top-secret material to a news outlet.
Winner, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran whose social media accounts were full of radical anti-Trump posts, faces up to 10 years in prison.
Leaks ‘from the inner circle’
Radio host Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly warned that many leaks in the Trump administration are likely coming from members of Trump’s inner circle.
“You would leak in order to ingratiate yourself with the media. You would leak in order to buy yourself either no coverage or favorable coverage. You would leak maybe if an enemy of Trump was offering you riches and power if you lose your job because you’re discovered as a leaker. It’s a cesspool,” Limbaugh explained recently. “Much of this that is happening is due to disloyalty to Trump in his inner circle.”
Limbaugh said the purpose of the leaks is “the destruction of the Trump presidency and the purpose of the destruction of the Trump presidency is not just to destroy Trump.”
“It is to dissuade anybody else from ever trying what Trump tried here,” he said. “This is a message: ‘This is what’s gonna happen to you if you try to become president outside the establishment.'”
“Why would people who he’s asked to be in his inner circle – which would be an honor to have that kind of access to power, to be involved in this revolutionary administration that has a chance of changing the world – why would you want to sabotage it? My friends, all valid questions, but the answer is the pursuit of raw personal power.”
While disloyalty within Trump’s inner circle may be responsible for some leaks, advocacy for whistleblowers leaking information has been bipartisan.
“Whistleblowers can be instrumental in helping to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington by shedding light on fraud, waste and abuse within the bureaucracy,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who founded the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, wrote in a letter to Trump Feb. 8.
Grassley asked Trump to “hold a White House Rose Garden ceremony to honor the work of whistleblowers, and send a clear message that misconduct in the bureaucracy and reprisal for those who seek to correct it will not be tolerated.”
Grassley joined two fellow Republicans, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Oversight Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina in penning a letter to the White House calling for legal protections for whistleblowers.