This is an email I sent to Glen Greenwald in response to his article "The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies" which can be read here: https://theintercept.com/2017/02/14/the-leakers-who-exposed-gen-flynns-lie-committed-serious-and-wholly-justified-felonies/
I just read your article "The Leakers Who Exposed...". I think you are mistaken on a few important points. First, you claim that Flynn "blatantly lied to the public ". But this is factually untrue, Flynn never misrepresented his conversation with Kislyak to the public. His misrepresentations were to Pence and the FBI, but not the public. (And I do not think you would try to construe that assertion to mean that the public was eventually misled by an unwitting Pence because of this.That is certainly not what readers would interpret your article as saying.)
Second, I think it is imprudent to assert that Flynn lied in the first place. I say this because whether Flynn intentionally lied, or merely forgot, or didn't even think about mentioning the fact that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak because of how brief or inconsequential the exchange with him on that subject was, or misrepresented the issue for some conceivable reason other than lying, a judgement respecting which of these explanations correspond to the truth could only be (prudently) made by someone who had reviewed the transcripts of Flynn's discussions with Kislyak, Pence, and the FBI.
These two things serve to unduly impress upon the reader an emotional sense of "victimization" by Flynn's (assumed/asserted) intentional lying to them. The arguments made in your article are thus artificially buoyed up, by this emotional device, to be more compelling. "He lied to you, therefore" etc.
Further, and most importantly, you claim that "Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised." But yet, at the same time, you admit: "[It is] likely... that the motive [for the leak] was vindictive rather than noble", and that the leakers were "not acting with benevolent motives". It follows that even though this leak was malevolently motivated it should be praised. Why should anyone praise actions which are performed on the basis of vindictive motives? That is an absurdly immoral thing to say. In an attempt to relieve your article of this moral absurdity you make the awesome assertion that "The motives of leakers are irrelevant". This illustrates, in my opinion, the deepest flaw in your judgment respecting this issue. To claim that people should blindly praise all revelations of (what are claimed to be) wrongdoings by the members of their government reminds one of the manipulations of the beliefs of the masses depicted in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. To assert that people should not question the motives behind such actions, especially in the realm of politics, is autistically academic at best, and dangerously Orwellian at worst.
Your article unwittingly plays into the very intention of the establishment whose wrongful activities you strive to expose- namely, the anti-Russia warmongers in the establishment who are intent on subverting any potential change in the US's policy of confrontation with Russia. Any honest assessment of the Trump administration should reveal that, despite his shortcomings, Trump is obviously inclined to initiate such a change in US policy, away from confrontation. That is what should be praised- and actions which are made on the basis of that motivation should be praised. Any actions to subvert that possibility- any actions motivated to keep the US on a confrontational collision course with Russia, something which would result in the nuclear annihilation of mankind- should be severely denounced. Obviously, that was the motivation behind the Flynn expose, and for that reason, I say that your assertion that the Flynn expose should "be praised" is absurd.
Is the fact that Flynn misrepresented his exchange with Kislyak concerning? Yes, but to a minimal degree. Problems of internal administration communication of information are not to be ignored, and it is good that this problem was raised to Trump and his team. It may very well have been right to oust Flynn for it. But, is such a problem more concerning than the fact that high-level members of the intelligence community carried out leaks to "destroy" someone else in the government on the basis of the motivation to subvert the potential for US-Russia peace and to continue the drive toward nuclear World War Three? I don't think so. Is such a thing to "be praised"? I don't think so.
Context and the intended effect (motivation) are everything. Without an understanding of this, one is liable -even with the best of intentions- to contribute to the fulfillment of the designs of the very forces which one fancies themselves as opposed to.
Your point respecting the hypocrisy of selectively judging leaks to be "good" or "bad" on the basis of mere purely partisan considerations is important. This, and the related point you made about the difference between unlawful and wrong, serves to raise an important question: What is a legitimate leak? As you point out, the law cannot be the standard, for it may be against the law to expose a great wrongdoing and yet be morally right (like Snowden). What is the standard then? Is it simply whether the leak exposes any wrongdoing, as you assert? I don't think we can treat a question of such seriousness with such a simplistic and flippant assertion. I do not believe there is any formula by which this question can be answered. I think it is a matter of profound moral consideration on the part of the individual which makes the leak and those in the society affected. Perhaps the morality of the action can only be judged by the positive or negative effect which it contributes to human history- as my emphasis on context and intention would indicate.
Anyway, I thought you may appreciate some of my thoughts on this issue. I appreciate and respect the work that you have done and continue to do. In this war for truth, one cannot but appreciate all who are allied in the pursuit of truth. Thank you for dedicating so much of your time to the promulgation of the truth of certain things which most people are denied access to.
With sentiments of respect and friendship,