The Secret Sharers

Leaking and Whistle-Blowing in the Trump Era


Is leaking sensitive national security information ever justified? Yes, under rare and exacting circumstances. Does the kind of leaking that has become the new normal during the Trump admin­istration meet those conditions? Almost certainly not, even if it hasn’t imperiled the republic—at least so far. 

Sorting through the complex moral calculus of leaking is precisely in Michael Walzer’s wheelhouse, and there is much to admire about his measured assessment (“Just and Unjust Leaks,” March/April 2018). Walzer is right not to blindly celebrate leaking as some sort of First Amendment sacrament. Yet he does not go far enough in parsing the different types of leaks. 

Walzer distinguishes between a “leaker,” who “anonymously reveals information that might embarrass officials or open up the government’s internal workings to unwanted public scrutiny,” and a “whistleblower,” who “reveals what she believes to be immoral or illegal official conduct to her

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