Leaked information has revealed members of Trump’s cabinet had contact with Russian intelligence before the transition into the White House. The leaked intelligence, which has been circulating through a number of news outlets, shed light on national security advisor Michael Flynn’s calls with a Russian ambassador before Trump took office and the inconsistencies with Flynn’s details about the information they discussed. Since the leak, congressional Democrats and Republicans are calling for investigations on Trump’s ties with Russia, while Trump instead has been focusing primarily on seeking those who leaked the information. Flynn was forced to resign.
Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, believes that those leakers who exposed General Flynn’s lies committed a serious crime, but they are wholly justified.
“There’s no question that whoever leaked the contents of General Flynn’s telephone calls with the Russian ambassador and other Russian diplomats committed what the law regards as extremely serious crimes,” said Greenwald.
“Those people ought to be celebrated and treated as people defending democracy and transparency…. in this particular case, whoever leaked this information helped the public to understand and to learn exactly how General Flynn lied, and therefore, despite being illegal, highly illegal, I actually think it’s also wholly justified.”
If it is criminal, is it justified?
If we look at this story from a utilitarian approach, even though this act was illegal, it can be justified. Those that leaked this information for the public produced the optimific result with their actions. Their choice to reveal this information yielded the best net balance of good over bad. In the long run, it will improve the well-being of the American people more than any other action the leakers could have done given the circumstances (like choosing instead not to share the information with the public). Though it was a felony to leak the info, Flynn denied publicly that he discussed confidential information with the Russian ambassador when information existed showing us that he lied, which the public has the right to know. Flynn was in a position as a representative of all U.S. citizens and our best interests, and so even though the result of this caused some “bad” (Flynn losing his job, the White House coming under more fire for ethical and legal situations, the committing of a felony by those which exposed the info, etc.), the result is mostly good and likely the best for the American people. If our leaders commit treasons or act against the laws and standards they are held to, it should be made transparent to the people and they should be brought to justice. Furthermore, utilitarianism explains that no moral rule (other than the principle of utility) is absolute. Through this moral flexibility, sometimes it is okay to violate a rule if doing so will raise overall well-being. Because this is the case, deciding on rightness and wrongness of the action, the leaks ultimately yielded good results, which makes them justifiable.