An Open Letter to Donald Trump–9/28/2020
- Phoenix Congress 2020 represents members of the American Union, who are willing to vote for both Republicans and Democrats in the 471 federal races who will meet our terms, including Donald Trump. This is part of a series of open letters explaining our demands.
September 28th, 2020
Dear President Trump,
Mass incarceration is a moral stain on the American conscious. Tough on crime politics have facilitated a cycle of over-criminalization and generational poverty in targeted communities. All of this damage is the product of political rhetoric that pushed politicians to extreme positions on criminal justice–and it is still happening. Mass incarceration has essentially produced political prisoners who are victims of political rhetoric. Ending mass incarceration is an essential part of America becoming a more moral nation.
Mr. President, there are other political prisoners as well: Edward Snowden, Reality Winner, and Julian Assange. These three names are well known in popular culture because they are recognized as whistleblowers–people who publicized classified information about what the United States government had been secretly doing.
It is time for these political prisoners to be set free. Demanding this freedom is not the same as saying these people have done nothing wrong. These men and women have lost years of freedom, they have been punished for their actions–it is time for them to be released.
Reality Winner has been incarcerated in Texas for three years. She was arrested for mailing a sheet of paper containing classified information which showed that Russia had attempted to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. She sent this single piece of paper to the media. There was no personal gain in her actions or malicious intent. She was attempting to make sure the American public knew the truth. It is true, she broke the law, and has been incarcerated for it. You have the power to pardon her.
Mr. President, Reality Winner is a veteran who spent three years in the Air Force. As an NSA contractor after her service, she believed there were some secrets that should not be kept from the American people. It is time to free Reality Winner.
Edward Snowden is not incarcerated, but he is in exile. Edward Snowden was an NSA contractor who learned that the government was spying on Americans and lying about their actions to the public and Congress. Snowden leaked the proof to the media in order to expose the truth–once again at no personal gain. He is in exile in Russia where he has been stuck for several years because his passport is canceled. Edward Snowden broke the law, but he broke it on behalf of his country, and it is time to bring him home.
Julian Assange is not an American citizen–he is Australian. When facing extradition to the United States he sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange was the cofounder of WikiLeaks–a website that helped form discussion and debate about policy in the United States. His crime was releasing classified videos and documents which proved U.S. soldiers committing war crimes. These classified materials were provided by Chelsea Manning who served seven years in prison.
If Manning and Assange had not released these files the American people would have never known about the crimes being covered up. It is time to allow Julian Assange to go free.
Mr. President, you have the ability to pardon Reality Winner and the ability to insist that the prosecution of Julian Assange be ended. You also have the ability to order the restoration of Edward Snowden’s passport and bring an end to his prosecution.
All of these men and women have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 which is an archaic law from World War I. None of these people have committed espionage–which is spying, or the use of spies by other nations to find military secrets. Their only crime has been exposing the truths that were being hidden from the American public. These people are patriots who were willing to sacrifice for more transparent government.
Mr. President, the Phoenix Congress demands the release of these political prisoners as part of the Blueprint for a Better America. However, as we prepare to publish our legislative demands on Gandhi’s birthday October 2, it’s become clear that we can’t release these political prisoners by putting it into a bill. That change in policy will have to come from the man in the Oval Office.
America can do better than prosecuting men and women who are committed to transparency in government. As a sign of good faith, Mr. President, free these political prisoners who have paid their debt. Will you meet our terms?
Other articles on Medium:
A call to action around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s triple evils: The Marginalized Must Unionize in 2020
A look at our duties as Americans and the legislation they inspire; The Blueprint for a Better America