Podcast: Billie Winner-Davis speaks out
Billie Winner-Davis is the mother of jailed NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner. In this podcast, she shares her fears about what’s next for her family as Trump’s Department of Justice looks to make an example out of her daughter for allegedly sharing documents vital to the public’s understanding of potential Russian interference in U.S. election systems to a news organization.
Billie shared: “My worst fear is that she’s going to be made an example of. She’s the first person who is being charged with this under the Trump administration, and this administration has verbally expressed that they want to go strong against the leakers. I ask that the American people really just pay attention to this, and make sure that she gets a fair trial. Make sure that she’s treated fairly, and keep an open mind as far as who she is, and what she has done for our country.”
Eric Klein: This is the Courage to Resist podcast. I’m your host, Eric Klein, and this episode is the first on Reality Winner.
Billie Winner: I just think about basic training, and I think, “Wow, that takes a lot for a young person to actually volunteer for.” In one of her letters home to me she had said that any chance that she could, she volunteered for bathroom duty to clean the bathroom because she said while you’re scrubbing the toilets out with a toothbrush, nobody’s screaming in your face.
Eric Klein: Reality Winner is a 25-year-old Air Force veteran who was arrested in Augusta, Georgia on June 3rd. She’s accused of one count of taking classified information home from her work as a federal contractor and leaking it to the media. She has pleaded not guilty. Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis and I spoke on the 4th of July 2017, just about a month after her arrest.
Billie Winner: My worst fear is that she’s going to be made an example of. She’s the first person who is being charged with this under the Trump Administration, and this administration has verbally expressed that they want to go strong against the leakers. I ask that the American people really just pay attention to this and make sure that she gets a fair trial, make sure that she’s treated fairly. Keep an open mind as far as who she is and what she has done for our country.
Eric Klein: Billie Winner-Davis was on the line from her home in Kingsville, Texas. I began the interview by asking her if she had any big plans for Independence Day?
Billie Winner: No, we really don’t have any plans at all. I don’t know, I don’t really feel like celebrating. It’s not really a right time for us to celebrate yet. We just basically are hanging out at home.
Eric Klein: When was the last time you were with Reality for the July 4th holiday?
Billie Winner: For the July 4th holiday, it would have been probably about five years ago because when she was at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, we actually went and we had a big picnic with her and her friends there because she was there for intelligence training.
Eric Klein: Tell me about the picnic.
Billie Winner: They have a big lake there and we went to this lake and we had bought all the meat and food and everything for the picnic and she actually, she had some really close friends that she had gone to language school with in Monterey and they were all there at Goodfellow together as well. There were basically like three couples. When she was at Goodfellow, my husband and I would make the trip whenever we possibly could, to go and spend some time with her and her friends and got to hang out with all of them, and it was a good time. It was fun. Really the thing that they enjoyed most was playing card games. It was rather mild entertainment but it was good, clean family fun and it was nice to get to know them because they had all adopted Reality as the little sister of the bunch.
It was great for us to be able to spend our long weekend with them, and so yeah, we did spend the 4th of July out there in San Angelo. I had forgotten about that until just now.
Eric Klein: Did you say Goodfellow was a base?
Billie Winner: Yeah, it’s an Air Force base in Texas. It’s in San Angelo, Texas. That’s where they send, I guess, all of the linguists for intelligence training. It was about a 10 hour drive for us, but we would make it. Any time that we would have an opportunity to make a long weekend of it, we would go. We were actually there for the graduation.
Eric Klein: What do you remember from the graduation?
Billie Winner: The graduation is when they all were told where their next assignment was, where they were going to be stationed next. Of course then she was told that she was going to be going to Maryland, and one of the couples that she was very close with was stationed in Georgia there, but the other ones were all in Maryland. It was a nice ceremony. It was a nice celebration, and then we all went to eat at a restaurant there in San Angelo and really had a nice dinner and celebrated their graduation.
Eric Klein: Can you tell me what that graduation meant to Reality?
Billie Winner: That graduation was basically I guess the finishing up of her schooling. One of things that Reality had said about wanting to join the Air Force was that she didn’t want to be in school any longer. What happened is when she went into the Air Force, she ended up being in school a lot longer than she thought she would. The graduation from Goodfellow was actually the end of her actual training. It meant that she would actually begin her career, begin her work with the Air Force.
Eric Klein: What was that work?
Billie Winner: She was a linguist, and I’m really not sure what she actually did as a job in the Air Force. I know that she was a Middle East linguist. They trained her in Farsi, Dari and Pashto. She worked at the NSA there, Fort Meade in Maryland. I know that she worked nights, and I know that she did real time work, real time interpretations.
Eric Klein: Do you know why she got interested in doing this sort of work with foreign languages?
Billie Winner: I’m not real sure what actually got her into it. I know that she has an older brother, my husband’s oldest son is in the air force and he’s a Russian linguist. We think that probably she saw him as a role model and thought that it was something that she wanted to do. During her high school years is when she actually started studying Arabic. She ordered Arabic studying books and things from Amazon, and she was teaching herself how to speak Arabic even before she signed up with the air force.
Eric Klein: It’s a lot of hard work. I’m impressed.
Billie Winner: She’s very smart. She’s a very smart person, and one thing about her is she loves to learn. There’s really nothing, I mean when she’s interested in something, she goes head first and she learns about everything.
Eric Klein: When was the last time you had a chance to speak with her?
Billie Winner: I spoke with her on Sunday night.
Eric Klein: How’s she doing?
Billie Winner: She sounded really good on Sunday. She had had a visit from a friend of hers in Maryland, and so that kind of broke up her monotony. She sounded like she was doing really well. She said that she had already mailed off an art piece for me, and she was working on the second art piece for me. I had sent her some sketch books so that she could take that up again because in high school, and even after high school, she was a very talent artist. She enjoyed sketching and painting. For the last five or six years she hasn’t done any of that, and so I had sent her some sketch books, and so she’s been doing that again.
Eric Klein: Drawing and sketching?
Billie Winner: Yes.
Eric Klein: Sending some back to you so you can have it?
Billie Winner: Yes. I’m excited. This week I should get her first one. She said she had already sent it out in the mail.
Eric Klein: Do you know what it’s going to be or is it a surprise?
Billie Winner: I have no idea what it’s going to be, no. I don’t know.
Eric Klein: Fun. Well you’ll let me know what it is?
Billie Winner: Okay, yeah.
Eric Klein: That’s something that I care deeply about. You guys are dealing with this very serious moment in what’s turning into Reality’s case, which you’re awaiting the trial date, which is set for October I understand.
Billie Winner: Yes. What we know is that they have tentatively set it for October 23rd. I’m hoping that there’s no delays.
Eric Klein: Why no delays? October seems so far away, why would they delay it at all?
Billie Winner: I guess at this last hearing, we weren’t there, but last week, Tuesday they had a hearing and that was basically to discuss the release of evidence and the classification and how they were going to handle all of that. The prosecution had filed a motion to I guess be able to withhold information that they felt was classified. From what I read, again, we were not there at the hearing, but from what I read, is that they were telling the judge that this is so complex that they really needed a lot of time. They were going through a lot of evidence, and so I guess I fear that they’re going to try to stall it. I hope that the judge really does keep them to this timeline that he set forward.
I know that he did say in the hearing last week that he was concerned because she’s being held without bail at this moment and she’s only being charged with one count. This is not a crime against persons. She’s not a threat or a danger to society, and she has no prior record. To me it’s pretty unfair that she was denied bail. So, I’m hopeful that now that we have a timeline, and we do have a trial date, I hope that there’s no delays in that whatsoever because it’s really unfair for her to have to be in jail throughout this entire course of time.
Eric Klein: It’s a hardship for you guys.
Billie Winner: Yes, it is. Yes.
Eric Klein: Would you like to be there if you could?
Billie Winner: Yeah, our plans are definitely to be there. We had to return home to Texas because of course we have our work and our lives and things that we need to prepare for down here. We definitely will be back up in Georgia for the trial and probably beforehand, depending on any other court dates that there might be.
Eric Klein: She’s being held in Georgia, is that right?
Billie Winner: Yes, she’s being held in Georgia.
Eric Klein: Where is that?
Billie Winner: She’s being held in a small town about an hour away from Augusta. It’s called Lincolnton.
Eric Klein: I’m sorry, have you had a chance to visit there or just you’ve been able to speak with her on the phone from there?
Billie Winner: We’ve been able to speak with her on the phone, but of course all of our phone conversations are recorded, and so we don’t talk about the case. We don’t talk about upcoming trial or any of that.
Eric Klein: No, of course.
Billie Winner: We did go to visit her on the weekend of the 10th and the 11th.
Eric Klein: Of June?
Billie Winner: That was the only opportunity that we had. Of June, yes. That was the only opportunity.
Eric Klein: Tell me about that visit. What was it like?
Billie Winner: We drove from Augusta. We were staying at her house there in Augusta, and we drove from Augusta to Lincolnton. It’s about an hour drive.
Eric Klein: You were staying in her house?
Billie Winner: Yes.
Eric Klein: Without her though.
Billie Winner: Yes.
Eric Klein: What’s that like?
Billie Winner: It was sad. It was very sad to be there without her. We had not even had a chance to even visit with her there in Augusta, so this was basically our first time in Augusta. We made the drive when she contacted us to let us know that she was being arrested and my husband was contacted by the FBI agents who indicated that she was going to be arrested and there was going to be a hearing that following Monday.
Eric Klein: You got that call late at night I understand?
Billie Winner: It was early in the evening on June the 3rd. Then she reached out to us and asked if we could possibly go and take care of her house and take care of her cat. She had had somebody come in and take the dog that she was fostering, and then she was very worried about her cat, what was going to happen to her cat and the house and stuff. We made the drive. We took off early Sunday morning and we drove straight through and we got there very early Monday morning. Then Monday we went to the court appearance that was scheduled that afternoon, and at that time, it was a strange hearing. They told her she wasn’t charged formally yet, but they told her there was a complaint against her and that she was being detained.
It was very little information shared at the time of that court hearing. They basically told her that the complaint was that she had mishandled classified information and had given the classified information to an outside media source. Go ahead.
Eric Klein: I’m sorry. I’m wondering if she was in the courtroom? Was that the first time you got to see her?
Billie Winner: Yeah, she was there in the courtroom. She was. We didn’t get to talk to her. We didn’t get to go near her. She was in shackles. She was in an orange jumpsuit, which for a mother is very difficult to see your child. We did get to see her. We did get to see that she was okay. Leaving that courtroom, we still did not have a sense of exactly what she was being charged with. It wasn’t until we saw it on the internet that night and I was told from reporters basically what she was being charged with.
Eric Klein: It was just a very, very blank space in your knowledge of what was happening for about a day?
Billie Winner: Yes, it was. We really did not know. We didn’t know. Then of course I was a little shocked at hearing that the document that she was alleged to have had accessed and leaked was with regard to the Russians and their interference with the election, that just shocked me because that’s not even the area that she works in. She works in the Middle Eastern area.
Eric Klein: You were telling me about having a chance to visit her there in the prison where she’s being held in Augusta or outside of Augusta?
Billie Winner: Yeah. It’s actually a very small county jail. It’s much smaller than what I had thought it would be. It’s very small, which I guess I’m happy about. I’m happy that she’s in a smaller facility. I feel better having her at a small facility rather than a large facility. The visitation hours for females at the jail are basically, there’s Saturday and Sunday morning from eight to nine.
Eric Klein: Wow.
Billie Winner: That’s it. That’s the only opportunity to visit a female inmate at that center. Because there were two of us, they had to split our time up, my husband and I.
Eric Klein: You couldn’t go together?
Billie Winner: No, we couldn’t go together.
Eric Klein: Would you have liked to go together?
Billie Winner: Yes. I lean on my husband a lot for strength and he’s the same way, and I just feel like it was awkward for them to split us up like that. Now the second day they allowed me in first, and I know that they ran my time over beyond the 30 minutes. The first day that we went to visit her, I got 30 minutes and I was told I needed to leave and then my husband went in and he visited with her for 30 minutes. The second day, that Sunday, I was in there and I know that they ran the time over, and I guess what had happened is then they asked my husband, he was there in the lobby, and they asked him, “Oh were you also going to visit,” and he said yes. They let him in and I tried to exit but the door was locked, and so we both were in there for the last 15 minutes together.
Again, we don’t get to touch her. The visits are through glass and on the phone.
Eric Klein: Of course, you didn’t talk at all about the details of the case or what she was charged with. What did you guys talk about?
Billie Winner: We talked about the house. I had let her know that we had packed up basically all of her pictures and belongings. We had made the decision that we were going to just leave the necessities at the house, the bed, the couch, the kitchen things, things that you would need to stay there, and that we were going to continue to pay the rent at the house so that we had a place to come to when we needed to. We talked about her cat. We had made the decision that we would keep the cat where the cat was. A friend of hers had taken the cat in and we had gone to visit them, the cat and spend some time with her and we felt like she was in a good place, so we were going to leave her.
We talked about going by the gym and picking up her equipment and emptying out her locker at the gym, talked about talking with her neighbors and her friends, things like that. Asked her how she was doing definitely. Just tried to keep it as light as we possibly could for her, and let her know that we were going to be returning back to Texas and that we would be writing her and we’d be making sure that we have to make sure that she has I guess money in her account so that she can always have a calling card and she can call us.
Eric Klein: Does she get to spend money on anything else other than phone calls?
Billie Winner: Yes. She had to buy her own towel, t-shirts, shorts, socks, things like that, necessities. We made sure that she had money in her account for that, plus stamps and things like that. When we went, we did drop her off some stamps. She has to buy envelopes and paper.
Eric Klein: I understand that your daughter, Reality Winner, didn’t talk about her job with you out of necessity. What was her life like prior to the day before that you got the call and had to drive out to Augusta?
Billie Winner: I had talked with her that Thursday night before her arrest, and her life was very full. She’s a very rounded person who is involved in a lot of different things. She had of course her job. She also taught yoga. I know that she was teaching two classes per week. She also had begun to teach private, there were some private citizens that have reached out to her and have had wanted to hire her as a private instruction. She also taught spinning at another gym. She did Cross Fit, which she was religious about and she was training for her first weight lifting competition, which was supposed to be in June. It was going to be the weekend of June 24th. She was excited about that.
Let me see, what else was she doing? She had run a marathon, it was called the Mud Run. I believe it was for the marines or the army. They were in Augusta, and she was telling me that she was all bruised up and beat up from that because I guess it’s a run in the mud and it’s like an obstacle course.
Eric Klein: Yeah, I think I’ve seen pictures of people doing such activities. Was she an athlete in high school?
Billie Winner: She was. Yes, she was. In high school, she played tennis and she also was on the soccer team. She enjoyed physical activity a lot.
Eric Klein: At what point in her life did she decide to join the military, to enter into the air force?
Billie Winner: It was in her senior year. She had been looking at a bunch of different things. I know that she had meetings at the university here in town. She was looking at their engineering program, and then she had also met with the army. She actually did her testing for the military to the army, but then had decided to join the air force. When she was a senior in high school, it was before graduation where she had actually made up her mind and she had signed the contract, signed the enlistment I guess in the air force. She went into a delayed entry program basically. They didn’t have a position for her yet. They knew that she was coming on and they knew that she had signed the contract to be an air force linguist, but they didn’t have a position open yet, so they do a delayed entry. She basically from June to December, she got her start date in December of that year.
During that time frame, she had to go weekly and do training with the recruiter in Corpus Christi.
Eric Klein: This was when she was just out of high school you said?
Billie Winner: Yes, just outside of high school, yes.
Eric Klein: What can you tell me about who she made such a significant decision, to make such a strong commitment towards a way of life at such a young age?
Billie Winner: Well she’s always been very committed to the world and making the world a better place. She’s always been very interested in what’s going on worldwide and in the country, and she’s always been really dedicated to doing her part. She was raised here in South Texas, and both myself and my husband at one point, we both worked for Child Protective Services, and she was always involved with every activity in the community with regard to our candlelight vigils, any kind of children’s festivals that we had. She always volunteered for all of that. She’s always been one to be involved. She’s always been one to be very, very involved in her community and in her world. That’s the only thing that I can think of as far as what made her want to actually go and serve her country.
I really don’t know what it is within herself that made her want to because I just think about basic training and I think, “Wow, that takes a lot for a young person to actually volunteer for.”
Eric Klein: Were you in contact with her when she was going through basic training?
Billie Winner: As much as we could be, as much as we could be. They really limit the contact that they get, that they have with their family.
Eric Klein: Of course. How was she feeling about the limited contact that you did have? Was she very excited? Did she regret the choice to put herself through so much physical punishment?
Billie Winner: I know that it wasn’t easy for her. I know that it was not an easy, basic training wasn’t a breeze. That was not a breeze for her.
Eric Klein: Who is it easy for? That’s a real good question.
Billie Winner: I know. I know that the physical part she had already trained. She was there. She already had met all the physical, the running and things like that, but the mental part, I think that was a whole different experience for her. I know that in one of her letters home to me, she had said that any chance that she could, she volunteered for bathroom duty to clean the bathroom because she said while you’re scrubbing the toilets out with a toothbrush, nobody is screaming in your face. That to me was like, “Wow.” Who puts themselves into that position? Somebody who’s very dedicated. I know that another very difficult part for her was the gas mask exercise because she does have claustrophobia, and then to be in that gas mask and they actually gas them.
She told me about some very trying times that she had in basic that she wasn’t sure if she was going to get through but she did.
Eric Klein: Then tell me about the next stage of her military career.
Billie Winner: After basic training, the day after graduation they basically put her on a plane and she went out to Monterey, California for the language school out there. It’s called the Defensive Language Institute. It’s where they train all of the linguists for the armed forces. She was out there for about two years. She did get to come home. She came home for Christmas that year, and she enjoyed Monterey. She enjoyed the language school a lot. She really enjoyed that.
Eric Klein: Monterey, it’s hard to beat Monterey for weather and landscape, the beauty of the place.
Billie Winner: Landscape, yeah, it’s gorgeous, yes. While she was there, she actually bought a camera and she had took up photography. She actually made me a little photo book of Monterey and the different things through the eyes of her camera lens. For her, it wasn’t just the water and this and that. She would focus in on something like vines on a church, things like that, just beautiful things that she took pictures of and sent me this picture book. She enjoyed her time out in Monterey. Couldn’t get enough of the deer. I guess the school out there, there’s just deer that are so friendly and they basically take over the whole campus.
Eric Klein: Tell me about the other people that she knew, her colleagues in the military.
Billie Winner: There was a couple that they had a baby boy, and she was extremely close to them and their baby boy. Then they had another baby girl. Then there was another couple that was actually from the New York area, and she was very close to them and she still is. She still is very close to them. She did start her relationship when she was out there in Monterey and that continued when they went to Goodfellow here in Texas. It was basically the three couples that hung out. She went to the baptism of the baby and different things, birthday parties, things like that.
Eric Klein: Those are the people that you guys all had the picnic with on July 4th?
Billie Winner: Yes.
Eric Klein: Did you say five years ago? Gosh.
Billie Winner: I think it was about five years ago, yeah, in San Angelo. We rented these little kayak things too and went out on the water in the kayaks.
Eric Klein: Billie Winner-Davis, we’re talking about your daughter, Reality Winner. What do you want people to know at this stage? What’s important information for people to be aware of today?
Billie Winner: I would just want people to keep an open mind and wait for the evidence to come out and wait for the trial before passing judgment on her, for sure. I also want people to really pay attention to this to make sure that she does get a fair trial. My worst fear is that she’s going to be made an example of. She’s the first person who is being charged with this under the Trump Administration, and this administration has verbally expressed that they want to go strong against the leakers. I ask that the American people really just pay attention to this and make sure that she gets a fair trial, make sure that she’s treated fairly and keep an open mind as far as who she is and what she has done for our country. Don’t just condemn her.
I guess I don’t want this to be about whether you like Trump or not. I want this to be about treating a person who’s been charged with a very serious crime fairly. I don’t think that it was fair that she was denied bail. The prosecution didn’t put up any evidence whatsoever to show that she was a danger. What they did was they took information about her and twisted it into a sinister type of a plot. Basically if you were there in the courtroom, you heard that she’s been planning this since she was a child. It was unfair. It was all unfair. I don’t think that the law was followed.
I don’t really want this to become about whether you’re for Trump or against Trump. What I want this to be is for people to just watch what happens to Reality.
Eric Klein: As far as that goes, you guys have your lawyer. You hired a lawyer from Augusta, is that right?
Billie Winner: Yes. Actually this is her lawyer, and she’s the one that did hire him. He was initially appointed by the court to represent her in that very first hearing where they read the complaint to her, but at that very first hearing she was also advised that she did not meet the criteria to be eligible for a court appointed attorney, and so she was told that if she wanted representation, she would have to hire her own attorney, and she was also going to be billed for that court appearance.
Eric Klein: How did she make this choice? It sounds very stressful, it sounds like.
Billie Winner: Yeah, it was very stressful. Mr. Nichols, he spoke with her that day at the courthouse, and then I guess he went to the jail the following morning and he spoke with her. She did make the decision to go ahead and hire him.
Eric Klein: Have you had a chance to meet with him?
Billie Winner: Yes, we’ve met with him and the senior partner in the law firm, John Bell. We’ve met with both of them. We spent time with them. We talked with them about the case. We met with them before the bail hearing on that Thursday, and we’ve definitely kept in contact with Titus Nichols and their law firm through this. I’ve heard that people are saying that they don’t really know if Titus Nichols is qualified to handle a case like this. I do feel comfortable and confident in his abilities. I feel like he can handle this, and he has reassured us that if at any time that he needs to bring on somebody else, he won’t hesitate to do that.
Eric Klein: It’s going to end up being a jury trial, right?
Billie Winner: Yes.
Eric Klein: Members of the Augusta, Georgia community are going to end up sitting in judgment of Reality Winner when the time comes, and his experience in the community might not hurt.
Billie Winner: Yes. I don’t think that that would hurt at all. Plus he was a JAG as well, and he’s still in the army reserves, so he also has that military experience behind him as well. Mr. John Bell has been an attorney there in Augusta for many, many years.
Eric Klein: We know that the court date is set for October. Is there anything else that will be happening between last Tuesday and next October?
Billie Winner: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m sure there’s going to be some procedural hearings that will take place, but I really don’t know what else is going to be taking place before the trial.
Eric Klein: Do you have any plans to go visit again?
Billie Winner: Yes, we do. I do. Yes, we do. I am trying to actually relocate up there probably in the end of August or early September. I’m looking at the possibility of taking early retirement from my job so that I can relocate up there.
Eric Klein: That’s a big decision.
Billie Winner: Yeah, but to me it’s a no brainer. This is my child. This is my daughter.
Eric Klein: Yeah, of course.
Billie Winner: While I’ll miss my home here, I just feel like it was hard leaving Augusta and coming back down to Texas. I felt like we were abandoning her. It can’t feel right being here. Even if the only opportunity that I get to visit with her is Saturday and Sunday morning, I guess that’s going to be better than nothing.
Eric Klein: Eight to nine AM.
Billie Winner: Eight to nine AM, yes, that’s it. Through glass, and it’s recorded. That’s the one thing that I guess I thought the system was fair, but I guess I’m learning that it really isn’t. People who are convicted of crimes have more rights than Reality has at this point.
Eric Klein: How so?
Billie Winner: Well I’ve heard people who are in prison who have been convicted and who are in prison, they actually get to have visits where they get to hug one another. I don’t get that with her. They actually have visits where they can visit for two hours, three hours. With Reality, we don’t get that. To me, I feel like this is so restricted.
Eric Klein: You’ve been interviewed in the media and on television and by newspapers. How has that experience been? How do you feel about the way that you’ve been treated by other journalists?
Billie Winner: Overall, I think all of the journalists that we have been in contact with have been very decent with us. Everybody’s been supportive. At least that’s how I have felt. Now I haven’t seen any of the interviews. I’ve seen some of the press, but I have not seen any of my interviews.
Eric Klein: You don’t watch yourself on television?
Billie Winner: No. That’s not something that I want to do. While we were in Georgia, staying at Reality’s house, of course, she didn’t have television. We were kind of in the dark about everything. I didn’t know what was being put out there. I didn’t know what was being shown. It was probably for the best because, like I say, I don’t want to sit down and watch myself on television at all. This is a whole different world that we’re in right now. Never did I expect ever to be in a situation like this. We live a very quiet life, and it’s just I never imagined how it would change in a heartbeat, but it has changed in a heartbeat. We’re doing whatever we can, my husband and I. We’re doing whatever we can to make sure that everybody hears the other side too, and that everybody hears that our daughter is a good person. She’s always been a good person.
She has served her country in every way that you can imagine, and I just don’t want people to pass judgment on her and condemn her without knowing everything.
Eric Klein: Or forget.
Billie Winner: Or forget about her, that’s right, because October’s a long way away. People could just forget that she’s there.
Eric Klein: There’s a lot going on in the news these says.
Billie Winner: There is. Every single day. Yesterday’s story gets pushed to the back and you don’t hear about it again, so yeah. I don’t want people to forget that she’s still there. She’s still in jail. She’s still alone. I think that’s about it.
Eric Klein: We’re here. She’s alone physically where she is, but her supporters are out there.
Billie Winner: Yes, I know that they are. That has really helped. I think that’s what’s gotten us through this. I don’t know where we would be without the countless people who have been so kind and who have reached out to us and who have offered assistance and who are actively doing things to help support Reality and us through this. Prior to this, I didn’t know about this world and I am so grateful that there are people out there in their organizations, and Courage to Resist, who are out there, who jump in and help. I don’t know where we would be without them. Looking at the work that they’d done before, I know that they worked with the Chelsea Manning cause and I was very impressed with everything that they were able to accomplish in her case.
Talking with them and talking with others, I knew that we can’t do this alone. For me to even begin to navigate through this situation by ourselves, or even just with our GoFundMe account, and things like that, we need somebody who knows what they’re doing. I was real impressed with Courage to Resist. When they said that they could take her case, even though her case didn’t really meet their criteria but they were willing to at least take her case to advocate for her, it means the world to me because not only are they going to be raising money for her legal defense, they’ll also be raising awareness out there. Reality won’t be forgotten. There will be a whole organization behind her that will keep her story going and continue to be on her side.
That to me, that means everything. That’s what’s keeping us going. That’s what is really keeping us afloat here. If it were just us, I feel like it’s David and Goliath. We don’t stand a chance. We don’t really stand a chance against the United States government. I feel like with them on our side and all the other people who have come forward to support and help us, you don’t feel alone and you feel like you have a chance.
Eric Klein: Thanks so much to Billie Winner-Davis, mother of Reality Winner, for taking the time to record that interview with us. The website, for more information, and to learn how to support Reality Winner is StandWithReality.org. That’s StandWithReality.org. My name is Eric Klein and this has been the Courage to Resist podcast. Subscribe to it wherever you get your podcasts. You could also find this and previous episodes online at CourageToResist.org. Thanks for listening.