NSA whistleblower prosecutions continue under Obama

Thomas Drake

Thomas Drake

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Legal observers were surprised late last week when a grand jury in Baltimore indicted a former senior official of the US National Security Agency (NSA) for leaking classified information to a local newspaper reporter. The indictment, which was publicized last Thursday, accuses Thomas A. Drake of exchanging hundreds of email messages with a reporter, in which he exposed aspects of the NSA’s alleged mismanagement and operational deficiencies. Court documents do not identify the reporter, or the news outlet for which she worked. But most observers have identified her as Siobhan Gorman, who now works for The Wall Street Journal. Between 2006 and 2007, while working for The Baltimore Sun, Gorman authored a series of articles on the NSA, exposing, among other things, severe mismanagement of outsourced signals collection programs, as well as the Agency’s trouble in securing enough electrical supply for its computational requirements. Drake began his NSA career as a contractor in 1991, and formally joined the Agency in 2001, working until 2008 in the Agency’s Signals Intelligence and Engineering directorates. The indictment mentions that Drake first contacted the reporter at the urging of a close friend (identified by Newsweek magazine as Republican House Intelligence Committee staffer Diane S. Roark), and soon began supplying her with information via Hushmail, a Canada-based encrypted email service provider. Interestingly, however, Hushmail lifted the strong encryption on Drake’s correspondence, once it was presented with a court order by a Canadian court that assisted the US investigation into the case. The unencrypted emails revealed that Drake met the reporter several times in downtown Washington DC, and provided her with copies of classified NSA documents. In addition to leaking classified information, Drake has been indicted on allegedly obstructing the US government investigation by shredding documents, deleting electronic data, and lying to investigators. Some, including Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, have commended Drake for helping facilitate “important public-interest reporting”. But the White House does not seem to agree. The New York Times’ Scott Shane points out that Drake’s surprise indictment “suggests the Obama administration may be no less aggressive than the Bush administration in pursuing whistleblowers and reporters’ sources who disclose government secrets” –an obvious reference to NSA’s STELLAR WIND project whistleblower Thomas M. Tamm, who is still fearful of getting arrested by the FBI.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to NSA whistleblower prosecutions continue under Obama

  1. action says:

    this guy should be commended. and the government should have no secrets. simple as that

  2. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Anyone who bothers to read the NSA
    Security Guidelines Handbook can not
    possibly misunderstand the requirements
    and responsibility placed upon each and
    every employee of that organisation.

    Even if you just read the “introduction”
    you can’t get it wrong !( Unless of course
    you don’t understand plain English or
    you permanently reside in a place
    called Fantasialand.)

    This is not Whistleblowing – rather it’s
    one individual compromising the security
    of your Nation and possibly that of other
    countries. 17 years of potential damage –
    (makes the FBI’s “Hansen Affair” look
    like kindergarten stuff !!)

    As for the seperate issue of Public Interest Reporting ? In this case I think this debacle
    well exceeds that level.

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