Politics|Ex-Intelligence Analyst Is Sentenced for Leaking to a Reporter
The erstwhile U.S. contractor admitted to disclosing details of the government’s drone warfare program.
July 27, 2021, 5:49 p.m. ET
A erstwhile quality contractor who disclosed details of the American drone warfare programme to a newsman was sentenced connected Tuesday to astir 4 years successful prison.
The erstwhile official, Daniel E. Hale, 33, was moving arsenic a declaration worker with a information clearance astatine the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erstwhile helium provided documents to a newsman for The Intercept, a quality tract that specializes successful quality matters.
He was primitively charged successful 2019 with assorted counts including disclosing quality accusation and theft of authorities property. In March, Mr. Hale pleaded guilty to retaining and transmitting nationalist defence information. On Tuesday, Judge Liam O’Grady of U.S. District Court sentenced Mr. Hale to 45 months successful prison.
According to tribunal documents, Mr. Hale primitively began communicating with an investigative newsman successful 2013, portion helium was successful the U.S. Air Force and was assigned arsenic an quality expert to the National Security Agency. Then successful February 2014, aft leaving the Air Force and becoming a contractor astatine the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, helium gave classified documents to The Intercept.
While The Intercept has not confirmed that Mr. Hale was its source, astatine the clip of his indictment, Betsy Reed, the site’s exertion successful chief, said the documents it published were of “vital nationalist importance.”
“These documents elaborate a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and sidesplitting radical astir the world, including U.S. citizens, done drone strikes,” she said.
While The Intercept has had high-profile scoops based connected quality documents, the authorities has besides found, prosecuted and imprisoned 2 of its sources. In summation to Mr. Hale’s conviction, Reality Winner, a erstwhile National Security Agency contractor who anonymously sent a papers to The Intercept, was sentenced to 63 months successful prison. Ms. Winner past period was released aboriginal to a halfway house for bully behavior.
After his blameworthy plea, Mr. Hale sought to explicate his actions successful a neatly handwritten 11-page missive to the judge. He began with a statement of the post-traumatic accent and slump helium suffered from, which were related to his Air Force work and deployment to Afghanistan successful 2012.
In the letter, Mr. Hale described however portion stationed astatine Bagram Air Base, helium would way down the determination of cellphones that helium said were “believed to beryllium successful the possession of alleged force combatants.” Then helium would person drones behaviour surveillance connected the targets to “document the day-to-day lives of suspected militants.”
Mr. Hale wrote that helium took contented with the information that equipped military-age men who were successful the beingness of a tracked combatant were considered acceptable targets erstwhile the drone operators launched their missiles, sidesplitting the assembled group.
“How could it beryllium considered honorable of maine to continuously person laid successful hold for the adjacent accidental to termination unsuspecting persons, who, much often than not, are posing nary information to maine oregon immoderate different idiosyncratic astatine the time,” Mr. Hale wrote.
As his work continued, Mr. Hale became progressively convinced that the warfare successful Afghanistan had small to bash with preventing violent attacks successful the United States, particularly arsenic helium witnessed children inadvertently killed successful strikes gone wrong, helium wrote.
Mr. Hale attended antiwar conferences aft leaving the Air Force, but decided to instrumentality the occupation with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency having been offered a lucrative paycheck. When friends astatine the bureau began viewing aged footage of drone strikes, helium said, his conscience “came roaring backmost to life.” Hoping to assistance halt the rhythm of violence, helium reached retired to a reporter, helium said successful the letter.
Lawyers for Mr. Hale said that the 45-month condemnation handed down by the tribunal was excessively agelong for their lawsuit to enactment successful prison, but were grateful that the justice listened to Mr. Hale.
“The bottommost enactment is that Mr. Hale acted retired of conscience,” Todd M. Richman, a national nationalist defender, said successful an email. “His disclosures didn’t harm anyone but were of captious nationalist importance.”