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NSA Official Who Leaked Wiretap Program Details to Reporter Indicted

Thomas A. Drake, a high level official with the National Security Agency, had been indicted in Maryland for making false statements and obstruction of justice into the investigation of who leaked details of Bush's warrantless NSA surveillance program to a newspaper in 2006 and 2007.

A federal grand jury in Maryland indicted Drake on five counts of retaining classified information without authorization, including four e-mails and one document copying classified information. He also was charged on one count of obstructing justice and four counts of making false statements to the FBI. The maximum prison terms for those charges range from five to 20 years.

From the DOJ press release: [More...]

The indictment alleges that between approximately February 2006 and November 2007, a newspaper reporter published a series of articles about the NSA. The indictment alleges that Drake served as a source for many of those articles, including articles that contained classified information. The indictment also alleges that Drake took a series of steps to facilitate the provision of this information to the reporter, including:

* exchanging hundreds of e-mails with and meeting with the reporter;
* researching stories for the reporter to write in the future by e-mailing unwitting NSA employees and accessing classified and unclassified documents on classified NSA networks;
* copying and pasting classified and unclassified information from NSA documents into untitled word processing documents which, when printed, had the classification markings removed;
* printing both classified and unclassified documents, bringing them to his home, and retaining them there without authority;
* scanning and emailing electronic copies of classified and unclassified documents to the reporter from his home computer; and
* reviewing, commenting on, and editing drafts of the reporter’s articles.

Via the Washington Post article linked above, Drake's public defender says:

"Mr. Drake loves his country. He's very disappointed that criminal charges were brought and we were not able to resolve this matter in another way," Wyda said. "This is a process and we now look forward to the next step in this process and litigating these matters in a public courtroom."

An interesting sidenote: The court docket shows Drake applied for and was granted the public defender as his attorney on April 5, prior to being indicted. The order states:
"ORDER APPOINTING COUNSEL FOR INDIVIDUAL NOT A NAMED DEFENDANT"

The above entitled individual having been found to be financially unable to obtain counsel and may be entitled to appointment of counsel under the Criminal Justice Act.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, this 5th day of April, 2010, that the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland is hereby appointed to represent the individual, Thomas A. Drake.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Let me get this straight... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Reasonable on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 01:39:21 PM EST
    The only person that is being convicted for the Bush Junta's illegal surviellence on americans is a patriot who revealed the crimes??


    Change "convicted"... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:59:26 PM EST
    to "threatened" and you've got it straight as an arrow my friend.

    Parent
    This looks like a job (none / 0) (#15)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:10:56 PM EST
    for jury nullification.

    Parent
    Amen Sister... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:15:44 PM EST
    We need a national epidemic of jury nullification, on many fronts.

    Parent
    Besides being a (none / 0) (#18)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:01:56 PM EST
    long-time member of the ACLU, I'm also a long-time member of the Fully Informed Jury Association.  Yes, they really don't want me on certain juries, because I happen to think that jury nullification is our right.  Thank goodness, it is also part of the Maryland State Constitution.
     
    Article 23 of Maryland's Constitution states:
    In the trial of all criminal cases, the Jury shall be the Judges of Law, as well as of fact, except that the
    Court may pass upon the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction. The right of trial by Jury
    of all issues of fact in civil proceedings in the several Courts of Law in this State, where the amount in
    controversy exceeds the sum of five thousand dollars, shall be inviolably preserved.


    Parent
    Yeah, that means (none / 0) (#19)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:05:07 PM EST
    You must follow the law as the judge explains it to you - not what you wish the law to be

    Parent
    Only my moms... (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 06:12:25 PM EST
    tells me what I must do, everyone else must use reason and persuasion.

    If I was on this cats jury I'd be a nullifying fool, no need to check the lawbooks, only my conscience.

    Parent

    It's still better (none / 0) (#25)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 05:05:52 PM EST
    than what we have in the US Constitution.  In any case, I happen to believe that jury nullification is embedded in English common law, and in this country's own laws, despite what judges may tell juries.  Pre-Civil War, juries in this country sometimes refused to convict for violations under the Fugitive Slave Act.  Juries also often nullified alcohol control laws during Prohibition.   John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US wrote:
    "It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision... you [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy". State of Georgia v. Brailsford

    See Link.

    Parent
    No (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 01:53:11 PM EST
    He's just been indicted. And if he revealed classified information, then he broke the law, whether or not we consider his actions patriotic.

    If it goes to trial, a jury may still acquit him.

    Parent

    Drake vis a vis Libby... (none / 0) (#29)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:26:22 PM EST
    As this unfolds, I expect pundits to make disingenuous comparisons between Alexander Drake and Scooter Libby.

    On the face of it, the difference would be that Scooter Libby was a miscreant hack who had "a political agenda and an ax to grind" (like discrediting Bush WMD critic Joe Wilson); while Alexander Drake may prove to be a "genuine whistle-blower, trying to shine light on a government wrong" (like Bush/Cheney's illegal wiretapping program).

    We know Bush didn't hesitate to commute Libby's sentence after he was convicted. If Drake is convicted, wouldn't Obama have the option of commuting his sentence as well? Just dreaming here.

    Parent

    The problem with leaking information (none / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:46:15 PM EST
    like this that you think is illegal.. is that others do not... and in fact it aids the enemy.

    Who watches the watchers has long been a issue in these matters and Congress can't even watch a ballgame without bailing out...
    ;-)

    The War On Terror, fought by (US Government disapproved verbiage) Islamic terrorists against us'uns, has several sticky issues we need to rationalize.

    Parent

    Obama Junta (none / 0) (#35)
    by Andreas on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 12:01:05 AM EST
    The problem is that the Obama Junta is not different from the Bush administration.

    Parent
    Irony Abounds (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:13:15 PM EST
    A federal grand jury in Maryland indicted Drake on five counts of retaining classified information...

    Cheney and his cabal destroyed were, by law, supposed to retain hundreds if not thousands of classified emails, that somehow went missing:

    Waxman said he decided to release the summary after White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday that there is "no evidence" that any White House e-mails from those years are missing. Fratto's assertion "seems to be an unsubstantiated statement that has no relation to the facts they have shared with us," Waxman said.

    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has now posted a series of studies to help us zero in on just what's missing. It will come as no surprise to most that the big offender is the man at the center of the most virulent scandals, and the missing email traffic relates just to those dates in which a federal prosecutor would have the most interest. Vice President Dick Cheney's office destroyed its emails, in violation of the requirements of the federal records act and potentially criminal law, for the following days....

    Scott Horton

    Whistle blowers that preserve emails get busted, while our trusted WH officials can do whatever they please and do not have to answer to the DOJ.

    Never expected to be writing this, but (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:32:39 PM EST
    I think you and I have had a mind-meld on this subject.

    I'm a little undone by it; will try to pull myself together.

    :-)

    Parent

    Group hug (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:33:05 PM EST
    There had to be something we all agree on.

    Parent
    I'm glad you're not pro-Cheney on this one. (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:54:29 PM EST
    On "this" one? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:58:01 PM EST
    Because I've been "pro" on other things Cheney before?

    What?

    I must need a vacation.

    Parent

    I can't tell you whether I was joking--- (none / 0) (#10)
    by observed on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:00:28 PM EST
    that's classified information, and anyway the files have been destroyed.

    Parent
    lol (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:10:41 PM EST
    lol (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:10:29 PM EST
    lol (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:55:14 PM EST
    Also from the (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 02:29:21 PM EST
    DOJ release:

    "As alleged, this defendant used a secret, non-government e-mail account to transmit classified and unclassified information that he was not authorized to possess or disclose. As if those allegations are not serious enough, he also allegedly later shredded documents and lied about his conduct to federal agents in order to obstruct their investigation," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. "Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here - violating the government's trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information - be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously."

    "The FBI takes very seriously allegations involving government employees who willfully retain or disclose classified information they are not authorized to possess. Working with prosecutors, we will continue to investigate and pursue charges against these individuals whose actions cannot be justified or tolerated," said Arthur M. Cummings II, FBI Executive Assistant Director, National Security Branch.

    So, does anyone else read this:

    we will continue to investigate and pursue charges against these individuals whose actions cannot be justified or tolerated

    and marvel at the irony?  I guess we've decided there are individuals whose actions CAN be justified AND tolerated!  Good to have that confirmed.

    Yes, I understand that laws are laws no matter who breaks them, but this seems to be one more  vigorous pursuit of justice that is limited to going after only those who expose the illegal acts of those higher up on the food chain.  

    Guess it's also a big, fat message to anyone else who might think about blowing the whistle, huh?

    Seems kind of "third-world" to me, but others may disagree.

    More like Daniel Ellsberg, circa 1971 (none / 0) (#28)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 06:37:29 PM EST
    From the WaPo story, Former NSA executive charged with leaking information to newspaper reporter (all emphasis added):
    An appellate court's opinion in the Plame leak case took note that not all leakers are the same, and differentiated between those who are genuine whistle-blowers, trying to shine light on a government wrong, and those with a political agenda or ax to grind...

    Both Bush and Obama administration officials have said that, even if leaks come from sources who seek to highlight policy disagreements, they compromise national security.

    "The previous administration fought that battle and wasn't successful, and the new administration came in and said, 'We're going to be more aggressive,' "
    said one former senior government official who has grappled with the issue. In a sense, the former official sad, "This has nothing to do with NSA. This has to do with the new administration being more aggressive. It's NSA executing this administration's policy."

    BTW, so far it appears that news coverage is not calling much attention to WHAT it is that Alexander Drake is charged with leaking. Not to put too fine a point on it, Obama's DOJ is prosecuting Drake for leaking Bush/Cheney's Wiretap Program.

    Parent

    I suppose the torture whistleblowers are next? (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lambert on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:22:34 PM EST
    Just to be thorough!

    * * *


    LINK: We've known since December, 2005, that Bush officials, including at the NSA, committed felonies by eavesdropping on Americans without the warrants required by law ...Yet there have been no criminal investigations, let alone indictments, for...high-level political officials who committed crimes while running the NSA...

    By stark contrast, an NSA official [Thomas Alexander Drake] who brought to the public's attention towering failures and waste at the NSA -- revelations that led to exposés that...were "honored with a top prize from the Society for Professional Journalists" -- is now being prosecuted for crimes that could lead to a lengthy prison term.  
    Why doesn't Obama's dictate that we "Look Forward, Not Backward," protect this NSA whistle-blower from prosecution at least as much as the high-level Bush officials who criminally spied on American citizens?

    Perhaps that last question answers itself.

    Parent

    Nope (5.00 / 0) (#21)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:25:35 PM EST
    You must follow the law as the judge explains it to you - not what you wish the law to be

    That's not what jury nullification means at all. Jury nullification refers to the jurors declining to bring a verdict precisely because they disagree with the law and wish it to be another way. One example is a drug trial, where a jury that doesn't believe in the Great War on Drugs would refuse to convict despite overwhelming evidence that the defendant is guilty.

    The famous "runaway grand jury" in the Rocky Flats trial was sort of a reverse jury nullification, but the same principle applied: The grand jury was told that the case was closed, and it insisted that it wanted indictments--the jurors wanted the DOJ to investigate the people who had committed environmental crimes in their state and not sweep them under the rug.

    And btw it's not some wacky fringe thing; jury nullification is enshrined as a right. Zorba (and btw the FIJA is a great organization) can correct me on this but AFAIK it's a right in every state, just that most jurors don't know they have this right.


    See my comment (none / 0) (#26)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 05:14:15 PM EST
    number 25.  Jury nullification has been a right since before we gained independence from England.  Most judges will not inform juries of this- in fact, they will often tell juries that they may not "judge the law," but only the "facts" of the case.  This is why I joined, and support, the FIJA.  

    Parent
    There was a case in CO (none / 0) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:52:06 PM EST
    I think in Jefferson County where some juror went against instructions and wound up getting in hot water. Maybe someone remembers the details.

    Parent
    There have been (none / 0) (#33)
    by Zorba on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 08:37:56 PM EST
    several cases where jurors got into trouble because they went against the judge's instructions.  I, too, cannot remember the details, only that it has happened.  More than once.  

    Parent
    I do look forward to this (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by ruffian on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 04:36:59 PM EST
    Mr. Drake loves his country. He's very disappointed that criminal charges were brought and we were not able to resolve this matter in another way," Wyda said. "This is a process and we now look forward to the next step in this process and litigating these matters in a public courtroom."

    Any thoughts on whether this case will ever be actually tried in an open court?

    If you can't do the time (1.00 / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:42:08 PM EST
    then don't do the crime.

    Fine....jail him (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 05:01:52 PM EST
    Make him a household name and hero.  He ought to be one anyhow.

    Parent
    Well, if you don't mind (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:48:00 PM EST
    I think we should try him first.

    Parent
    Really Jim? (none / 0) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 11:38:42 PM EST
    Didn't I respond to you saying if you can't do the time don't do the crime?  Sounds like you are done trying him before he even gets there, sounds like I'm finding the silver lining.  I suppose it really doesn't matter if he's jailed, the daily coverage of his trial will do what needs done as well....after mild debate he will become the American hero he should already be and the household name he already should be.

    Parent
    Well, if you to keep anything a secret, (none / 0) (#11)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:01:13 PM EST
    don't use the e-mail. It's all there.

    "Want" to keep that is... (none / 0) (#12)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 03:02:00 PM EST