NSA Warrantless Surveillance Whistleblower Faces Possible 20 Year Prison Sentence

AFP via Raw Story:

A former senior executive of the top secret National Security Agency (NSA) who allegedly leaked classified information to a newspaper reporter via email has been indicted on multiple charges, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Thomas Drake, 52, was charged in a 10-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Maryland, the department said in a statement.

…He faces one charge of obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and four charges of making false statements, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Drake apparently was a source for a series of articles by Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman, outlining violations of privacy, waste and mismanagement in the NSA’s $1.2 billion “Trailblazer” program. Government contractors ran up the costs, while ignoring the law.

Glenn Greenwald comments on the extreme hypocrisy of the Obama administration:

It’s true that leaking classified information is a crime. That’s what makes whistleblowers like Drake so courageous. That’s why Daniel Ellsberg — who literally risked his liberty in an effort to help end the Vietnam War — is one of the 20th Century’s genuine American heroes. And if political-related crimes were punished equally, one could accept whistle-blower prosecutions even while questioning the motives behind them and the priorities they reflect. But that’s not the situation that prevails.

Instead, here you have the Obama DOJ in all its glory: no prosecutions (but rather full-scale immunity extended) for war crimes, torture, and illegal spying. For those crimes, we must Look Forward, Not Backward. But for those poor individuals who courageously blow the whistle on oozing corruption, waste and illegal surveillance by the omnipotent public-private Surveillance State: the full weight of the “justice system” comes crashing down upon them with threats of many years in prison.

Meanwhile, it appears that the DOJ is wrapping up the criminal investigation into the 2005 destruction of CIA torture tapes. How much you want to bet that NO ONE is going to be prosecuted for torturing detainees and then destroying the evidence?

Worst of all, how are we going to find out about crimes committed in secret by our government if talking to the news media is regarded as a worse crime than torture?

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on April 16, 2010 - 10:37 pm

    These are not good times for whistle-blowers of any persuasion, and it’s hurting us! Justice has become a joke, but someday there should be some huge compensation for the brave men and women who come forward when they see wrongdoing.

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on April 16, 2010 - 10:51 pm

    Fascinating interview (41:38 in the podcast), about early uses of computers in the Whitehouse and pre-FISA uses of wiretapping. Although the following description of the program doesn’t make President Ford look good, Professor Laprise makes a case that Ford was very concerned about privacy; Cheney and Rumsfeld, not so much.

    Prof. Laprise of Northwestern has researched the history of computers in the White House, and reports that documents from the Ford administration (with younger Cheney and Rumsfeld in key posts) authorized break-ins and electronic surveillance, after the Nixon blunders but before the 1978 FISA law on wiretapping.

    First part of program also very interesting! You gotta love Peter B. Collins!

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on April 17, 2010 - 9:59 am

    Things have really gone far beyond the Watergate era of more than 30 years ago. Nixon and Ford never spent $1.2 billion on a single surveillance program.

  4. #4 by Larry Bergan on April 17, 2010 - 10:13 am

    Not to mention that now Utah will become a hub of information gathering employment.

    But hey! It’s jobs!

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