Published on 30 Sep 2013
GAP client & NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake testifying before the
European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
September 30, 2013
Topic: NSA Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens
Thomas Andrews Drake (born 1957) is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, and a whistleblower. In 2010 the government alleged that Drake “mishandled” documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. Drake’s defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. Drake rejected several deals because he refused to “plea bargain with the truth”. He eventually pled to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of “civil disobedience.”
The Espionage Act and whistleblowing
Drake is one of four individuals in the history of the United States who has been charged specifically with “willful retention” of “national defense” information under 18 U.S.C. § 793(e). Most prosecutions are for “delivery” of classified information to a third party—something that Mr Drake was not charged with. This particular portion of the Espionage Act was created in 1950 during the Second Red Scare, as part of the McCarran Internal Security Act. Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg were the first to be prosecuted for the “retention” of what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers which Ellsberg gave to the New York Times, eventually resulting in another landmark Espionage Act case in 1971, New York Times Co. v. United States. The prosecution of Russo and Ellsberg was dismissed in 1972 because of government misconduct. The second prosecution was of Samuel Loring Morison in 1985, a Navy analyst who sold satellite photographs to Jane’s Defense Weekly; he was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton. The third was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee case in 2005, United States v. Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman.