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Thomas Drake Innocent of All Ten Original Charges 243

Posted by timothy
from the well-played-sir-well-played dept.
decora writes "NPR, and dozens of other media sources, are reporting that NSA IT whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake is innocent of all 10 original charges against him; including the 5 Espionage Act charges for 'retention' of 'national defense information.' Drake stared down the government to the last minute, rejecting deal after deal, because he 'refused to plea bargain with the truth.' The judge had even recently ruled that there was no evidence that Drake passed classified information to a reporter. In the end, he has agreed that he committed a misdemeanor: 'unauthorized access to a computer.' It is unknown what this means for the other non-spy espionage cases that Obama's DOJ currently has pending (Kim, Sterling, Manning), or the Grand Jury that is currently meeting to discuss Espionage Act charges related to WikiLeaks."
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Thomas Drake Innocent of All Ten Original Charges

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  • Sentencing (Score:5, Informative)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:55PM (#36396062)

    FYI, since it wasn't in the summary and people will inevitably ask: the charges carry a max of one year in jail, and the prosecution agreed not to pursue any jail time at all.

  • by NoseSocks (662467) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:06PM (#36396126)
    I found the following article from the New Yorker to provide considerable information about what led up to the charges:
    New Yorker: The Secret Sharer [newyorker.com]
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:29PM (#36396258)
    No, you aren't assumed innocent. The courts are supposed to presume innocence while in front of a jury. There is no "duty" for anyone not actively presenting to a jury while a court is in session to presume or assume innocence.

    Further, assuming (or presuming) something is irrelevant to whether it's true. OJ killed Nicole. He is guilty of that act. He was found not guilty in a court of law. None of those are contradictory statements of fact (whether they are true is something that can be debated elsewhere).

    If the cops presumed you innocent, they'd never arrest you. If the prosecutor presumed you innocent, they'd never file charges. If the judge presumed you innocent, he'd not let the trial proceed. The presumption of innocence is what the jury is supposed to do, and nobody else in the entire system (and certainly nobody outside the justice system) is expected to presume innocence, though they are expected to act that way under reasonable rules of the court when in front of the jury.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @11:55PM (#36396628)

    This is a big fat witch hunt by bureaucrats with too much ego and power at their disposal. There (was) a good complete article on this complete story over at the New Yorker [newyorker.com]. Short recap: the NSA has had running for a number of years a project called Echelon which sucks in every bit of email, cell phone, satellite and any other type of electronic communication and tries to process in (they called all the electronic eavesdropping "total information awareness") --Carnivore and Omnivore installations at AT&T sites are part of this--. Now this left them with a great big haystack and finding needles turned into a big pain. One crypt analyst came up with a solution and called it 'thin thread'. It was rejected by the current bureaucracy because they had another project already underway called trailblazer. So this 'thin thread' project was on the shelf. People got re-assigned and it time passed. Trailblazer failed after a few years and a few hundred million dollars. Thin thread was pulled off the shelf, but since the original team had already been reassigned, new people were working on it. Some careful controls that limits spying on Americans was built into the original version. The powers that be went out of their way to spy on Americans (even though thats not part of the NSA mandate, and illegal). The original developers protesters complained, then left. The witch hunt that followed is part the Thomas Drake trial. ---sorry for the long blurb, the New Yorker piece is 10 pages, and there is a lot of dirt I left out--,
    Sincerely (hello you NSA people!),
    Anonymous Coward.

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday June 10, 2011 @12:21AM (#36396790) Journal

    I edited wikipedia , to make it hopefully much more neutral. Thanks for the tip.

    As for the slashdot story, I believe that Thomas Drake's innocence is not opinion. I believe that it is a fact. If you have 10 counts against you, and they are all dropped, then you are innocent of them. Several readers have pointed this follows from the 'innocent until proven guilty' meme (which i hadn't thought of, but is a good argument...) do you disagree? Just because I am biased does not mean I am factually wrong, does it?

    I believe the slashdot headline compares favorably in accurate to the other mainstream news headlines that are currently crowding around cyberspace.

    The other headlines on other news sites typically say something like "NSA Leak case reaches plea deal", or "NSA spy espionage case pleads out" or "Spy-Agency Leaker pleads guilty to lesser charge" or "classified leak case reaches bargain" or whatever.

    Many of these statments are misleading, or flat out wrong, and most of them imply things that are factually incorrect. Thomas Drake was never, ever, not even once, charged with 'leaking'. There is no law against 'leaking'. There are several laws covering 'disclosure' or 'delivery' of information, but he was not charged with one of those laws either. Why? Because they had no good evidence that he ever delivered any classified information to anyone. He specifically took precautions against divulging classified information to anyone - that was part of his agreement with Gorman of the Baltimore Sun - that he wouldn't give her any information.

    Now, the DOJ indictment of him contains a lot of statements about 'giving classified information to a reporter', but when they actually brought criminal charges, none of those charges was for 'leaking' or 'disclosure' or 'delivery' of information. A statement is a totally different thing from a charge. Thus, any headline that says he was 'charged with leaking' or 'charged with disclosure' is misleading at best and flat out wrong at worst.

    As for this word 'classified', it is also wrong. The Espionage Act 793(e) does not even use the word 'classified', it uses the phrase "national defense information". This is an important distinction, because only a jury can decide if a defendant's information counted as 'national defense information'. And this typically refers to serious military stuff, like diagrams of ships or something - that is what the law was refering to when Congress created it in 1917, and when Congress created its forefather the Defense Secrets Act in 1911, and what Congress intended when it amended the Espionage Act in 1950. And as Schmidt and Edgar point out in their famous 1973 Columbia Law article, Congress has repeatedly refused or failed to blanketly criminalize the posession or delivery of classified information - as Elsea points out in her 2010 CRS article, there is a 'patchwork' of laws, because Congress itself, and the President, love to leak classified information to the media. Thus, every headline that uses the word 'charged with leaking classified info' in relation to Drake's case is factually incorrect. He was never, not even once, charged with any law that contains the word 'classified' anywhere in it.

    Again, the indictment makes a lot of statements about 'giving classified information to a reporter' (Which the judge ruled there was no evidence of). Even the headline of the DOJ news release might say things about 'classified information'. It is not my fault that the DOJ lawyers cannot read the Espionage Act. And again, a statement in an indcitment is a totally different thing from a criminal charge.

    Lastly I'd like to cover the implications, the sort of tone and demeanor, of the language of the many articles floating around the web.

    They seem to imply the story here is that a 'leaker' had to 'plead to a lesser charge'. That is utterly misleading. Another view of the story, one that I believe will be in the history books, is that the government, after a case that started when Bush demanded the FBI find the NS

  • by tburkhol (121842) on Friday June 10, 2011 @07:30AM (#36398480)

    Most telling quote in that article:

    ““I actually had hopes for Obama, [...] but power is incredibly destructive,” Drake said. “It’s a weird, pathological thing. I also think the intelligence community coöpted Obama, because he’s rather naïve about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy. We’re in a scary space in this country.”

    Seems to pretty well sum things up.

  • by brokeninside (34168) on Friday June 10, 2011 @08:10AM (#36398656)

    For example, one can very well be guilty but not found as such by a court of law. This is why the courts do not generally attempt to answer the question "is the defendant innocent?" Rather, the courts try to answer the question, "is there enough evidence to prove the defendant did this?"

    This is why, at least in the US, you will sometimes see someone win a criminal case (get judged not-guilty) but then lose a civil case that presupposes that the defendant is, in fact, guilty. The criminal and civil courts tend to use different standards (reasonable doubt vs. preponderance of evidence).

    So, in other words, if the case is dropped (or the defendant is acquitted of all charges), that really says nothing about guilt or innocence. Rather it only says something about the amount of evidence in play. In this case, the amount of evidence is being limited by government fiat. They aren't willing to diclose certain evidence. Consequently, the courts do not have sufficient evidence to convict. That is a far different decision than the court determining that someone is innocent.

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