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Crime Government The Courts United States

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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  • Not false. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:09PM (#36396150)

    They had no case. He was a source for Congress and others within our government on a massive NSA wiretapping program to make government recording all of our plaintext emails look like the the purest product of enlightenment and benevolence, probably the creepiest secret surveillance program of the modern era.

    The only upside compared to other systems is that because we live in the US, and we have a strong federal judiciary and some strong de jure personal freedoms, the results of the surveillance are only rarely if ever actually used against our citizens, to justify torturing or imprisoning them, etc...--it's not like Chechneya, for example, where everyone is afraid someone else is one of the secret police, and the Russia-backed head of state goes around personally torturing people. Ask a reporter there if they would feel comfortable criticizing him and they respond "there'd be no need to ever do that!"

    This guy may be an ass, I don't know--but the NSA went too far, and someone had to expose that in a way which did not betray the country, as to Congressional oversight. I am sure the NSA meant well and I can imagine how much pressure they were in post-911. I don't blame them for going too far, I blame them for not pulling back on their own as it became more obvious they were violating the Constitution. The problem is whether the next guy will mean as well, whether they always will, and whether rules will come more and more to reflect a disconnect between the morality of individuals and the ethics of government, causing a schism contrary to the ideals of democracy and the free world.

  • Re:He's innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:25PM (#36396232)
    It was enemies of the USA that wasted time and taxpayers money bringing him to trial in the first place - they just happen to be on the US payroll. They are not going to be happy and external forces are really not going to give a shit either way about a conveniently guy some lazy spooks grabbed because doing their real job requires too much hard work.
  • Re:Not false. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:30PM (#36396270)

    They had no case. He was a source for Congress and others within our government on a massive NSA wiretapping program to make government recording all of our plaintext emails look like the the purest product of enlightenment and benevolence, probably the creepiest secret surveillance program of the modern era.

    Maybe NSA did have a case, but if they wanted to make that case, they would have had to admit that the allegations were essentially true. Unacceptable option.

    But even if the allegations were completely bogus, confirming that would be just as bad a leak in terms of exposing NSA's capabilities. Equally unacceptable option.

    It was a classic Catch-22. (Best catch there is.) Both sides get to walk away with a win: NSA keeps its secrets to itself, and Yossarian lives. Well-played on both sides.

    I saw a man upon a stair
    A man in court who wasn't there
    To testify for NSA.
    (The winning move was not to play.)

  • Innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:49PM (#36396368)
    No one is reporting he is innocent. They reached a plea deal. The government dropped the 10 charges because a judge decided the prosecution would have to show classified material to the jury. Dropping the charges because you don't have enough evidence to make a case (i.e. without using classified material) is not the same as deciding he is innocent.
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:00PM (#36396424)

    If you shine a light on government waste, incompetence or malfeasance be prepared for the government to use its unlimited checkbook and unaccountable law enforcement types to make your life a living hell.

  • Re:Innocent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rijnzael (1294596) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:01PM (#36396426)
    Yes it is; you're innocent until proven guilty, regardless of how much prosecutors, police, and the government don't want to believe it sometimes. If the government can't be burdened to prove that he's guilty, he's innocent.
  • Re:Innocent? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:09PM (#36396462)

    I'm going to assume you're from outside the United States in a place with a radically different judicial system or that you are from the US and have, unfortunaly, been subjected to the wholly sub-standard civics education we receive, here.

    If you are not convicted of a crime in the court of law, you are innocent. Period.

    Granted, The USAPATRIOT Act overrides this by allowing the president to essentially call this guy an enemy combatant and disappear him to Gitmo for some torture with no representation, ever, but that's a subversion of the justice system. (And, frankly, I'm surprised this wasn't done by the government - I can only assume that this was because they wanted to use him to set an example more than they wanted to make him vanish).

  • Re:Biased summary? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:48PM (#36396604)

    Oh, dude. You stated a harsh truth. 'Round these parts, that's a killin' offense....

  • Re:Biased summary? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:51PM (#36396614)

    Sure. A traitor for revealing NSA warrantless wiretapping to us.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:51PM (#36396618) Journal

    America is turning into a police state.

    The authority is actually violating the laws in this case.

    Instead of innocent until proven guilty, the authority is using that "traitor" bait to paint Mr. Drake as if he is guilty of treason against the United States of America.

    Shame on Uncle Sam !!

  • Re:Innocent? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blind monkey 3 (773904) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @11:28PM (#36396812)

    Yes it is; you're innocent until proven guilty, regardless of how much prosecutors, police, and the government don't want to believe it sometimes. If the government can't be burdened to prove that he's guilty, he's innocent.

    IANAL, but AFAIK 'innocent' is never used in the US Justice System. So, if the government fails to prove he's guilty, then he is not guilty.

    With the US legal system isn't it guilty until proven rich? /stirring

  • by jd (1658) <imipakNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday June 10, 2011 @12:15AM (#36397006) Homepage Journal

    That's one reason Britain still has a House of Lords. You can't bribe 'em and you can't "disappear" 'em. It's also why Britain keeps trying to get rid of said House and replace it with one that you CAN bribe or vanish. As imperfect as it is (it would be better if it were a true meritocratic House), it has prevented some of the more spectacular abuses of power seen elsewhere. Not all, sure. England has more CCTV cameras than people, they totally failed to prevent any of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad abuses, and so on.

    Nonetheless, the US' complete lack of any independent oversight or meritocratic branch is precisely why it was possible for the more gratuitous abuses to have taken place. Everyone in power needs to curry favour from everyone else in power far more than they need anything to actually work.

  • Re:Biased summary? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2011 @12:37AM (#36397116)

    If he did indeed pass the data, he isn't a hero, he is most likely a traitor, or at the very least guilty of espionage, wire fraud, or some other similar charge. That makes him an enemy of the US.

    So there's no place for whistle-blowers in your world?

    Sure he may have done the things you mention (though the courts didn't find proof), but to expose the largest, most blatant illegal wiretapping operation EVER, it was worth it ("public interest" and all that).

    Though, it is interesting to note, that the government gave themselves a "get out of jail free card" for this operation (see FISA 2008 [wikipedia.org]) but apparently this guy wasn't included in their alternate reality where spying isn't bad.

  • Re:Biased summary? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johncandale (1430587) on Friday June 10, 2011 @12:57AM (#36397218)
    I'm guessing you favored Nixon behaving like a king with no rule of law and attempting to distory the democratic process to stay in power with no one ever finding out. You should be ashamed of such a horrible opinion.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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