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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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  • Sentencing (Score:5, Informative)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @08:55PM (#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 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 !!

      • You sound like a mutant commie. You're Trouble with a capital T and I hope the Troubleshooters fully enjoy their bouncy bubble beverage when they're done with you.

        Mine eyes have seen the coming of another commie horde...
  • by NoseSocks (662467) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @09:06PM (#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 bcrowell (177657)

      Thanks for posting that link. I was upset as hell after reading it last week. Anyone who doesn't fully understand the gravity of this case should read the whole thing.

      This ruling partially restores my hope that the US will return to the rule of law and respect for the bill of rights.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tburkhol (121842)

      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.

  • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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.

        • > 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.

          Presumption of innocence [wikipedia.org].

          • 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 te

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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

        • 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.

          Just because the relevant legal minds were negative assholes doesn't mean everyone must be so. Let's just call him innocent and rejoice that there's still hope for our (my?) government.

        • by Narcogen (666692)

          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.

          What terminology the government uses is only relevant when reporting what the government says.

          No one here should report that the government has determined him to be innocent.

          This is not because the only thing that may be reported about an alleged criminal is that either we know for sure he did it (guilty) or that we can't prove that he did it (not guilty) which underhandedly implies that maybe he did do it, but we can't prove it.

          The reason why we don't report that courts find defendants innocent is because

      • 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.

        Pardon me (pun intended) - except where there's a reversal of onus

        Not guilty != Innocent

        Did you study law in your lounge room?

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Not guilty != Innocent

          Being found not guilty of a crime doesn't mean that you didn't do it, You're thinking of innocence in moral or religious terms.

      • What an odd concept - reality is only what is agreed upon by judges and lawyers. Simply because someone isn't convicted doesn't mean they didn't do it. That used to be known as "getting away with it". Does that mean that everyone who is convicted actually did the crime?

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        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.

        You're innocent until proven guilty in exactly the same way that you're alive until you're dead, i.e. by definition. I am innocent of all crimes that I have not been convicted of, it's just lazy thinking to start using "innocent" to mean anything else.
        It is only in legal jurisdictions like Scotland where you have three possible decisions of "guilty", "not proven" and "innocent" that this is not true.

    • by Narcogen (666692)

      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.

      One may report that he IS innocent because one is "presumed innocent" until "found guilty".

      What one may not report (at least not conscientiously) is that he has been "found innocent" because that is not a determination that is made. It is not made because it does not need to be made, because of the same presumption. No one needs a judge or jury to return a finding of innocence, because it is presumed. The findings are "guilty" or "not guilty".

      A person may be innocent. They are innocent because they are "fou

    • by metacell (523607)

      TBH, I don't care if he's innocent according to the letter of the law, since he did the right thing.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • What spectacular abuses of power has the House of Lords prevented? I'm curious; the Wikipedia page wasn't helpful.

        I'm not convinced that a house of "betters" is a good element of a checks and balances systems. I'm pretty sure I think the majority of my "betters" in terms of peerage are people I disagree with vehemently on many issues and, overall, nutters. I'm not sure why you'd be unable to bribe them, either: sure, they're wealthy, but that just means bribing them is a tad more expensive. If they're suffi

      • 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.

        The US Senate used to serve a very similar role to the House of Lords. It was appointed by the state legislatures without the advice or consent of "The People(tm)" because it was supposed to represent the interest of the i

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        England has more CCTV cameras than people, they totally failed to prevent any of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad abuses, and so on.

        Well, the members of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad probably weren't stupid enough to perform their abuses in the middle of Dudley High Street or wherever the fucking CCTV cameras would actually be.

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:07PM (#36396442) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Thomas_Andrews_Drake [wikipedia.org] Notice that the wikipedia entry for Mr. Drake states that "he was found innocent" even though Decora has failed to provide a reference indicating of the judgement where the man was found innocent. Also notice in the "talk" section of the aforementioned wiki entry how other editors question the validity of the entries made by Decora, as well as the fact that the entries sound more like opinions of statements rather than facts.

    Not that I have anything against Mr. Drake (and I applaud him for being a whistleblower), but there is nothing in the case that indicates a judgement of innocence. It is juvenile, subjective, and pretty much fucking stupid to use both wikipedia and ./ to pass an Op.Ed as a statement of historical fact.

    Someone (Decora) who tell others to find their own references

    you can find that in the various secondary sources im just too lazy to go re-reference them. i am going to edit and put back

    in the wiki talk page when confronted with the lack of good reference materials, it someone I would take his words from with a grain of salt.

    • by siglercm (6059)

      OK, Wikipedia soapbox here. As I've said before and elsewhere, only someone who is, well, naive would believe that Wikipedia editors have a NPOV. Face it, they're not paid. Why then do all the hours of time-consuming work if they're not paid? Because they are paid, just not monetarily; they have a strong incentive to edit. Some do it altruistically, for the good of a community encyclopaedic resource. Others do it to promote a certain POV, namely, one with which they (strongly) agree. These editors ar

      • by metacell (523607)

        Or the Wikipedia editors just read a misleading newspaper article.

        • by siglercm (6059)

          So... Wikipedia editors read a misleading newspaper article, and to fact-check their "research" they did... what...? With this evidence, it's hard to uphold Wikipedia as a true encyclopaedia in "disputed" areas like this.

          Frankly, if I were editing on Wikipedia I'd rather be recognized as having a non-NPOV than prove myself an idiot. Wouldn't you?

    • by SheeEttin (899897)
      US reaches plea deal in classified leaks case [yahoo.com], Associated Press (as carried by Yahoo! News). From that story:

      Thomas Drake will plead guilty to exceeding authorized use of a computer, a misdemeanor, and the government will drop 10 felony counts that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, according to court documents. In return, prosecutors say they won't oppose a sentence that spares the 54-year-old Maryland man a prison term.

      In summation:

      • Exceeding authorized use of a computer: guilty.
      • All
    • by decora (1710862) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @11:21PM (#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 Pretzalzz (577309)

        Suppose for the sake of argument that there is a murder, and no one is ever charged with the crime for lack of evidence[though there is no doubt that there was in fact a murder]. Does this mean that everyone is innocent of murder? This seems impossible. Someone logically must be guilty. And yet that[that no one is guilty] seems to be precisely what you are arguing.

        • by Narcogen (666692)

          Your argument begins with the presumption that a crime has taken place: a murder.

          As analogy this is broken, because there is no presumption here that any crime has been committed by anyone, so there is no need for any one individual to be "guilty" with or without a finding.

          However were we to engage the example fully, we have to draw a demarcation between the word innocent in casual use, which is understood to mean "did not commit a crime" and its use in the legal and political realms. The presumption of inn

        • Your argument fails at your definition of "guilty". Someone isn't guilty because you think they are. You can only ever be guilty of a crime if you are found so in a court of law. It gets interesting when you appeal (IANAL - will you end up in a sort of "suspended guilty" state?), but that's not the case here.

          Until such time as there is a formal conviction, someone is assumed innocent. A lesson the assorted press still hasn't learned either, leading to the destruction of lives of people that *were* innoc

        • by metacell (523607)

          I agree with you in principle - someone can be guilty even if they're not proven guilty in a court of law.

          But we must ask ourselves: is there any reason to believe Drake was guilty in this case? The charges were apparently brought forth by the NSA as revenge for Drake's (legal) leaks to congress. It seems at least as likely the charges are completely unsubstantiated, as there being some sort of substance to them.

      • 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.

        In that case, express it as a opinion (that YOU believe it is a fact) instead of putting it as a fact (as a legal judgement) being reported in the media and in the references you previously provided (none of which made that statement.) I do believe the man is innocent as well, but there has been no legal judgement expressing so. And none of the references you made in the media claim "innocence" as a piece of news.

        You misrepresented (pretty much lied) the statements made by NPR and other news outlets to pr

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Several readers have pointed this follows from the 'innocent until proven guilty' meme

        "In Soviet Russia..." or "all your base are belong to us" are memes.
        "Innocent until proven guilty" is one of the building blocks of our judicial system and civilisation.

  • When we'll finally have Bushitler out of the White House!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @10:55PM (#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.

  • Is this just a feeble attempt to imply that Barack Obama is riding roughshod over the Constitution in his pursuit of Stalinist USA?
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      When he's claiming the right to summarily execute [aljazeera.net] and/or imprison without trial [bradleymanning.org] American citizens, yes, I'd say he's riding roughshod over the Constitution. Now, George W Bush was a bit different, in that he just claimed the right to lock up and possibly torture [wikipedia.org] US citizens without trial, and a lot of people howled that he was riding roughshod over the Constitution, but it's safe to say that right now riding roughshod over the Constitution is bipartisan.

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