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Government The Almighty Buck The Media News

Ex-NSA Official Indicted For Leaks To Newspaper 115

Hugh Pickens writes "The Baltimore Sun reports that in a rare legal action against a government employee accused of leaking secrets, a grand jury has indicted Thomas A. Drake, a former senior National Security Agency official, on charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007. Federal law prohibits government employees from disclosing classified information which could be 'expected to cause damage to national security.' The indictment (PDF) does not name either the reporter or the newspaper that received the information, but the description applies to articles written by Siobhan Gorman, then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, that examined in detail the failings of several major NSA programs, costing billions of dollars, that were plagued with technical flaws and cost overruns. Gorman's stories did not focus on the substance of the electronic intelligence information the agency gathers and analyzes but exposed management and programmatic troubles within the agency." Adds reader metrometro: "Of note: the government says the alleged NSA mole uses Hushmail, which is all the endorsement I need for a security system." Perhaps Mr. Drake was unaware of Hushmail's past cooperation with the US government?
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Ex-NSA Official Indicted For Leaks To Newspaper

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  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @09:29AM (#31870884) Homepage

    I fail to see what would be wrong with sending encrypted emails backed by chained proxies, Tor, etc. It's not like the information is even secret--the whole point was to have it disclosed in a newspaper. Given that he might come under occasional (or constant) investigation by the authorities simply because of the nature of his job, avoiding a physical presence as well as any unusual behavior is a must. What would you recommend as an alternative?

    I think the real problem was simply that he sent "hundreds of messages" to the same guy. As soon as the NSA points their attention at that guy, they have access to everything, no matter the medium of communication. Before that they already probably have their list of culprits narrowed down significantly based on the info that was being disclosed. Once they know where to get the unencrypted messages they can analyze them for writing characteristics (such as word frequencies) which correspond to one of their employees, assuming their aren't much more blatant clues slipped in. It may even be at some point he simply had no choice but to reveal details about his identity/job to convince the reporter he was a legitimate leak--I mean, if you perfectly anonymize yourself how do you convince anyone you aren't just a hoaxer? Even if the reporter can successfully destroy any evidence of the content of such communications, that doesn't mean he won't squeal when some scary guys from the government pick him up off the street and tell him horror stories about what might happen to him if it doesn't. (the fact they wouldn't mention who the reporter was could be evidence of his cutting a deal)

  • Re:The real problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:15AM (#31871454) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. When I heard this story on NPR last night the first thing I thought was that this person might be a protected whistleblower, as it appears that the "state secrets" that were leaked don't relate to national security as much as bureaucratic incompetence and governmental inefficiency. The NPR story doesn't seem to mention the idea that this person might be considered a whistle-blower (admittedly I didn't catch all of the story.) The infamous "most Americans" oh heck, maybe even most Americans (not just the Slashdot libertarian geeks and the teabaggers hanging on Glenn Beck's every utterance) might well wind up thinking something rather different than the government expects them to. If Americans decide he was a whistleblower on billions of dollars of waste fraud and mismanagement, Thomas Drake might wind up as a folk hero and a commentator on the Sunday morning talk circuit. Presumably he'll seek some legal shelter under the Federal Whistleblower [] Protection Act. However, since he blew the whistle on the NSA and not the park service, that shelter might be pretty thin.

    On the brighter side, it will be highly amusing to watch Fox News try to figure out how to present this story, what with it's spooky quantum both a particle and a wave nature (he's a dangerous spy... and a hard working taxpayer folk hero!") We'll get to revive the Shimmer dessert topping and floor wax [] meme for this one.
  • Re:Bahahah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @10:48AM (#31871936) Homepage

    Your point 1 requires evidence. What unreasonable searches and seizures do you refer to?

    Have you read a single newspaper in the last eight years? []

    What exactly do you think the NSA does? Are you really that credulous?

    If you want to make a case that all budgets must be entirely disclosed at some given level of detail, I'd love to hear it.

    Article 1, Section 9: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

    Are you disputing the government's authority to operate clandestine intelligence agencies? If so, I'd love to hear the argument for that, too.

    They have shown repeatedly [] that they are incapable of controlling themselves when there is no oversight. The NSA and CIA and FBI have repeatedly operated outside the law. We are supposed to be a nation of laws.

    But the solution for that is not turning a blind eye while people spill our secrets in wartime.

    Do you think you're channelling Thomas Jefferson or Stalin with that kind of outlook?

    Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treasons, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension. -Thomas Jefferson

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!