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The Courts Government News

Judge Blasts Prosecution of Alleged NSA Leaker 95

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that Judge Richard D. Bennett harshly criticized US prosecutor William M. Welch III for his treatment of a former spy agency official Thomas Drake, who was accused of leaking classified material. Bennett called the delays in the now-closed case 'unconscionable' and compared it to British tyranny in the colonial era. In 2007, FBI agents raided Drake's house, but it took over two years for officials to indict him. 'And then, over a year later, on the eve of trial, in June of 2011, the government says, "Whoops, we dropped the whole case,"' Bennett said. Drake was given a mild penalty for pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of exceeding authorized use of a computer: a year's probation and 240 hours of community service while all 10 felony counts were dropped. 'That's four years of hell that a citizen goes through,' Bennett said. 'It was not proper. It doesn't pass the smell test.' In contrast with his tough words for Welch, Bennett singled out for praise Drake's public defenders, James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman, saying their work on behalf of Drake was 'at the highest level of professionalism.' Judge Welch said the matter was now closed and addressed Drake: 'I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your life.'"
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Judge Blasts Prosecution of Alleged NSA Leaker

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  • Wouldn't it be nice? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mat catastrophe ( 105256 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @06:39PM (#36953598) Homepage

    If judges could pass summary judgment for civil damages in a case like this?

    Or, better, when someone's released from a 20 year stint in prison after the DNA proves they didn't do it?

  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @06:45PM (#36953658) Journal

    the charge against him was 5 counts of 'retaining information related to the national defense', Espionage Act 18 USC 793(e)

    thats because there is no crime called 'leaking', never has been and probably never will be. it doesnt even have a set definition.

    and its not illegal to give out classified material , only certain types of classified material in certain situations to certain people.

    and Thomas Drake didnt give out any classified material - the judge even said basically this (the emails the DOJ said had classified material, well, they didnt).

    Drake was actually an expert in handling classified material, he was an intelligence analyst for many years in the military and NSA. He specifically avoided giving out any classified info to the reporter.

    thats one of the scariest things about the case. they decided a bunch of stuff they seized from him was 'classified', after they sezied it. and then they also even argued that material marked UNCLASSIFIED in big bold letters was really classified.

    yes 'accused' is perhaps correct, in a technical sense, since the government's indictment said he did it. but when it came to actual criminal charges, there werent any, because there arent any laws about "leaking classified material".

    because the biggest leakers? Congress and the President, going back all the way to Eisenhower, at least, and then even back farther, you can even find some of the founding fathers 'leaking' sensitive info. and none of them got 35 years in prison for it. (which is what the government wanted to do to Drake)

  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Monday August 01, 2011 @06:47PM (#36953686) Journal

    the project he 'blew the whistle' on was Trailblazer, which spent a billion dollars and produced uhm, just about zero actual product.

    and if you count up the thousands of Thomas Drakes in the government, well, if they had all been listened to for the past 10+ years, we could have saved a trillion dollars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01, 2011 @07:01PM (#36953804)

    Prosecutors have immunity. Even when they knowingly break the law when trying to prosecute.
    If we want crap like this to end, there need to be standards to revoke that immunity; either on a case-by-case basis or a blanket repeal thereof.

Air is water with holes in it.