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 does not name either the reporter or the newspaper (PDF) 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 analyze but exposed management and programmatic troubles within the agency. Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a press advocacy group, called the indictment of Drake unfortunate. “The whole point of the prosecution is to have a chilling effect on reporters and sources, and it will,” says Dalglish. Because the articles in question documented government failures and weaknesses, the decision to prosecute could raise questions about whether the government is merely moving to protect itself from legitimate public scrutiny. The articles exposed “a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that was of great interest to Congress” says Dalglish adding that the articles were “important public-interest reporting.”"
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