Guilt over drone strikes prompted former USAF intelligence analyst to leak secrets

One problem first Air Force intelligence analyst reports his guilt for getting involved attack drones in Afghanistan led him to reveal government secrets about the drone program to a reporter.

Daniel Hale of Nashville, Tennessee, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in US District Court in Alexandria after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking top secret documents.

In court papers filed Thursday, Hale’s attorneys asked him to receive a sentence of 12 to 18 months, far below sentencing guidelines.

In an 11-page handwritten letter from the Alexandria prison where he was held, Hale outlined his reasons for breaking the law, describing his remorse and horror as he watched the videos. gruesome about Afghans being killed in part because his work helped track them down.

He said that when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, his job was to monitor cell phone signals associated with alleged enemy fighters.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification of my actions,” Hale wrote.

His guilt is compounded by the clinical nature of the drone strike program in which Afghan targets are killed for their everyday lives – sometimes with innocent civilians being killed. killed for mortgage damage – not on a traditional battlefield.

“The victorious gunman, no doubt with remorse, at least preserved his honor by confronting his enemies on the battlefield,” Hale wrote. “But what can I do to deal with the undeniable cruelty I have committed?”

As a result, he said, his conscience forced him to reveal details of the program to an investigative reporter he had previously met. The documents show that, among other things, the drone program is not exactly what the government claims about avoiding civilian deaths.

Hale leaked the documents after he left the Air Force and took a civilian job with a contractor assigned to the National Geospatial Intelligence Service, where he worked for a time. briefly in 2014 as a top name writer, using his Chinese expertise to help label maps.

Hale’s attorneys argued in court papers that his altruistic motives, and the fact that the government has not shown any real harm to have resulted from the leaks, should be taken into account. light sentence.

“He committed the crime to draw attention to what he believed to be unethical government conduct carried out under the guise of secrecy and contrary to the public statements of President Obama at the time. hours about the alleged accuracy of USA military drone program,” wrote defense attorneys Todd Richman and Cadence Mertz.

However, prosecutors say the disclosure of classified documents has the potential to cause serious harm. In the sentencing papers, prosecutors Gordon Kromberg and Alexander Berrang wrote that documents leaked by Hale were found in a collection of internet documents designed to help Islamic State fighters avoid was discovered.

“(A) as a result of the actions of Hale, the world’s most vicious terrorists obtained documents classified by the United States as ‘Secret’ and ‘Top Secret’ – and thought that the such documents are valuable enough to be disseminated to their followers in a separate manual,” write Kromberg and Berrang.

Prosecutors say Hale’s leaks were more serious than those caused by Reality wins, a problem before national security agency the contractor received a five-year sentence, the longest for a whistleblower prosecuted for leaking classified documents to a journalist under the Espionage Act.

Prosecutors did not ask for a specific prison sentence but said an appropriate sentence would be “significantly longer” than the 63 months imposed on Winner. | Guilt over drone strikes prompted former USAF intelligence analyst to leak secrets


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