Unsealed Indictment Reveals Just How Big A Problem Leaking of Classified Secrets Has Become—Will It Only Get Worse?

source: Tracy Few

An indictment that was officially unsealed May 9th showed that federal prosecutors had charged a previously employed analyst in the government intelligence division with the leaking of classified documents that detailed various drone strikes.  The leaking of the sensitive information was said to have been to a reporter.

The individual in question, Daniel E Hale of Nashville, worked for both the National Security Agency, as a government analyst, and for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a private defense contractor.  In both positions, he had access to various top-secret and sensitive documents.

The indictment indicated that from 2013-2014, while employed for both agencies, Hale provided an estimated two dozen highly classified documents to a reporter, which he was allegedly meeting and communicating with since April 2013.  At that time, Hale was said to have been based at the National Security Agency (NSA).  He was also said to have also been an enlisted airman, in the US Air Force, where he had also been an intelligence specialist in Afghanistan.

Having left the Air Force in February 2014, Hale went on to work as a defense contractor at the NGIA.  The indictment stated that while with the NGIA, Hale allegedly printed off six highly classified documents that were then later published by a news outlet online.

Neither the news outlet nor the reporter were identified in the indictment. However, clues contained within the document pointed towards Hale's contact being that of Jeremy Scahill, of The Intercept.  The Intercept had published a series of documents containing leaked information called "The Drone Papers" on their website in October 2015.  There was also the fact that the site published a guide for those would-be leakers of government information that was mentioned in the indictment.

This would be the third prosecution for leaked information that The Intercept has been involved or named in over the past several years.  Other individuals indicted before Hale were Reality Winner, a former contractor with the NSA, and Terry Albury, a former FBI Agent—both charged for providing the website with classified information.

The Trump administration has ramped up the investigation of suspected illegal government leaks.  In a statement made May 1st, Attorney General William Barr spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee, advising of the “multiple” ongoing investigations into possible criminal leaks currently being looked at by the Justice Department.

At this point in time, Hale faces a massive number of charges that include illegally obtaining, retaining, and then transmitting information based on national defense.  If convicted of the charges listed in the indictment, Hale could face up to 50 years in prison.

So, what’s the verdict—you decide.

Will government related sensitive material continue to be leaked?  Will Trump’s knuckling down on the problem solve it?