Thomas Drake is a former National Security Agency employee who is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act for retaining classified information in conjunction with a series of news articles that revealed gross mismanagement and terrible waste in the agency. Despite the Espionage Act's Cold War connotations, Drake is not being charged with anything remotely related to spying. Far from it, Drake is a patriot who was appalled to see hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars wasted and the civil liberties of countless American citizens ignored.
Without adequate internal disclosure channels, intelligence whistleblowers are faced with an impossible choice. They can either risk their careers by making unprotected internal disclosures, or remain silent about horrible problems, such as gross waste, privacy violations, or even lapses in national security.
Drake protected the American people from waste and abuse at the hands of their government. If anything, he should be applauded for his actions.
Contact President Obama and Attorney General Holder by signing the petition below, and urge them to end this senseless retaliatory campaign. Comments can also be directed to the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and the Office of the Attorney General public comment line at 202-353-1555.
- Attorney General Eric Holder
We, the undersigned, call for the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately dismiss the criminal charges brought against former National Security Agency (NSA) official Thomas A. Drake. These charges of unlawful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements, which Mr. Drake denies, serve as a smokescreen to conceal gross government misconduct.
Mr. Drake came forward with information that the NSA chose an expensive, needlessly invasive and failed program over one that was far less costly, more effective, and contained built-in privacy protections designed to ensure that the NSA would not unlawfully eavesdrop, data mine or conduct illegal electronic surveillance against U.S. citizens and residents.
We are aghast by the actions taken against Mr. Drake, who acted lawfully, abiding by the prevailing directives, statutes and procedures. Mr. Drake utilized all of the proper channels under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to report illegalities, abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars. He first made his complaints known internally to his bosses, to the NSA's General Counsel and Inspector General, to the Defense Department's Inspector General, and to the House and Senate intelligence committees and at least two formal Congressionally-directed 9/11 investigations in which he was called as a material witness. After years of inaction by the government, Mr. Drake contacted a reporter, citing unclassified information relating to the significant and expansive fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer dollars as well as the existence of lawful alternative programs that would have also significantly improved U.S. intelligence capability.
We greatly appreciate the Administration’s unprecedented efforts to strengthen rights by restoring a credible Whistleblower Protection Act. Under the Administration’s own legislative proposal it would be illegal to terminate Mr. Drake or take any other adverse job action against him for his disclosures. But the legislation has not been enacted, and in the interim the Administration is criminally prosecuting him for laudable conduct on behalf of the taxpayers. This contradiction demands resolution consistent with the Administration’s stated campaign and governing policies. It is little solace to protect whistleblowers from being fired if instead the Administration tries to put them in prison.
Mr. Drake is being indicted under a very questionable use of the Espionage Act and faces upwards of 35 years in prison. Mr. Drake is not a spy. He is a whistleblower who acted in the best interests of America’s taxpayers and democracy. He deserves to be honored, not imprisoned.
We call upon you to make good on your commitment to fair play and decency, and to desist from using the criminal justice system as a bludgeon against those whose only crime is they care too deeply about this country to remain silent about our security, Constitution, taxpayer dollars, and basic values. We call upon you to immediately dismiss all charges against Mr. Drake.
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