A former executive with the National Security Agency (NSA) has been accused of disclosing classified material and lying about it. The Justice Department announced felony indictments against Thomas A. Drake, formerly of the NSA, on April 15.
Facing 10 felony counts, Drake is accused of divulging secret information to a newspaper reporter. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement that Drake is charged with “willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice, and making false statements.” The reporter was not named in the indictment.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Drake researched stories for the reporter by e-mailing colleagues, without remarking on the purpose of his e-mails. He copied and pasted classified information into documents so that the classified seal was removed, and scanned and printed secret documents for the reporter. He is also accused of taking classified material home with him. Drake was trained in the correct procedures for handling classified materials, according to the indictment.
Drake allegedly reviewed, commented on, and edited the reporter’s articles, and concealed his relationship with the reporter. The indictment stated that he also suggested topics for stories to the reporter. Article topics and the name of the newspaper were not mentioned. From 2001 to 2005, Drake led NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate at Fort Meade. He continued serving the agency as a contractor until 2008.
“As if those allegations are not serious enough, he also allegedly later shredded documents and lied about his conduct to federal agents in order to obstruct their investigation," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in a DOJ press release. "Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here—violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information—be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously."
Senior Litigation Counsel William M. Welch II of the Criminal Division and Trial Attorney John P. Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section will prosecute the case. The penalty for obstruction of justice can be 20 years in prison. Making false statements can bring a penalty of five years in prison, and Drake could receive 10 years for willful retention of classified documents. Fines for each count could reach $250,000.