The New York Times reports that, lo, a mere three or four years later, one of what must have been a number of Intelligence Community officials who leaked very significant and highly classified national security information is actually about to be prosecuted.
In a rare legal action against a government employee accused of leaking secrets, a grand jury has indicted 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.
The official, Thomas A. Drake, 52, was also accused of obstructing justice by shredding documents, deleting computer records and lying to investigators who were looking into the reporterâ€™s sources.
â€œOur national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here â€” violating the governmentâ€™s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information â€” be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously,â€ Lanny A. Breuer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Departmentâ€™s criminal division, said in a statement.
The indictment, approved Wednesday by a grand jury in Baltimore and made public on Thursday, does not name either the reporter or the newspaper 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 N.S.A. programs, costing billions of dollars, using computers to collect and sort electronic intelligence. The efforts were plagued with technical flaws and cost overruns. …
Mr. Drake, who began working as an N.S.A. contractor in 1991 and was a high-ranking agency employee from 2001 to 2008, is charged with 10 counts, including retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The retention counts each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Times remarks defensively that “[t]he indictment suggests the Obama administration may be no less aggressive than the Bush administration in pursuing whistleblowers and reportersâ€™ sources who disclose government secrets.”
Frankly, I think they may be being more aggressive.
Siobhan Gorman (naturally) in 2006 received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her NSA coverage.
The Baltimore Sun web-site does not seem to be linking many of Siobhan Gorman’s NSA stories, but here’s an example, NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally, published in the Sun, May 18, 2006, quoted by the leftwing Common Dreams. Possibly being deliberately misleading, Gorman claims to have four anonymous informants.
Here is Siobhan Gorman talking about Homeland Security use of satellite surveillance on C-Span, November 3, 2007, 8:02 video.