A Tale of Two Espionage Act Defendants: Trump and a Drone Whistleblower

Institute for Public Accuracy

Former President Trump is facing 31 counts under the Espionage Act, the same federal statute that was the basis for the prosecution of U.S. Air Force veteran Daniel Hale, who is now serving a 45-month prison sentence as a drone whistleblower.

An article published by The Hill — “Two Very Different Espionage Act Cases: Trump and the Drone Whistleblower” — features comments from Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency who became a whistleblower.

Written by Institute for Public Accuracy executive director Norman Solomon, the article says: “For Trump, it will be irrelevant that the 106-year-old Espionage Act does not allow defendants to testify about why they handled classified documents the way they did. But, if not for that restriction, Hale might never have gone to prison in the first place.”

Drake commented: “Donald Trump did not faithfully defend or execute the laws of the land — instead he held them, and ‘We the People’ of the U.S., in utter contempt. Daniel Hale held faith to the highest ideals of our country and human rights, as he witnessed so many innocent civilians wiped out in the drone killing fields and shared it via the press in the public interest. The deep irony is that the Espionage Act, in its contemporary use, can’t tell Trump and Hale apart.”

THOMAS DRAKE, tadrake@earthlink.net

While at the NSA, Drake disclosed the original mass surveillance regime put in place after 9/11, multibillion-dollar fraud and waste as well as 9/11 intelligence failures. He was indicted by the government as the signature Espionage Act case by the Obama administration in 2010 after a four-year criminal investigation and went free after a plea deal. Prior to his stints at the NSA and as a consultant/contractor in management and information technology, he served in the Air Force, CIA and Navy as an intelligence specialist.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive@gmail.com

Solomon’s new book War Made Invisible chronicles the federal prosecution of Hale and other whistleblowers disclosing top-secret information. Solomon covered the 2015 trial and sentencing of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for The Nation magazine, and has also written about prosecutions related to disclosures of classified information for HuffPost and Columbia Journalism Review.