Daniel Everette Hale, 31, has been indicted in the USA on five charges of passing secret information about America’s drone programme. He was arrested on 9 May. It is believed that he passed these documents to a website called The Intercept. According to the indictment, the documents were leaked in 2013 and 2014, although The Intercept’s report did not appear until 2016. The indictment says that copies of one document were found on a thumb drive and that there also exists a recording of Hale discussing the information with a journalist.
Hale had access to the information because he was an intelligence analyst in the USAF from 2009 to 2013. He later worked as a contractor for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Altogether he is accused of passing eleven Secret or Top Secret documents.
Hale’s motivation appears to have been the possible illegality of America’s drone assassination programme together with his concerns (which have been voiced by other critics) about the errors that are made in compiling the “kill lists”. (The existence of these lists is not secret – their existence was confirmed under the Obama administration). It is alleged that Hale first met the editor of The Intercept when the latter was promoting his book “Dirty Wars” at a Washington DC bookstore. The indictment says that the two used the encrypted messaging service “Jabber” to communicate. This tends to suggest that the NSA have managed to break Jabber’s encryption.
Hale faces up to ten years in prison on each of the five charges and therefore a possible total of fifty years behind bars.
You can find The Intercept’s report “The Drone Papers” here: http://theintercept.com/drone-papers/. It is well worth a look if you have an interest in the way drones are used in the assassination program.