The Baltimore Sun — the newspaper which originally published Thomas Drake's concerns about wasteful spending and fraud at the NSA, where he worked — closed a chapter on its Drake coverage with its recent story, "NSA employee accused of leaking information sentenced to probation."
Thomas Andrews Drake, the former NSA employee accused of felony espionage but convicted of a misdemeanor computer violation, was sentenced Friday in Baltimore's federal court to 240 hours of community service and one year's probation.
It was an abrupt end to a lengthy case that became a rallying point for both free-speech advocates and those seeking to plug media leaks. It had also threatened to imprison Drake, who was accused of retaining classified information to give to a Baltimore Sun reporter, for up to 35 years before a surprising plea deal was struck on the eve of trial last month.
This has been "an extraordinarily difficult ordeal for me, and [it caused] tremendous pain [for] my family and friends and colleagues," Drake, 54, told the court in a quiet voice.
The article cited The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, which is given each April to a citizen, corporate or government whistleblower, investigative journalist, or organization for bringing a specific issue of social importance to the public's attention. Past prize winners have included Matthew Hoh, the State Department official who resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan, and Thomas Tamm, the former Justice Department lawyer who exposed the existence of a secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times.
While prosecutors described Drake as ego-driven, he was often portrayed by sympathizers as an honest, patriotic man, and even won a $10,000 Ridenhour prize in April for truth-telling.
A June post on this blog described the case against Drake:
Drake, a former high-level NSA employee, was being prosecuted by the Obama justice department for blowing the whistle on gross mismanagement and privacy violations. After trying to raise alarm through official channels — and finding his concerns ignored at every turn — he eventually spoke to a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Drake's case was the most highly publicized example of the Obama administration's aggressive stance against whistle-blowers; the falling apart of the government's case might auger a shift in tactics by the justice department as it considers future prosecutions.
Read more about Thomas Drake's story on the Ridenhour site.