WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors in Virginia charged a former U.S. intelligence analyst with providing classified information to a reporter, according to unsealed court documents.
Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., was arrested Thursday and was expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Nashville. He was charged under the Espionage Act and with theft of government property. The Espionage Act is a World War I-era law that criminalizes the disclosure of potentially damaging national security secrets to someone not authorized to receive them.
Hale's case is the latest example of the Justice Department's efforts to find and prosecute officials who provide reporters with sensitive information, an aggressive approach dating to President George W. Bush's administration. The number of leak cases accelerated under President Barack Obama, and the heightened pace has continued under President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors said that in 2013, while Hale was enlisted in the Air Force and assigned to the National Security Agency, he began communicating with a reporter. Details in the indictment suggest the reporter worked for "The Intercept," an online publication. This is the third case in which someone was prosecuted after providing the media outlet with classified information.
Hale met with the reporter multiple times and communicated using encryption. Prosecutors said Hale left the Air Force and was then assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he worked as a political geography analyst.
At the agency, prosecutors said, Hale printed 36 documents from his computer. Hale provided at least 17 of them to the reporter and "The Intercept," which published the documents in whole or in part. Eleven of the published documents were marked as "Top Secret" or "Secret," prosecutors said.
They include a secret memo outlining a military campaign against al-Qaida overseas, a top-secret intelligence report on an al-Qaida operative, and a secret PowerPoint slide "outlining the effects of the military campaign targeting Al-Qaida overseas," according to the indictment.
Court papers do not identify by name the reporter who allegedly received the leaks, but details in the indictment make clear that Jeremy Scahill, a founding editor of "The Intercept," is the reporter who received the leaks.
The indictment states that many of the classified documents were disclosed in an October 2015 news article.
On October 15, 2015, Scahill published an article on "The Intercept" titled "The Assassination Complex" that relies on "a cache of secret slides that provides a window into the inner workings of the U.S. military's kill/capture operations at a key time in the evolution of the drone wars."
The story says the documents "were provided by a source within the intelligence community who worked on the types of operations and programs described in the slides. The Intercept granted the source's request for anonymity because the materials are classified and because the U.S. government has engaged in aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers."
Scahill's book, Dirty Wars, was published in 2013, and the indictment indicates Hale and Scahill met while Scahill was promoting the book at a Washington, D.C., bookstore. The book reported on the use of drones to attack and kill targets, such as al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, among other things.
Betsy Reed, "The Intercept" editor-in-chief, issued a statement Thursday saying the news outlet does not they do not comment on matters related to anonymous sources. She did say the documents described in the indictment "detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including U.S. citizens, through drone strikes. They are of vital public importance."
She criticized the Trump administration for following the path of the Obama administration in aggressively prosecuting leaks and using "the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who enable journalists to uncover disgraceful, immoral, and unconstitutional acts committed in secret by the U.S. government."
According to the indictment, in August 2014, Hale's cellphone contact list included information for the reporter, and he possessed two thumb drives. One thumb drive contained a page marked "secret" from a classified document that Hale had printed in February 2014. Prosecutors said Hale had tried to delete the document from the thumb drive.
The other thumb drive contained Tor software and the Tails operating system, which were recommended by the reporter's online news outlet in an article published on its website regarding how to anonymously leak documents.
Information for this article was contributed by Adam Goldman of The New York Times; and by Matthew Barakat and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press.
A Section on 05/10/2019
Print Headline: U.S. accuses ex-intelligence analyst of leaks