BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It is a case that made national headlines. An NSA executive was indicted for leaking classified documents to the Baltimore Sun.
Weijia Jiang reports although most of the charges have been dropped, the man is paying a much larger price.
Late Friday, a federal judge sentenced Thomas Drake, 54, to a year’s probation and 240 hours of community service after he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misusing a government computer.
The former senior National Security Agency executive spoke out just moments afterward.
“My life and those of four other colleagues were turned inside out and personally and professionally shattered as a result of becoming targets of a multi-million dollar ‘leak’ investigation led by the Justice Department. Our lives will never be the same again,” Drake said.
Originally Drake was charged with 10 felonies under the Espionage Act that could have landed him in prison for life. But on the eve the trial was supposed to begin at the U.S. Courthouse in Baltimore, federal prosecutors dropped that case.
Drake admitted to giving WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, official information after he discovered the NSA was wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to illegally spy on Americans.
In a “60 Minutes” interview with Scott Pelley, Drake insists none of that information was classified.
“Not once ever. That was one of the fundamental rules whether it was oral communication, written, electronic or later on even in hard copy. It was all unclassified, period,” Drake told Pelley.
Still, the prosecutors were pushing for a $50,000 fine as part of the sentence. The judge rejected any fine or jail time pointing to all Drake has already lost. Defense attorneys say he was stripped of his security clearance, forced to resign and shunned by many colleagues.
Drake also lost his federal pension and job as a university professor. Now he is working in retail at an Apple store while finishing up a PhD.
Under President Obama the federal Justice Department has pursued five so-called leak cases. That’s more than all prior administrations combined.