Former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, Daniel Hale, was sentenced to 45 months in prison on July 27 after pleading guilty to leaking several classified government documents with a journalist about the U.S. military’s drone and targeted assassination program.
Appearing in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom, the 33-year-old Hale told U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady that he believed it “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”
“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” Hale said. “I could not keep living in a world in which people pretend that things were not happening that were. Please, your honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”
In delivering his judgment, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady said the 45-month prison sentence he gave Hale was necessary to “deter others from disclosing government secrets,” the Associated Press reported.
Though the nearly four-year sentence fell short of the maximum sentence of 11 years behind bars sought by federal prosecutors, the conviction marked another victory for the U.S. government in an ongoing crackdown on national security leaks that has spanned multiple presidential regimes.
Hale was indicted by a grand jury and arrested in 2019 on a series of counts related to the unauthorized disclosure of national defense and intelligence information and the theft of government property. In addition to documents related to how the government chooses its drone strike targets — and information detailing how often people who are not the intended targets of those strikes are nonetheless killed — Hale was also accused of releasing a secret, though unclassified, rulebook detailing how the U.S. government places individuals in its extensive system of watchlists.
Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked classified information on U.S. government mass surveillance, was among those who denounced the judge’s decision, saying, “His crime was telling this truth: 90% of those killed by U.S. drones are bystanders, not the intended targets,” said Snowden. “He should have been given a medal.”
Photo from: Stand With Daniel Hale website