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Drone Whistleblower Hale Sentenced to 45 Months

July 30, 2021 (EIRNS)—On July 27, former military intelligence analyst Daniel Hale, who leaked details about the U.S. drone warfare program, was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison, after pleading guilty on March 31 for one charge of violating the Espionage Act. The documents Hale leaked to Jeremy Scahill included proof that Obama was running a targeted assassination program, revelations that 90% of people killed in drone strikes were not the intended targets, and details on the criteria the White House used for putting people on kill lists.

In a brief statement before his sentencing, Hale explained, “I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take—precious human life. I couldn’t keep living in a world in which people pretend that things weren’t happening that were. Please, Your Honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”

Hale’s home was searched in 2014 before The Intercept, where Scahill is a founding editor, published articles based on the documents Hale leaked. Hale was arrested in 2019.

Although a First Amendment defense, based on the public interest served by revealing government secrets, was forbidden, Hale explained his motivations prior to sentencing: “With drone warfare, sometimes 9 out of 10 people killed are innocent. You have to kill part of your conscience to do your job.”

The use of the Espionage Act, greatly expanded by Obama and continued under the Trump and Obama administrations, is a marker of the drift towards authoritarianism in the United States, in which the courage to tell the truth is met with prison.

The Dissenter newsletter made Hale’s July 22 hand-written letter to the judge is available, as well as its own transcription for clarity.

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