Congressional Staffer Who Helped Blow The Whistle On NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Sues The Feds
from the the-next-chapter dept
You may remember the ridiculous Thomas Drake case, in which the US government went after a former NSA employee under the Espionage Act, threatening him with decades in jail. However, as the details showed, Drake was really being targeted not for leaking information, but as a vindictive response for talking to Congressional staffers about what he saw as abuse and waste by the NSA. Jane Meyer, in the New Yorker, wrote a wonderfully detailed account of the case last year. It highlighted how the charges seemed pretty trumped up, claiming that having a certain document on his home computer was illegal, even though the clear target of the investigation was whether he had leaked info to the press.
Drake’s story intertwines with that of a Congressional staffer named Diane Roark, who plays a role in his story. A snippet from that New Yorker piece:
Not long after Binney quit the N.S.A., he says, he confided his concerns about the secret surveillance program to Diane Roark, a staff member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the agency. Roark, who has flowing gray hair and large, wide-set eyes, looks like a waifish poet. But in her intelligence-committee job, which she held for seventeen years, she modeled herself on Machiavelli’s maxim that it is better to be feared than loved. Within the N.S.A.’s upper ranks she was widely resented. A former top N.S.A. official says of her, “In meetings, she would just say, ‘You’re lying.’ ”
Roark agrees that she distrusted the N.S.A.’s managers. “I asked very tough questions, because they were trying to hide stuff,” she says. “For instance, I wasn’t supposed to know about the warrantless surveillance. They were all determined that no one else was going to tell them what to do.”
While Roark was not charged in the same process that resulted in charges against Drake, there was a search conducted, and computers taken. She’s now sued the US government, seeking the return (many years later) of the computers seized, as well as findings that the feds actions were unconstitutional.
Plaintiff asks that the Court find unconstitutional the following Government actions and claims:
the Government’s activities and assertions… that infringe on citizen speech and communications under the First Amendment to the Constitution and on property rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
the manner in which the Government investigated, managed and prolonged her case. Plaintiff contends that the actions taken against her constitute retaliation for her whistleblower activities and execution of her Congressional oversight responsibilities that revealed inefficenicy, contract fraud, the persistent waste of billions of dollars on a single ill-conceived program that was never built, plus illegal and unconstitutional operations.
To be honest, these kinds of lawsuits rarely get very far, but it should be interesting to watch either way…