Judge Looking Into Alleged Destruction Of Exculpatory Evidence By Pentagon In Thomas Drake Prosecution

from the but,-but-he-broke-the-rules!-[breaks-doc-destruction-rules] dept

More government malfeasance is being alleged in the all-over-but-the-Genius-Bar-employment prosecution of whistleblower Thomas Drake. Documents directly related to his whistleblowing efforts — ones that would possibly have helped him fight the administration’s efforts to punish him for supposedly-protected activities — were allegedly destroyed by the Department of Defense.

Two government watchdog agencies are investigating whether the Pentagon inspector general destroyed evidence improperly during the high-profile leak investigation of former National Security Agency senior official Thomas Drake.

“DOD OIG’s handling of documents . . . is within the scope of an ongoing inquiry by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC),” Raymond Hulser, the chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, wrote to U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher in a letter dated June 11. “In the event that OSC finds evidence of criminal conduct during the course of its work, it will refer that evidence to the Department of Justice for appropriate action.”

Succinctly put, the “proper channels” for whistleblowing were used by Thomas Drake, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act. The missing files are related to his attempt to utilize those proper channels. Obviously, following procedures can’t really be considered “espionage.” The government’s case against Drake fell apart, resulting in Drake pleading guilty to a single “unauthorized computer use” charge. But the case went on long enough that it drained Drake’s personal savings and his revoked security clearance pretty much barred him from further government employment, leading to his current position as an employee of an Apple store.

The government’s handling of documents first became an issue during the evidence-gathering stage of Drake’s prosecution, when his criminal defense lawyers sought records related to his whistleblower cooperation with the Pentagon inspector general’s office in order to defend him.

At the time, the Justice Department told the judge that most of the “hard copy documents” related to the Pentagon inspector general’s office audit that Drake had cooperated with couldn’t be provided to the defense because they’d been destroyed “pursuant to a standard document destruction policy.”

Drake’s current lawyers, who didn’t represent him in the criminal case, told the court in a letter in April that they learned otherwise while representing Drake in his recent whistleblower claim against the NSA.

Drake’s lawyers wrote that the Pentagon inspector general’s office destroyed the documents “outside of normal policy and to impede . . . the criminal case.”

Even if these documents do somehow materialize, there’s not much they can do other than vindicate Drake’s actions. It won’t rebuild his personal finances or return him to his former government position. In fact, even if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered, it’s likely to result in no meaningful actions. The court itself can’t do much more than refer the findings to the Department of Justice, which has already noted that it is looking into these allegations. But to what end? Proof of deliberate destruction of evidence is the sort thing routinely wrist-slapped by the DOJ and the administration, both of which will probably allow the DOD to investigate itself and offer various plans to prevent future malfeasance, should it somehow manage not to clear itself of any wrongdoing.

If evidence of document destruction comes to light, the only practical purpose it will serve is to further illustrate how rigged the “justice” card game is — what with prosecutors playing with incomplete, marked decks provided to them by “victims” of government whistleblowing.

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Comments on “Judge Looking Into Alleged Destruction Of Exculpatory Evidence By Pentagon In Thomas Drake Prosecution”

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Anonymous Coward says:

he hasn’t a hope! if the government or any of it’s departments cant get someone for actually doing anything wrong, the saving evidence will be destroyed (unless it helps the governments case, of course) or/and manufactured to make that someone guilty even if the charges are dismissed except for the most minor of infractions possible. the government never loses! any fabrication that is needed,is fabricated, just as any planting of evidence needed, is planted!!

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Punishment a bit lower than indicated

I think one of the passages needs the corrections I have indicated, because it incorrectly indicates appropriate punishment:

Proof of deliberate destruction of evidence [needed by the defense] is the sort thing routinely [punished by the tickling feather] by the DOJ and the administration, both of which will probably allow the DOD to investigate itself and offer various plans to prevent future malfeasance, should it somehow manage not to clear itself of any wrongdoing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Punishment a bit lower than indicated

Which is the wrong way to go. DRake should actually have a slam-dunk case for harrassment in the workplace, as well as a criminalk case involving the clowns at the top who decided that destroying evidence was a good idea.

This is what happens when people get to ignore the rule of law in government.

Anonymous Coward says:

But, but, but, Sarbanes-Oxley!

“One of the stipulations of Sarbanes-Oxley is the preservation of evidence. Failing to do so, or purposefully destroying records, can result in felony criminal charges. This, unfortunately, doesn’t even have to be willful destruction. The law forbids the destruction of evidence, regardless of personal knowledge of ongoing investigations, or even if no investigation has even commenced.”

Nah…..will never happen!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nice to see someone that might become a fully informed juror if you are not one already.

Do not ever DARE to tell the court that you intend to be a juror with integrity. Don’t lie doing it either, just omit telling them anything they don’t ask.

Courts just HATE HATE HATE jurors with integrity and fully informed.

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