US Government Rings Up Another Whistleblower On Espionage Charges

from the criminalizing-government-accountability dept

Because our government enjoys punishing people far more than it enjoys accountability, the DOJ is prosecuting another whistleblower. A former language analyst for the Air Force and NSA has been charged with espionage for leaking documents detailing the government's drone assassination program to The Intercept.

31-year-old David Hale is the whistleblower at the center of the DOJ's latest prosecution. This now puts the Trump Administration at the top of the list for most journalist sources prosecuted for espionage, according to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

President Trump’s Justice Department has arrested and charged former intelligence analyst Daniel Everette Hale for allegedly sharing classified national security information with a reporter. Hale is at least the sixth alleged journalistic source charged by the Trump administration in just over two years in office. The Justice Department has previously indicated dozens more leak investigations are ongoing.

The documents Hale allegedly handed to The Intercept provided the basis for the site's multi-part "Drone Papers" report. The Drone Papers exposed the breadth of the United States' program for extrajudicial, extraterritorial killings. This included operations in Yemen and Somalia where targeted killings were carried out despite lengthy gaps in intelligence and surveillance. The papers also showed the military referred to collateral damage from drone strikes as "enemies killed in action" without verifying whether or not everyone killed was actually a combatant.

Hale is unusual among prosecuted whistleblowers in that his investigation rolled out in a more public fashion than most. Hale was featured in the drone warfare documentary "National Bird," in which he discussed his reluctant participation in intelligence gathering that enabled drone strikes, as well as the risk he was taking talking about his intelligence work with the documentary crew.

Hale wasn't being overly dramatic. His home was raided by the FBI during the documentary's filming in 2014. According to the indictment [PDF], Hale's printing and removal of top secret documents began in early 2013 -- just a couple of months before the first Snowden leak. The indictment's timeline appears to be correct. In "Citizenfour," the documentary about Snowden's first meetings with Glenn Greenwald, Greenwald discusses another leak source that is most likely Hale.

At the end of the documentary “Citizenfour,” Intercept founder Glenn Greenwald tells NSA leaker Edward Snowden the Intercept has a new source of confidential information on the U.S. drone program.

“That’s really dangerous on the source’s side,” Snowden said, looking at some of the revelations. “That person is in­cred­ibly bold . . . Do they know how to take care of themselves?”

Greenwald reassures him “they’re very careful.”

Not careful enough, apparently. The indictment makes mention of encrypted communications and the possible use of Tor, but it does not seem to have prevented the government from accessing texts and chat messages sent from Hale to others about the leaked documents.

Hale is facing a total of five espionage-related charges, according to the indictment. What's somewhat surprising and/or depressing is how long this indictment took to arrive. The FBI's raid happened nearly five years ago (August 2014), but the indictment wasn't filed until March of this year. That's almost five years Hale was in limbo, waiting for the DOJ's next move.

What Hale exposed was a program that allowed the US to rain death on people around the world based only on gathered intelligence, rather than courtroom prosecutions. The US government has developed a taste for drone killings, which have only continued to escalate with each administration since their introduction during George W. Bush's presidency.

What we saw was information the government never wanted us to have. It wanted to keep these facts secret -- partly for national security reasons, but mainly because it knew the public would not wholeheartedly support point-and-click killings of people halfway around the world. Hale isn't a criminal. He's a whistleblower. But the government only likes whistleblowers it can keep from taking their problems outside its closed loop. Everyone else is just prosecution-bait.

Filed Under: air force, daniel hale, doj, drones, espionage act, leaks, nsa, prosecution, whistleblower
Companies: the intercept


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 3:58am

    We retaliate against whistleblowers all the time. Why should government be any different?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 4:12am

    Point and click killings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 4:21am

    Eh, we

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 4:26am

    'Eh, we'll get around to it eventually... maybe...'

    The FBI's raid happened nearly five years ago (August 2014), but the indictment wasn't filed until March of this year. That's almost five years Hale was in limbo, waiting for the DOJ's next move.

    They could not have been more vindictive and petty if they'd started the indictment with 'Because fuck you, that's why'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 4:30am

    Re:

    Who's the 'we' in that statement referring to? And because those granted more power should be held to higher standards, not lower.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 4:30am

    Re: 'Eh, we'll get around to it eventually... maybe...'

    Really? Are you sure? Are you a scholar of vindictiveness?

    Citations needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 4:32am

    Re: 'Eh, we'll get around to it eventually... maybe...'

    I can think of several ways to be more petty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 4:33am

    Thank you for proving yourself to be a scholar of pettiness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 4:38am

    The papers also showed the military referred to collateral damage from drone strikes as "enemies killed in action" without verifying whether or not everyone killed was actually a combatant.

    I hope the people who killed all those “enemies” — especially the little children — get treatment for all the mental health issues they will undoubtedly have later in life. They should get it while in prison for crimes against humanity, but hey, personal preference there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:14am

    Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    I thought killing people outside of this country and without an actual declaration of war was a war crime. Funny how this government doesn't even try to hide its illegal acts anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 5:24am

    This is not a contest!!

    Reports: Obama prosecuted more whistle-blowers than all other presidents.

    Trump: Hold my beer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    Wow, are you a lady or a man. If you knew anything about war, you would realize that (a) if you don’t win nothing else matters and (b) yes it’s difficult and causes mental health issues to kill people, but much more serious issues if you lose.

    Any reasonable adult realizes there are difficult moral dilemmas to deal with.

    You preach like a lady with no clue about real life. “Personal Preferances” - you’re a lady. And a poser. And a liar. And a fraud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:44am

    Re: Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    Another fucking idiot lady posting like an idiot lady. Funny? You think war is funny, you clueless moron?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 5:51am

    Re:

    As opposed to point and pull killings? Why do people have such a problem with drone strikes, just because the person isn't personally there to do the killing? The person isn't personally there when a bomber drops ordnance. The person isn't there when a bullet kills someone. Unless you're physically stabbing or chocking someone, you can just as easily disassociate yourself from the death when firing a gun as you can from clicking on a computer screen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:02am

    Re: Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    Given that the article is about someone who leaked information to the Intercept, I gather that they WERE trying to hide those illegal acts. Just not successfully.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:30am

    Why do people have such a problem with drone strikes

    They teach the “enemies” of the U.S. that it will kill “good” and “bad” people alike, including young children, with reckless abandon. They teach the people who fly the drones to think of human targets not as people, but as “things to blow up”. They teach U.S. leaders to think of war and killing and death in terms of “press button, kill terrorist, mission accomplished” — and to downplay or ignore “collateral damage”.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re:

    "If you knew anything about war, you would realize that (a) if you don’t win ... "

    If you knew anything about war you would know that no one wins.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:32am

    Oh, FFS…

    Come on now, that is unfair! Quit besmirching the good name of beer!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:33am

    Wow, are you a lady or a man.

    If this is your way of asking me on a date, I swear I would reject you regardless of my gender.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re: Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    I read your well constructed rebuttal and was quite impressed with the thoroughness, this is the entire ballgame wrapped up into one neat nutshell. Well done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re:

    Employers in all sectors, landlords, lenders, publishers, sports leagues, etc.

    Tell me: who would risk their job over something they witness when snitching won't even stop it? People keep their heads down and stay in their lane. Government is just a reflection of that because it is those people who elect them.

    What was MLK's retirement gift again?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:38am

    What an amazing state of affairs ... it is illegal to not be a criminal.

    Laws say one needs to report illegal activities or be held as an accomplice.
    If laws say it is a crime to blow the whistle, how do they dance around that huge bush?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: 'Eh, we'll get around to it eventually... maybe...'

    Stop dragging this thread around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Gaslighting the populace .... it's whats for dinner

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re:

    A world without war is like a school without bullies or cool kids: chaos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    They are intentionally creating more terrorists to go fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:40am

    Tell me: who would risk their job over something they witness when snitching won't even stop it?

    Someone with actual courage and morality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    LOL - wut?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re:

    Someone this obsessed with gender and sexuality must be repressing something pretty huge. I hope you get the help you need sooner rather than later.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:42am

    Too late, it’s already free falling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    "You think war is funny"

    It is, according to the implied definition of the word. The fact that you chose to ignore this context so that you could make a pathetically weak attack says more about you than anyone else. But, I ask again - what are you repressing, and how long will you remain untreated?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 6:45am

    Re: Oh, FFS…

    Yep, Trump claims not to be a drinker, so beer has no culpability here. Which makes his behaviour just seem much stranger.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:46am

    Don't worry Antifa will be better

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:11am

    Re:

    They took an oath. They broke it. If your word isn't good, neither are you.

    Protesting through channels to be reassigned or discharged would show courage and morality.

    KNOWINGLY breaking Treason laws isn't either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:16am

    They took an oath. They broke it. If your word isn't good, neither are you.

    If someone swears an loyalty oath to the president and the president then asks that person to break the law, who is the bad person if the oath-taker breaks said oath?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    Amazing. At least the last two generations of Americans have zero concept of "enemy".

    Or of war.

    The idea is to kill enemies with the minimum possible risk to your own people.

    Pretty much all casualties are "collateral damage", because they're no real threat to the US Government. We should be killing their leaders, from the top down.

    A war is won when you get the former enemy to police themselves to prevent whatever caused the war to begin with from happening again.

    Unfortunately, with the way wars are conducted now, that means killing enemy troops until their leadership (who should have been the targets all along) realizes those troops can't protect them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:20am

    Re: This is not a contest!!

    The raid was in 2014. Who was President in 2014?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    Wait I know I know - I know no one cares about your ability to judge anyone. Because you are an amoral asshole yourself. Get it? No one cares what you think about someone else’s morality, because you are a phony pony poser asshole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re:

    Amen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Oh, FFS…

    This snitching was done under the Obama administration. Quite frankly, he should be thrown into jail for all the leaking of classified documents. He may not agree with the policy or whatever, but that doesn't give him the right to leaks all this classified info. Toss him in jail and throw away the key. It's the only way to stop all these leaks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:29am

    Unfortunately, with the way wars are conducted now, that means killing enemy troops until their leadership (who should have been the targets all along) realizes those troops can't protect them.

    And this conclusion should you tell you something important: In war, there are no winners.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:33am

    Chelsea Manning would have been in prison for 35 years had Obama not commuted her sentence. Did her being tossed in prison “stop all [those] leaks”?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re:

    The oath is to uphold the Constitution, not to hide the bad acts of the Government. That same oath was taken by those in the Government who commit those bad acts, as well as the law enforcement agents who do the investigation and prosecution of whistleblowers.

    They claim treason, but from Wikipedia:

    "In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. This usually includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.[1]"

    I don't see exposing someone or some people in the Government to potential butthurt as any of those things. Disloyalty, maybe, criminal disloyalty, also maybe, but then only due to unreasonable definitions set in law by Congress, that have never been tested as to their constitutionality. Now if he had given the information to a foreign power, clandestinely, things might be different. He gave the information to the public, because the public has a right to know about things the Government does in their name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Rocky, 13 May 2019 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re:

    Apparently you care enough to reply to Stephen, albeit with a rant that doesn't answer the question asked - which isn't surprising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: This is not a contest!!

    OBAMA!!!!

    If you're going to leak classified Info, that's on YOU. You should be thrown into jail for a very long time. You can disagree with the policy's, it doesn't give you the right to steal and hand out hundreds or thousands of pages of classified documents.

    Personally, I don't think we should be doing these drone strikes. In fact, I think we should stay out of these countries. We just get more people hating us. We would be better off protecting our own borders instead. If these countries want to live in the 17th century, so be it. They can stay there and live like that. We don't want that 17th century attitude here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re:

    They took an oath. They broke it.

    I mean, that oath generally starts with "defend the Constitution of the United States." Depending on the interpretation of the oath and your view on government authority, that could supersede all later parts of the oath. Even if it doesn't, the law is rather complicated in this particular area since it's tangled up in a web of domestic law and international treaties which are quite contradictory, especially since we are not at war.

    KNOWINGLY breaking Treason laws isn't either

    There is only one "treason law" and it's included in the Constitution. This person didn't break it, nor has it been broken in the vast majority of government leaks historically.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    What we call 'war' today is different than what we called 'war' in the past. We aren't fighting a sovereign nation. They don't wear uniforms. There are no actual front lines. And we spread that word to things like the 'war on drugs' and other issues those standing for office on a law and order platform determine are good for sound bites.

    Since the use of the word 'war' has changed so much, the answer to whom might be winners must also change. And as we have learned, the 'winners' are those who get increased funding to fight 'their war'. Defeating the 'enemy' is no longer a part of war, it is the excuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re:

    Are you aware of the transgressions needed in order to meet the requirements of treason?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    NoahVail (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    They took an oath. They broke it.

    By "broke" you mean they upheld it w/ bravery and distinction?

    The 1st & foremost part of the oath reads;

    I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

    Which well describes what whistleblowers do, who release info to taxpayers - info that was hidden by Gov w/o a clear public interest in doing so

    In this case it may also reference a violation of Article 1 Section 8

    The Congress shall have Power ... To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Common misconception. The Enlistment Oath is to Defend the Constitution, not "uphold".

    Prior service on SCOTUS isn't a requirement for enlistment in the Armed Services. Enlistees don't get to "interpret" the Constitution.

    They can "exposing someone or some people in the Government to potential butthurt" all they want - so long as they remain within the law.

    Disclosure of Classified Materials is Treason.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    Tell me: who would risk their job over something they witness when snitching won't even stop it?
    Someone with actual courage and morality.

    You watch too much television.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re:

    Initially, "war" was population control - let the leaders cull out their overpopulation of aggressive young males.

    Forget the "war on ...." nonsense, it's not "war", it's hyperbole to make the policy sound "fierce".

    As to uniforms, "Death to America!" does a pretty good job of identifying "combatants".

    This "muslim war" on the US will stop when... Ayatollahs and imams stop preaching it. As I said, when the enemy polices itself.

    An alternative solution would be to elect a Pope Militant, have him declare a Crusade, and set aside a few hundred square miles of desert for both sides to fight over. At least it would drastically lower the number of religious fanatics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:05am

    Re:

    A person with actual integrity would refuse and resign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You've obviously never held a Clearance. You agree by signature of the documents that you *will be charged with Treason" if you lose, disclose, leak, etc. anything at any level of Classified.

    THAT is why people still holding a TS can't comment on anything these "whistleblowers" have disclosed, even when it's available on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 May 2019 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Chaos where everyone does their own thing while being mindful of others and cooperative and sharing...
    You know .... those commie pinko ideas they tried to indoctrinate our kids will on that socialist kids program Sesame street.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re:

    From the trailers, it appears we have a popular TV show now actually glorifying treason - "enemy within" or somesuch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    The "winners" in a war are the survivors of the side that didn't surrender.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 May 2019 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re: This is not a contest!!

    Protect your borders?

    You can't even protect your citizens from yourself.

    As for staying out then stop taking their stuff while you are at it BUT that would impact the quarterly returns and executive bonuses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OK, defend not uphold.

    I didn't say that SCOTUS needed to approve laws, I said that the constitutionality of laws related to treason, passed by Congress don't appear to have been tested, and SCOTUS would be the place that that testing would take place.

    From the Constitution, Article III, Section 3:

    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."

    That doesn't say anything about disclosure of anything, classified or not, unless it actually gave aid and comfort the the enemy. Telling the public about murder in the name of an undeclared war where no court found the target guilty of anything. Especially when there are associated killings of people who may or may not have participated in the supposed crime the 'guilty' party, who was not found guilty of in any court.

    Again, if the release was to the 'enemy' however that gets defined under current circumstances, and not the public, it might be different.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:31am

    Wow, but you are a bloodthirsy person. Have you ever given thought to being a drone pilot yourself?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re:

    Resigning is insufficient, when the problem is the government hiding activities under a classified label, as resigning just allows them to replace you with someone willing to go along with whatever they are doing, without giving the public the information they need to demand that the government stops an activity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:36am

    Ah yes, the “winners” who have to live with having killed people in a combat zone, who have to live with being trained to kill as a reflex command, who may even have to live with PTSD and all of its associated drawbacks. And let us not forget all the effects war has on the “winning” country’s domestic populace — effects such as grieving families who lose sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, and close friends to combat that the country may never have needed to enter in the first place.

    But yeah, ignore all that, and you can declare one side a true “winner” in a war.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Disclosure of Classified material is not, by the constitutional definition, sufficient for the charge of Treason. For instance, a non-citizen (someone who does not owe allegiance to the US) could disclose classified material and can not, by definition, be charged with treason.

    Moreover, while disclosure of classified material might fit the definition of treason, there are a number of other requirements and restrictions within the consitution and the law established by congress:

    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason...

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    Disclosure of classified material could be considered adhering to the enemies of the US, however proving that requires a showing of intent, and whom you disclose the information to can significantly change that analysis. Which is why we have the crime of espionage, which Courts have barred from allowing an intent analysis.

    Moreover, International law (these were extraterritorial murders, after all) and the UCMJ explicitly do not allow "I was just following orders" as a defense against the killing of non-combatants and that such orders should be disobeyed. Under this principle, disobeying the commands of higher ups and exposing the continued killing of non-combatants would appear to be the right action to take. Courts do seem to have disagreed, but that ruling was not in place when the events in question occurred.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 May 2019 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re:

    Not even then but for a small isolated group on the "winning" side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. icon
    OA (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The government cannot legally create conditions that makes their own illegal actions undiscoverable. That is the very essence of whistleblowing. Airtight criminality is not a thing that is allowed in a society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: This is not a contest!!

    The raid was under Obama, but the charges were actually brought under Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    Can't, blind in one eye.

    As to me being a bloodthirsty person, don't you ever get tired of religious nonsense?

    Let them kill each other and leave the rest of us alone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    I remember everyone standing in their front yard when that black Ford Galaxy slowly rolled through town, waiting to see what house it stopped at.

    So you're saying the US shouldn't have entered either of the World Wars? We should have stayed out of them, and by doing so "win" by not having all the items you discussed happen to us?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re:

    They took an oath. They broke it. If your word isn't good, neither are you.

    Wrong. The only oath they took was to defend and protect the Constitution:

    http://barryeisler.blogspot.com/2013/06/memo-to-authoritarians-oath-is-to.html

    In getting clearance they signed a legal contract, a form of an NDA. But when it comes down to the difference between violating that contract and upholding your oath, guess which one wins out?

    Whistleblowing is an important element of defending the Constitution.

    Protesting through channels to be reassigned or discharged would show courage and morality.

    As we've detailed for years, using the "proper channels" is a quick way for nothing to happen other than getting your ass fired.

    KNOWINGLY breaking Treason laws isn't either.

    You have no clue what the definition of "treason" is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, interestingly, that agreement does not change the requirements for conviction. The intent requirements, that you are adhering to the enemies of the US, do not go away with that requirement as you express it.

    Moreover, if someone was charged with treason, the punishment is death. Explicitly. That is the only punishment. We don't see that in these cases. They are actually being charged with espionage. It is a law that removes any capacity for affirmative defenses so they can railroad you into conviction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re:

    Can't, blind in one eye.

    And you're a fucking idiot. Flying a drone is not being a pilot! You don't need depth perception while looking at a 2D screen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. icon
    nasch (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am not a lawyer, but I don't think a civil contract can affect whether an action fits the definition of a criminal charge or not. I could sign a contract of employment with the government that says I will be charged with murder if I violate the terms, but that doesn't mean it would actually hold up. Has anyone ever actually been charged with treason based on the clearance agreement?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:34am

    Time for the personal glossary.

    So you're saying

    otherwording (or in-other-wordsing) — noun — the practice of summarizing a point of argument in a way that intentionally distorts the point into saying something it does not and attributes the false interpretation to the person who raised the original point; a blatant attempt to make winning an argument easier for someone who is out of their depth in said argument

    Example: You will often find the phrases “in other words” or “so you’re saying” at the beginning of an instance of otherwording.

    See also: strawman; your post

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:37am

    don't you ever get tired of religious nonsense?

    You do not hear me saying we should bomb the Westboro Baptist Church to make them “police” whatever is left.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re:

    FYO, the reply button is at the bottom of posts, not the top.

    Perhaps next time you won't write a reply to Bamboo Harvester and stick on a comment by Stephen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The only person to be convicted and executed for treason against the federal government occured in 1862 (William Bruce Mumford). I do not believe anyone has been even charged with treason since the end of World War II, so it is unlikely, but I don't know how far back the supposed contracts with this language goes.

    But you highlight the very problem, being charged is a far cry from conviction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Which is why the Rosenbergs were tried, convicted, and executed on charges of "Conspiracy to Commit Espionage".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. icon
    Thad (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 10:15am

    I...certainly wouldn't recommend that any more whistleblowers go to Glenn Greenwald or the Intercept at this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. icon
    ECA (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    But who has the power and who is using it...
    Are we interfering in national affairs that have nothing to do with us..Civil wars are a choice of who is to lead..

    If we had ability to Monitor and HELP all running to get an office, DEMOCRATICALLY, it would be best..Why shoot Certain individuals??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thanks for identifying as a right wing nut job. We appreciate the clarity and honesty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You agree by signature of the documents that you will be charged with Treason" if you lose, disclose, leak, etc. anything at any level of Classified.*

    Anyone can be "charged with Treason" (or charged with anything else) at any time, it just requires a federal prosecutor to file some paperwork with the court. It's very straightforward. To actually be convicted of treason, however, requires that the government have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt (including two witnesses), or a confession in court, that they have violated Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution. Saying "oh, they signed a paper saying we were required to charge them with treason" is 1) stupid as fuck, since all that means is that the government would be in violation of the contract for not submitting said paperwork to the court and 2) says absolutely nothing about whether those charges are supported by evidence. Indeed, any statement to that effect in a contract could only ever punish the government. If they are guilty of treason, the government doesn't need the contract to get them convicted. If they are not guilty of treason, the government is forced to waste everyone's time by prosecuting a case which can't go anywhere (or be in violation of the contract themselves).

    The government, like everyone else, can put whatever they want in a contract. That doesn't magically make the contract either relevant or enforceable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82. icon
    nasch (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If what the Rosenbergs did wasn't treason, how could this case be treason?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    lol ...

    So, yer sayin' continual war is great and the US should continue attempting to take over the universe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Oh, FFS…

    "he should be thrown into jail for all the leaking of classified documents"

    Who .. Obama?
    LOL
    and for some reason donny should not

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Easier to convict on conspiracy. Since it involved the a-bomb, it justified the death penalty.

    They were guilty of three major crimes - treason, espionage, and conspiracy to commit said espionage.

    They were all capitol crimes at that time. Are you suggesting the court go after the most difficult to prove crime when all have the same penalty?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh don’t ask that closet fascist to be logical. If there’s a jackboot lying around he’s the first to kiss it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 12:49pm

    Re: I wonder how it might apply here

    Isn’t there a famous saying about that somewhere?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:01pm

    Disclosure of Classified Materials is Treason

    The degree of overclassification is at such an absurd magnitude that common citizens commit this form of treason everyday.

    Our military often classifies television broadcasts, and advises government employees that they break the law if they watch the segment in question.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:17pm

    Espionage is the new treason

    Tyrant and despot have come to mean oppressor (rather than merely dictator) and execute has come to mean kill by decree rather than enact by order of law

    Similarly term treason while it still means betrayal of the state is turning into a false charge by implication. Treason is a charge a high-ranking official might accuses his personal enemy as a means to dispose of him. Treason is the charge given to imprisoned enemies of a fictional empire so that the reader knows it is evil. When Mr. Tumnus is arrested by the wolves for the White Witch, he is charged with treason.

    Enter the Espionage Act which still sounds like it is the crime of engaging in spycraft against the state, even though the law itself is ambiguous enough to be usable to prosecute anyone.

    And so it is used to eliminate personal enemies of high-ranking officials, such as people who embarrass them.

    So when Mr. Tumnus is arrested for espionage, it's because he's a commie pinko spy for the USSR and deserves to die.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:42pm

    To Defend the Constitution

    Disobeying orders is typically prosecuted more immediately and harshly, while obeying orders but doing bad things for your country is prosecuted later, and inconsistently.

    But yeah, I get regular stories from people being ordered to do questionable things, and having to choose between being fucked now or fucked later. Kills military morale.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 1:58pm

    Note to Leigh Beadon:

    Please do not put this in the weekly top comments recap if this gets to the top two for Insightful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 3:23pm

    Opposition to Drone Strikes

    They're super messy is the primary complaint.

    Drone strikes average fifty civilian casualties for every one person-of-interest killed. The US armed forces justifies it by calling them militants, but that includes the grandmothers and toddlers. And the US will order a drone strike on crap intel, commonly just to raze a town full of brown people. During the apex of the Afghanistan campaign US drone strikes were killing more civilians than all the firearms in the United States combined. We're no longer doing 500-ish sorties a year in Afghanistan, but we're probably doing about that many in Pakistan, and then more wherever else Trump has approved drone-strike campaigns.

    Incidentally, Trump canceled the 2019 public drone strike report, and has lifted the casualty limits that the Obama administration implemented, so we're probably killing even more with less excuse.

    It particularly bothers me we have the ability to mount sniper rifles on our drones, and computers that can shoot them better than human riflemen, yet there hasn't been any effort to swap over to a system that would have no casualties at all. The US and CIA are not really trying to limit casualties and have made every indication they couldn't care less.

    Another issue is our treatment of our drone teams who get the worst of both being combat personnel (the PTSD from murdering people and then getting close up to look at and verify the carnage) and regarded as pogues since they're not being directly shot at. Given many of them were once before pilots of manned aircraft who flew combat missions, it's something of a shock to be transferred and suddenly regarded as beneath the mud on an infantryman's boots.

    Drone-pilot burnout is now a problem phenomenon, and we can't recruit new pilots fast enough to maintain our respective campaign schedules, so we overwork our current teams, speeding the rate at which they burn out. In the meantime our brass and civilian suits who think it's just like a video game can't respect the weight of pulling the trigger to incinerate a market full of civilians.

    As I keep on saying, the counter-recruitment propaganda writes itself these days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 3:28pm

    "War does not determine who is right – only who is left."

    --sometimes apocryphally attributed to Bertrand Russell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2019 @ 6:20pm

    Silencing Supporters Now

    This is the first time I have seen traditional supporters of Techdirt silenced, hidden, censored and disappeared.

    You’re losing your audience. Your’re Following the leftist fascist communist Marxist uni-party RINO idiots over the cliff.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Opposition to Drone Strikes

    They're super messy is the primary complaint.

    Apparently they're trying to change that part with the flying ginsu.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Refusing to sign assumes that they know what's going on before they sign on(which, given how much the government tries to hide things like this is simply not realistic to assume), and resigning ensures that the objectionable activity is able to continue(if not increase in scope), because the only people in the know and in a position to make the knowledge public are those that agree with what's going on.

    Both of those options are great for ensuring that bad practices continue, and terrible for getting them to stop and/or be reformed into less bad forms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 May 2019 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    As we've detailed for years, using the "proper channels" is a quick way for nothing to happen other than getting your ass fired.

    'Only' being fired would be an improvement I'd say, there's also harassment, lawsuits... generally making life hell for anyone naive enough to try to air their superiors' dirty laundry via the 'proper channels' and sending a message to the next would-be whistleblower to keep their eyes down and their mouth shut.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 12:59am

    Flying Ginsu

    If the Flying Ginsu weapon actually works, and if it is deployed frequently for strikes, and it does reduce our abominable casualty rate, then its development is good news, indeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 1:39am

    War of assassins

    We should be killing their leaders, from the top down.

    That is a very modern (late 20th century) interpretation of war. Before Chess was a game it was an explanation of why one king has to massacre the enemy's troops to get to topple the enemy regime. Specifically, people with power will use it (all of it if necessary) to defend their right to have and keep it.

    Of course there are problems with assassination:

    ~ Assassinated leaders can easily turn into martyrs, and the cause celebre that drives the footmen to keep fighting.

    ~ Assassinations are still considered subversive and foul play (like using chemical agents or blowing up sacred icons) and might give the enemy additional reasons to fight.

    ~ Most importantly, officials that might be targeted for assassination are expendable, and will be replaced with someone who is likely to continue the same policies. It's one of the reasons the Allies didn't attempt to kill Hitler: His principal officers believed as he did, and some were smarter.† So if you're going to attack the top, you have to choose someone whose immediate cabinet vehemently disagrees with him. (Such as, President Trump.)

    When that happens, said cabinet may do you the service on its own.

    † There were over forty attempts on Hitler, but they were plotted from within because they knew the German administration would happily throw all the German people at the Allied forces, down to the last child. The Allies did kill Heydrich, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100. identicon
    OGquaker, 14 May 2019 @ 3:48am

    Re:

    There is an alternative, don't take more than one oath. The Commandment is about swearing, does anyone thing Moses was talking about body parts? On the assumption that everyone has a unbreakable agreement with God, swearing to anybody else? two oaths won't hunt. Of course you may be shunned from society except as a lowly peddler (chocolate, oats or waling) 12,000 put in Lancaster prison and elsewhere and three hung on the Boston Commons, including the Wife of the Governor of Road Island. Thus, in America, we 'Afferm'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101. identicon
    OGquaker, 14 May 2019 @ 4:22am

    Re:

    'They' are Hollywood. In films and video games, all human conditions are solved with a gun or killing device, I sold thirty gallons of blood a month to Hollywood.
    Disclamer: my house had a shooting range for years, got an award for Sharpshooter from the US Army, and have NEVER found a use for killing anyone, go figure. http://www.meetinghouse.tokyo/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102. identicon
    OGquaker, 14 May 2019 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re: Re: This is not a contest!!

    But 'they' have our opioids

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103. identicon
    Rog S., aka Judediah Pinkerton Benjamins, 14 May 2019 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re:

    ...“they ”...hehehe....

    Whoever, “they ” are these days.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 14 May 2019 @ 8:49am

    Re: War of assassins

    I once heard the Vietnamese War described as "The American gemerals were trying to play Chess, but the VC was playing Go."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  105. identicon
    DP, 14 May 2019 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re:

    The language from the usual troll is getting beyind a joke. As has been said, if someone is losing an argument (Trump-like?) the party concerned quite often resorts to insults and/or profanities, which is pretty unbecoming and, in my book, smacks of a distinck lack of intellect. In other words, thick as a pile of bricks. I rest my case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  106. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 4:03am

    Re: Re:

    "They took an oath. They broke it. If your word isn't good, neither are you."

    "...solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

    You mean the oath which compels them to become a whistleblower if they discover actions taken by superiors or policy they perceive to be in violation of the US constitution?

    "Protesting through channels to be reassigned or discharged would show courage and morality."

    Most whistleblowers have already done this, and found as a result that the only thing this "courage" has done for them is not only to add them to a shit list but also render them accountable for the continued malfeasance.

    When the torture festival at Abu Ghraib was revealed anyone who knew but did not blow the whistle was, in moral and legal sense, an accomplice.

    Are you saying you would PREFER that the whole of the military service was stacked with people who accept wholesale actual murder? With the flimsy excuse that they shouldn't have made waves putting egg on the face of their employer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  107. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 4:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "From the trailers, it appears we have a popular TV show now actually glorifying treason - "enemy within" or somesuch."

    You mean the documentaries around the US declaration of independence when the colony committed high treason against their government?

    If the problem you have is that people choose to betray the government out of love for the constitution and moral principle then the real issue is with your government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  108. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re:

    "As opposed to point and pull killings? Why do people have such a problem with drone strikes, just because the person isn't personally there to do the killing?"

    For multiple reasons, but primarily it's because it's become so convenient to take out a target at a distance the "collateral" no longer matters.

    Bombings are bad enough when you end up bombing weddings, nomad caravans, and chinese embassies due to someone insisting a target is hit before verifying what the hell the target in question is.

    But it becomes horrifying when collateral damage - the death of unaffiliated civilians - isn't even considered undesirable anymore.

    From a moral viewpoint at that point the US is no longer separated from the terrorist who believes that ramming a skyscraper with a plane is OK because it will cause harm to his chosen opposition.

    And that moral viewpoint is incredibly important since it determines whether the rest of the world will be looking at a principled advocate of human values - or two wild dogs trying to bite each other to death without a care who gets involved in the fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  109. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 4:16am

    Re: Was a war declared that I am unaware of

    "I thought killing people outside of this country and without an actual declaration of war was a war crime."

    It is.

    Which is what makes this pretty terrifying. Morally speaking a nation which deliberately allows collateral damage in the form of civilian deaths is no different than the lunatics who drove a plane into the world trade center because they similarly thought the end justified the means.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  110. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 15 May 2019 @ 4:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Oh, FFS…

    "He may not agree with the policy or whatever, but that doesn't give him the right to leaks all this classified info."

    Actually there's a legal principle involved. Being aware of deliberate murder means him shutting up about it makes him an accomplice.

    If you want to shut these leaks down then the only way is to either ensure no patriot is ever allowed access to government secrets...or you need to ensure that said patriots can have a clean conscience upholding their duties.

    Your argument is basically that of of a made man in the mob advocating the guy who snitched about the latest murder needs to be given a pair of concrete overshoes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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