Ex-NSA aide gains plea deal in leak case; setback to U.S.

The New York Times reports:

A former spy agency employee agreed late Thursday to plead guilty to a minor charge in a highly publicized leak prosecution, undercutting the Obama administration’s unusual campaign to prosecute government officials who disclose classified information to the press.

The National Security Agency official, Thomas A. Drake, had faced a possible 35 years in prison if convicted on felony charges under the Espionage Act. Instead, he agreed to admit to a misdemeanor of misusing the agency’s computer system by providing “official N.S.A. information” to an unauthorized person, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. Prosecutors said in the written plea agreement that they would not oppose a sentence under which Mr. Drake would serve no time.

A formal plea hearing was set for Friday morning in Baltimore. The presiding judge, Richard D. Bennett of the district court, could impose a sentence of up to a year in prison. But legal experts said it would be highly unusual to impose a prison term when the Justice Department was not seeking incarceration.

The deal represented the almost complete collapse of the government’s effort to make an example of Mr. Drake, who was charged last year in a 10-count indictment that accused him of obstructing justice and lying to investigators. It is uncertain whether the outcome will influence the handling of three pending leak cases or others still under investigation.

The case against Mr. Drake is among five such prosecutions for disclosures to the news media brought since President Obama took office in 2009: one each against defendants from the National Security Agency, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the military and the State Department. In the past, such prosecutions have been extremely rare — three or four in history, depending on how they are counted, and never more than one under any other president.

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3 thoughts on “Ex-NSA aide gains plea deal in leak case; setback to U.S.

  1. Steve Ward

    I was more than a little irked by the headline “… setback to the U.S.” over the NY Times article. This was a setback for the Obama Justice Department, not the U.S.

  2. Norman

    Yes, a set back for the “O” regime. It’s the political season here in the U.S. One might ask just who is minding the shop? With top officials changing places or departing, it doesn’t bode well for the country. Perhaps the “O” could ask Kieth Richards to lend him his recently awarded “Brass Balls”, then maybe at least he could give the impression he has a pair.

  3. eddy mason

    Great idea Norman, and maybe Keef could share some of his wisdom! Be a step above what currently passes for wisdom from Washington. Perhaps Keef should offer to run for president for the Republicans and Teabaggers, that would really be a step up!!

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