Ex-airman sentenced to 45 months for leaking drone info

Daniel Hale
Posted at 10:47 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 23:47:15-04

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP/WTVF) — A former Air Force intelligence analyst has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret information about the U.S. government’s drone strike program to a journalist.

Daniel Hale, of Nashville, told a federal judge he felt compelled to disclose the information out of guilt over his own participation in a drone program that he believed was indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan far from the battlefield. But U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady told Hale he had other avenues for airing his concerns besides leaking to a journalist.

Court documents say Hale began communicating with a reporter in April 2013 while assigned to the National Security Agency. Nearly a year later, while he was working as a cleared defense contractor at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Hale allegedly printed six classified documents that were not related to his work. He soon after exchanged a series of messages with the reporter, whose publication later printed the six documents.

Hale is accused of printing 36 documents from his Top Secret computer, 23 of which were not related to his work. At least 17 of these documents were given to the reporter and published by the reporter's news outlet.

He admitted to meeting with the reporter on several occasions and communicating with them by phone, text message, email and at times an encrypted messaging platform.

Hale pleaded guilty to retention and transmission of national defense information earlier this year.