Many of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake’s allegations of waste and an ineffective intelligence program at the NSA were backed up in a Department of Defense Inspector General’s (DoD IG) report, which the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) received today. The report is dated December 15, 2004, and has not been previously been made public in any form until today.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecuted Drake under the Espionage Act for unauthorized possession of “national defense information.” The prosecution was believed to be an outgrowth of the DOJ’s investigation into disclosures of the NSA warrantless wiretapping to The New York Times and came after Drake blew the whistle on widespread problems with a NSA program called TRAILBLAZER. Most of the Espionage Act charges against Drake dealt with documents associated with his cooperation with this DoD IG audit. However, this month the government’s case against Drake fell apart and prosecutors dropped the felony charges. Instead, Drake pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of exceeding the authorized use of a computer.
The report, which was heavily redacted, found that “the National Security Agency is inefficiently using resources to develop a digital network exploitation system that is not capable of fully exploiting the digital network intelligence available to analysts from the Global Information Network.” The DoD IG also found, in reference to TRAILBLAZER, that “the NSA transformation effort may be developing a less capable long-term digital network exploitation solution that will take longer and cost significantly more to develop.”
“This is just more evidence that the government never should have prosecuted Thomas Drake,” said Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director. “We should be thankful that Mr. Drake had the courage to stand by his convictions and do what was best for the country.”
POGO obtained a copy of the DoD IG report under a Freedom of Information Act request. Read the DoD IG report.