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Judge Blasts Prosecution of Alleged NSA Leaker

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the be-less-bad dept.

The Courts 95

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that Judge Richard D. Bennett harshly criticized US prosecutor William M. Welch III for his treatment of a former spy agency official Thomas Drake, who was accused of leaking classified material. Bennett called the delays in the now-closed case 'unconscionable' and compared it to British tyranny in the colonial era. In 2007, FBI agents raided Drake's house, but it took over two years for officials to indict him. 'And then, over a year later, on the eve of trial, in June of 2011, the government says, "Whoops, we dropped the whole case,"' Bennett said. Drake was given a mild penalty for pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of exceeding authorized use of a computer: a year's probation and 240 hours of community service while all 10 felony counts were dropped. 'That's four years of hell that a citizen goes through,' Bennett said. 'It was not proper. It doesn't pass the smell test.' In contrast with his tough words for Welch, Bennett singled out for praise Drake's public defenders, James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman, saying their work on behalf of Drake was 'at the highest level of professionalism.' Judge Welch said the matter was now closed and addressed Drake: 'I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your life.'"

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95 comments

House debt vote expected within the hour (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953570)

A final hour of debate on a compromise debt-ceiling bill is under way in the U.S. House, with a final vote expected about 4:45 p.m. MT, a senior GOP leadership aide says. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will support the compromise deal, a Democratic leadership aide says. It was unclear whether congressional leaders had the votes to ensure the bill's passage, particularly in the House.

Re:House debt vote expected within the hour (0)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953630)

We has internets and can read that if we care too. Thread crap elsewhere.

Drake coulda saved us a billion dollars (5, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953686)

the project he 'blew the whistle' on was Trailblazer, which spent a billion dollars and produced uhm, just about zero actual product.

and if you count up the thousands of Thomas Drakes in the government, well, if they had all been listened to for the past 10+ years, we could have saved a trillion dollars.

Re:Drake coulda saved us a billion dollars (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953858)

and if you count up the thousands of Thomas Drakes in the government, well, if they had all been listened to for the past 10+ years, we could have saved a trillion dollars.

Maybe if they just hired fewer people named "Thomas Drake," or made them change their names. Thousands of people with the same name is going to get confusing in any organization...

Re:Drake coulda saved us a billion dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953948)

Not if they just called them "Bruce." Would you mind?

Re:Drake coulda saved us a billion dollars (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954934)

Yeah, but the millions you'd spend on a hashing algorithm that could handle thousands of Thomas Drakes would negate the savings.

"harshly criticized" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953592)

So... he basically gave him a slap on the wrist. Yeah, that'll teach him.

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953856)

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. Only a very small percentage of the corruption is ever completely revealed.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (3, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953960)

Government of Somalia is EXTREMELY corrupt. US government is corrupt, but manages to maintain its amateur status.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954046)

A 900 pound amateur corrupt gorilla is much more dangerous for everybody than an extremely corrupt gazelle.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954408)

I wish there was an "insightfully funny" mod. That rocks.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

niko9 (315647) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954450)

A 900 pound amateur corrupt gorilla is much more dangerous for everybody than an extremely corrupt gazelle.

Hi! I'm new here!

Should I say something about gorillas freezing in the winter?

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36956106)

A 200kilo professional corrupt gorilla [Somali governments] a few hundred miles away is much more dangerous to me than a gaggle of 400kilo amateur corrupt gorillas [Western governments] on the other side of the world.

Rifle practice on the reef at low tide. I hope the rifles don't blow up.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (4, Insightful)

thaig (415462) | more than 2 years ago | (#36956636)

If you came from Somalia you wouldn't think it was funny - you'd prefer to live in the US any day as I believe some have managed to do.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

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Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (2)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954912)

You can't describe any government on the planet without also including the word corruption somewhere in your description. The US government is no more corrupt than any other international government and in some instances the it is a great deal less corrupt. You want to see real corruption? Try Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Venezuela, Pakistan, Egypt (and no the new government will not be any less corrupt than the old one), and damn near every country on the African continent. And unfortunately it is the US that has been providing these countries with all the goodies that mysteriously end up getting re-directed away from their intended destination into the leaders pockets. It's time for the US to cease all government aid to foreign countries. And I mean none, nada, not a penny. If someone wants any money let them openly request it in writing and explain exactly what it will be used for and allow outside auditors to monitor the transactions. Need a little military help? Put it in writing and be prepared to receive an itemized bill with 50% due up front. Hell, if the US government were not over run with idiots they could actually start making money on the military instead of giving it away for free. Sure this type of thing will lead to dictators and all kinds of other problems but as long as they keep it within their own borders who gives a shit. China, Russia both beat the US corruption index because they don't even pretend to be transparent and accountable in the first place and if any of their citizens do complain too much they are easy to remove. I am NOT saying there is no corruption in the US government but it hardly sets the standard either.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957966)

The Government of Greenland is very clean. In fact they told the banks to stuff it and let them collapse. This put the country in a better position that the idiot move the USA did to protect the wealth of a few hundred billionaires.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36959394)

My subdivision home owners association oversees more people than the government of Greenland.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36962168)

I think he meant Iceland. Greenland belongs to Denmark.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36963850)

My example pretty much stands.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36958462)

and in some instances the it is a great deal less corrupt

Ah, yes that's true BUT the tinfoil hatters and US-haters will just say that those governments are corrupt as a result of US influence. The term "Military Industrial Complex" will certainly be used, along with references to "Imperialism" and "Colonialism".

We're the Whipping Boy of planet Earth, everything is our fault. If we actually ARE involved, then we shouldn't be, and if we actually are NOT involved, then we should be. It's your typical Catch-22 situation, and the only way that will change is if someone who is easier to hate shows up to the party.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36959594)

People always complain about the US selling weapons to the world but looking at all of the ongoing conflicts I do not see any insurgents, terrorists,freedom fighters, or psychopathic religious zealots using any US weapon systems. If you destroyed every manufacturer of AK-47's in the world most of these guys would be back to throwing rocks and Israel has certainly shown how to eliminate that particular threat. 70'e era RPGs may be effective on school buses and crowds of innocent and unwary pedestrians but I have never seen them using any Javelin ATGM systems. Alas for people to recognize this would require them to acknowledge that the US is not the sole supplier of mayhem in the world and that certainly can not be tolerated. Just the expense to re-paint all the placards and posters railing against the US would be devastating to the "cause".

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

OutLawSuit (1107987) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955714)

Well at least the Tea Party is striving to turn the US in to Somalia...a country with no government.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (0)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#36956316)

I'm confused as to how the TEA party is turning the US into a bunch of islamic warlord(a type of government) controlled villages. Enlighten me.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

GlennC (96879) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958856)

s/islamic/Christian/g

How's that?

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36959662)

The Tea Party isn't a religious movement. I'm an atheist, and I'm extremely sympathetic to their cause. Their battle is primarily over economic freedom.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

x6060 (672364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36961654)

Please stop being informed and providing a reasonable opinion. This is /.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36962052)

> The Tea Party isn't a religious movement. I'm an atheist, and I'm extremely sympathetic to their cause. Their battle is primarily over economic freedom.

Nonsense. The Tea Party is a bunch of whites, typically ill-educated, who fear change and what they see as the incursion of people of color on traditionally white privilege. The use of Xtian and racist rhetoric among Tea Partiers is enormous.....

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36959696)

The _____(insert government/corporation/church)_____ is EXTREMELY corrupt!

Ooo, corruption! Let's solve that problem right after we catch all terrorists ever, cure all disease ever, and post to Slashdot about the next 2+2=4 well known matter that we can CAPS RAGE on!

Re:"harshly criticized" (3, Informative)

Garridan (597129) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954624)

Actually, contrary to the article, summary, title, etc., the prosecution was not harshly criticized. Both the prosecution and the defense were commended for their professionalism. The judge harshly criticized the executive branch, and complained at length about the fact that he didn't know who was responsible. Apparently, none of the reporters actually read the transcript, or perhaps the original did, and the re-bloggers just took the spin for fact, and spun harder themselves.

Re:"harshly criticized" (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954720)

So... he basically gave him a slap on the wrist. Yeah, that'll teach him.

I'm pretty unimpressed with Judges giving meaningless tongue lashing to paid flack lawyers as if it will matter.

Cite them in contempt. (personally, no part of which can be paid by the government,) and fine the DOJ huge contempt fees as well.

Nothing else matters. I guarantee you this lawyer and his staff are laughing over martinis about this.

Re:"harshly criticized" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955404)

Wonder how much overtime the lawyer got paid. As it wasn't even a slap on the wrist, but a little talking down, I'm sure the prosecutor went to lunch on the client. Who's that? Me!! And you! How much did this lawyer get paid? Perhaps we can dock him that salary to help solve the budget deficit.

Come to think of it, how about docking EVERY lawyer who brings frivolous lawsuits to court.

Re:"harshly criticized" (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955838)

I was wondering that myself. It's well and good that he tongue lashed the prosecution, but why not then make the sentence for the misdemeanor be time served? He did acknowledge that the process of prosecution itself was a punishment and that it was unjustly harsh, so why heap more on the guy even if it is "just" probation and community service?

Besides, based on that $10,000 prize, it sounds like the community feels he has already served it.

Wouldn't it be nice? (3, Interesting)

mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953598)

If judges could pass summary judgment for civil damages in a case like this?

Or, better, when someone's released from a 20 year stint in prison after the DNA proves they didn't do it?

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953804)

Prosecutors have immunity. Even when they knowingly break the law when trying to prosecute.
If we want crap like this to end, there need to be standards to revoke that immunity; either on a case-by-case basis or a blanket repeal thereof.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (0)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954534)

Tim McVeigh revoked some immunity. Just sayin'.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955312)

Who in hell modded this up? Some guy gets a hard time from some prosecutor so now it's "revoking immunity" to kill 168 people (who had nothing to do with McVeigh's crazed gripe with the feds) including a bunch of kids? Here in Austin we had the nut who flew into the side of the building housing some IRS offices, killing some innocent guy there just doing his job. If you want the US to become a real police state just let a couple of more incidents like this occur. I'll take the police over deranged, self-important losers that think killing kids is some kind of "blow for freedom!"

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955580)

When citizens do it, it's called killing innocents. When governments do it, it's called collateral damage...

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957984)

"When citizens do it, it's called killing innocents. When governments do it, it's called keeping peace...
"
Fixed that for you.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955876)

I certainly do not even remotely approve of McVeigh's actions, but if we don't reign in power tripping prosecutors and others in the judicial system, we're likely to see a lot more people try some variant on his methods.

All the metal detectors and x-rays to enter a court building speaks volumes to me. They see the enemy in each and every citizen and treat us accordingly.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958472)

You think the metal detectors and x-ray scanners are at the entrances to court buildings because they think every citizen is an enemy? Did it occur to you it's perhaps because of the very real threats involved when a building is in the business of confining and pronouncing sentences upon a set of people which includes large numbers of vicious criminals with vicious criminal friends on the outside?

If you want to complain about "treating everyone like a criminal" bullshit, start with the Transportation "Safety" Administration.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36962482)

We somehow got by for the first 200 years without scanners and x-rays at the doors of the courthouse, even years after the technology became available. There has always been a pair of guards, which I presume was because of the reasons you mentioned.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 2 years ago | (#36961080)

I don't really look at your choices as the only two logical choices. Since the likelihood of a police state is getting higher day by day already, I prefer to take my chances on the one random nutjob. I think the odds are more in my favor that I'll be untouched by that route than giving us more cops and more government power.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955352)

I live in Oklahoma City, and heard the terrorist bomb explode, 17 miles away and it shook the ground I was standing on. 168 people were killed. That's twice as many as were killed in Norway last week. That bomb was built and set off by Nazis, and millions died to stop Nazism. It's impossible to relate how disgusted I am by that stupid comment.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954560)

Prosecutors have immunity. Even when they knowingly break the law when trying to prosecute. If we want crap like this to end, there need to be standards to revoke that immunity; either on a case-by-case basis or a blanket repeal thereof.

Can't the judge censure the offender? I thought judges could hand down fines and even jail time to attorneys who piss them off enough.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36968470)

Furthermore, what about the various state bar associations? Don't they have means for addressing egregious behavior of prosecutors, like in the case of the wrongly-accused Duke hockey team?

One area where they don't have immunity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36958974)

Prosecutors have immunity. Even when they knowingly break the law when trying to prosecute.
If we want crap like this to end, there need to be standards to revoke that immunity; either on a case-by-case basis or a blanket repeal thereof.

One area where they have no immunity is contempt of court. But to get slammed with that, the prosecutor would have to do something in the court that disrupts the proceedings and pisses off the judge badly enough.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (5, Informative)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953854)

I think the government is immune from most retaliations. The Supreme Court recently ruled that a state prosecutor could essentially act with impunity (see http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-571.pdf [supremecourt.gov] ), and the California Supreme Court upheld similar coverage by a 1992 anti-SLAPP statute (see http://www.yeelaw.com/1.pdf [yeelaw.com] ). Like it or not, these people are not to be crossed. Pity the poor fools who happen to get in their way.

Re:Wouldn't it be nice? (2)

freudigst (1778168) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957034)

Pity the citizens who choose to tolerate them...

Kiddy Porn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953632)

I'm surprised that they didn't plant some kiddy porn on the guys computer, just to make sure that he went down and was persecuted for the rest of his life !

Re:Kiddy Porn (3, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953648)

They either were not that smart, or not that corrupt. Take your pick.

The Judge says... (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953650)

I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your life...

... as it will probably be brief.

Re:The Judge says... (1)

Alyred (667815) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954146)

Taking a page from the Onion... I hope that you aren't suggesting that leaking classified material can get you assassinated by the government, because that's the kind of thing that can get you assassinated by the government...

Re:The Judge says... (0)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954526)

Taking a page from the Onion...

I hope that you aren't suggesting that leaking classified material can get you assassinated by the government, because that's the kind of thing that can get you assassinated by the government...

But doesn't that put you at risk for assassination too?

Re:The Judge says... (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957450)

I seem to recall reading a study that included some statistics that show an increased risk of assassination when you've been assassinated by the government.

not accused of leaking classified material. (5, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953658)

the charge against him was 5 counts of 'retaining information related to the national defense', Espionage Act 18 USC 793(e)

thats because there is no crime called 'leaking', never has been and probably never will be. it doesnt even have a set definition.

and its not illegal to give out classified material , only certain types of classified material in certain situations to certain people.

and Thomas Drake didnt give out any classified material - the judge even said basically this (the emails the DOJ said had classified material, well, they didnt).

Drake was actually an expert in handling classified material, he was an intelligence analyst for many years in the military and NSA. He specifically avoided giving out any classified info to the reporter.

thats one of the scariest things about the case. they decided a bunch of stuff they seized from him was 'classified', after they sezied it. and then they also even argued that material marked UNCLASSIFIED in big bold letters was really classified.

yes 'accused' is perhaps correct, in a technical sense, since the government's indictment said he did it. but when it came to actual criminal charges, there werent any, because there arent any laws about "leaking classified material".

because the biggest leakers? Congress and the President, going back all the way to Eisenhower, at least, and then even back farther, you can even find some of the founding fathers 'leaking' sensitive info. and none of them got 35 years in prison for it. (which is what the government wanted to do to Drake)

oh and nice article summary too (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953792)

forgot to mention that!!!! oops

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (2)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953810)

"This is information retrieval not information dispersal".

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954038)

because the biggest leakers? Congress and the President, going back all the way to Eisenhower, at least, and then even back farther, you can even find some of the founding fathers 'leaking' sensitive info. and none of them got 35 years in prison for it. (which is what the government wanted to do to Drake)

I would amend "the President" to "the executive branch", but essentially that's correct. I'm getting tired of news articles citing an unnameable, anonymous, or confidential source when the information leaked is being used to benefit the leaker and the leaker's employer or interests. Unfortunately that's a failure of the press when they don't investigate who benefits from a piece of information's public release, and that lets corrupt people continue to use the press for more corruption. Of course, the press benefit when readership or viewership goes up, so they're willing to do bad journalism in exchange for these tasty tidbits that really are out there to serve corruption rather than to expose it.

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954436)

What is truly disconcerting was that the Bush administration didn't really pursue this. It was only once Obama took office that Drake's nightmare began.

Glen Greenwald's analysis on this topic is quite interesting: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/30/whistleblowers/index.html [salon.com]

Yes its obama's fault (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954824)

I for one am glad Obama is taking horrible legal positions along the lines Bush did -- in some cases better because he is moving legally where Bush would delay treading. Its more likely for Obama to lose these cases and establish the law against this stuff than for some conservative judge to rubber stamp it. I do believe the liberal judges are less likely to distort their rulings in Obama's favor while I think they were more likely to do so for Bush.... however, since the corporations are at the heart of nearly everything it may not matter which party is doing what. I just hope Obama's people do a poor job; like how Bush purposely did a bad prosecution of that crook senator from Alaska. (known here for being "the internet is a bunch of pipes" senator.) One reason the case was so pathetic is they chucked most the "evidence" because they wanted to admit it as secret evidence only and that wasn't allowed -- something which Bush tried as well; what would have been better is if they could have had strong rulings AGAINST secret evidence that the legal system can't properly access (perhaps we have those already?)

Re:Yes its obama's fault (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955456)

With respect to the State Secrets Doctrine, Obama has been using that successfully to prevent court cases dealing with torture and the complicity of American companies (FN1). As for the State Secrets Doctrine getting overturned, it's hardly likely even now that we know for a fact that the Supreme Court case which cemented its position was based solely on a government lie to avoid paying compensation to some engineers who died in a plane crash (FN2) yet knowing this, has in no way has diminished its power.

FN1: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/09/08/obama [salon.com]

FN2: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/background-state-secrets-privilege [aclu.org]

Although the state secrets privilege has existed in some form since the early 19th century, its modern use, and the rules governing its invocation, derive from the landmark Supreme Court case United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1 (1953). In Reynolds, the widows of three civilians who died in the crash of a military plane in Georgia filed a wrongful death action against the government. In response to their request for the accident report, the government insisted that the report could not be disclosed because it contained information about secret military equipment that was being tested aboard the aircraft during the fatal flight. When the accident report was finally declassified in 2004, it contained no details whatsoever about secret equipment. The government's true motivation in asserting the state secrets privilege was to cover up its own negligence.

Re:Yes its obama's fault (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36959268)

however, since the corporations are at the heart of nearly everything it may not matter which party is doing what.

Now we're getting to the heart of things, aren't we?

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954458)

yes 'accused' is perhaps correct, in a technical sense, since the government's indictment said he did it.
but when it came to actual criminal charges, there werent any, because there arent any laws about "leaking classified material".

The criminal charges were dropped because the NSA didn't want to allow their classified information to be introduced into evidence.
http://www.wjla.com/articles/2011/06/plea-deal-for-thomas-drake-former-nsa-official-in-classified-leaks-case-62032.html [wjla.com]

Problems in bringing the case to trial stemmed from a decision by US. District Judge Richard Bennett rejecting the government's efforts to mask references to "NSA's targeting of a specific telecommunications technology" in six documents entered into evidence, according to a June 5 letter from prosecutors. As a result, the prosecution said, it was withdrawing four of them and would eliminate any reference to the technology in two others.

After that, the criminal charges could not be supported with the remaining evidence.

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955104)

Also very relevant is that it's fairly easy, parituclarly if you're an expert at handling classified information, to put together classified information from unclassified documents. I think the guy is guilty as hell, but the NSA was once again playing their hand close to their chest. The judge was, I believe, unreasonable, in preventing the government from prosecuting the case by denying them the ability to present evidence. And yes, there are legal firms with personnel and legal facilities authorized for handling classified information.

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36956978)

Which is completely misrepresenting the case. Of course the guy has published material. But publishing something does not make one guilty. Only if he broke a law, he can be considered guilty, and it's the job of the prosecution to prove the break. If the prosecution fails (for what reason ever), it's the prosecution's fault.
So we now can say: Whatever the guy published, the prosecution was unable to prove that he did it in a criminal manner. And if the judge tells the prosecutor that he, after causing much bruhaha and disturbing the defendant's life for four years failing to prove anything (even if it was because the government didn't want the documents in question go on public record), got it completely wrong, then the judge is fully right. It was much ado about nothing.

Re:not accused of leaking classified material. (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957302)

What exactly makes you think Drake did something wrong?

From what I've read about the case so far, it seems he pissed off some high people at the NSA by publicly criticising the Trailblazer project (or rather, its successor) for being ineffective, wasteful and unnecessarily invading people's privacy. The NSA subsequently raided his house to find work-related documents on his home computer, so they could accuse him of being careless with classified information. I.e, what the NSA indicted him for had nothing to do with what he did to piss them off. They were just trying to find something to pin on him. Drake wasn't indicted for "leaking" documents, only of keeping classified documents on his home computer.

The NSA had a hard time finding anything Drake had done wrong, so they employed some tortured logic in order to indict him, including claiming that the documents marked Declassified should have been classified and that Drake should have understood it. And now it turns out almost nothing of it held up in court.

This was not even about him actually breaking (1)

mark0978 (1052438) | more than 2 years ago | (#36964622)

the law. It was petty retribution for pointing out they were spying on all Americans and in the process wasting a Billion $ with a contractor that was incompetent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake [wikipedia.org] and http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer [newyorker.com]

Not Just the Government (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953660)

I sold a small company to a F500 firm and they later sued and we spent 5 years bickering while they attempted to run me out of business.

Eventually I found them stealing the equipment I make from our customers and suddenly they dropped the case.

That didn't get me back the $650,000 I spent on lawyers.

Just the way it is.

Re:Not Just the Government (3, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953714)

But not the way it should be...

Re:Not Just the Government (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953962)

They bought my company, fired many including me, and didn't pay. I sued. I won! I won what I'd lost, legal fees, and even damages... ...from a company that was killed in the dotcom crash a year earlier.

It took about ten years for my ass to stop hurting. I should frame that ol' stock certificate now for laughs.

Will the judge sanction the guilty? (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953866)

Will he direct another prosecutor to bring charges? If not, he's guilty as well, assuming the law doesn't preclude it.

'compared it to British Tyranny (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954000)

in the colonial era.'

Yes, much of the government's behavior of late is very reminiscent of British Tyranny in the colonial era. I seem to recall there was a very sharp, distinct response to it from Americans then. I wonder what the response will be now?

Sic semper tyrannis...

Re:'compared it to British Tyranny (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958040)

"I seem to recall there was a very sharp, distinct response to it from Americans then. I wonder what the response will be now?"

Not a damn thing. 98% of Americans are happy with their Cable TV and this makes them very complacent. Honestly we could invoke martial law and have tanks and soldiers in the streets asking for papers at checkpoints and 90% of Americans will tolerate it without a whimper.

50% will praise it. Especially if it's sold as "protecting freedom" bullshit they have been pulling since 9/11..

As Americans we gladly trade out freedoms for security. We are a very scared and frightened people. The people of this country are nothing like the people that were here in 1776. We are a faded shadow of those people. There ARE some real Americans out there that are pissed that we have been giving up our freedoms like candy, But they are outnumbered by the scared "protect me daddy gubment" types 20 to 1.

Disbarment (2)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954194)

File a complaint and try and have the prosecutor disbarred. Use the judges rebuke as evidence. File against all the lawyers on the prosecution side and at least one level above them in the chain of command.

It is extremely unlikely that they will be disbarred. The best outcome would be some form of censure, which could have an effect on their carer. Even so, having to go through the process of defending themselves from professional criticism will be some payback for "four years of hell that a citizen goes through", to quote the ruling. I doubt that the bar will do anything at all. Sadly, complaining to the bar is likely the only payback the victim will get.

Re:Disbarment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955140)

Nope, prosecutors are completely immune to anything like that. All you will do is piss them off.

Re:Disbarment (1)

agent_vee (1801664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955734)

Of course prosecutors can be disbarred! What's next, prosecutors are immune to death?

Re:Disbarment (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955950)

Actually, they're not. They are immune to criminal prosecution and individual civil suits, but the ABA need not honor that.

The prosecutor who went after the Duke Lacrosse players was disbarred as a result of his conduct as a prosecutor.

Re:Disbarment (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958058)

So we should Egg and TP his house instead?

Re:Disbarment (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955896)

He plead guilty. Doesn't matter that it was a misdemeanor completely unrelated to the original crime, in the eyes of the bar and the courts he's a guilty man. He's got no recourse.

Re:Disbarment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36957220)

That's total bullshit. Weather he pleaded guilty or not has nothing at all to do with the way his case was handled, which is what matters.

Re:Disbarment (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36957316)

Yeah, guilty to a small formal error. The NSA threw everything they could at him in retaliation for criticising them, and the only thing they could make stick was keeping a few insignificant documents he shouldn't have on his home computer (together with all the other work-related documents which he was allowed to have on it).

Re:Disbarment (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958076)

With enough time and bars of soap in socks I can make you plead guilty to most anything.

And the nice part is soap in a sock does not leave marks... and oh that camera there was offline at the time.

Hey, that's great! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954282)

A ludicrous government brought you 4 years of hell and dragged your name through the mud in ways that will probably never completely wash off.

But don't worry--a judge who didn't actually do anything got REALLY MAD about it. So you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

Re:Hey, that's great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954954)

Exactly.

This is the focus of the police, prosecutors and state. They dont have to prove your are guilty,
they just have to make your life hell. And they are paid to do it so they have plenty of time
and energy. You, on the other hand, have a life to live, money to earn, a social life to lead.

The next whistleblower is going to think twice before opening their mouth.

Bad Summary, Bad Article (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954566)

Having read the court's statement, the prosecutors were *not* blasted. The judge spoke very critically about the executive branch, but commended the prosecution for their professionalism. Poor reporting all around.

More like "Judge blasts government" (2)

tweir (27510) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954620)

The specific prosecutors were not rebuked, however the judge did have some very hash words for the executive branch.

I'd suggest reading the entire transcript of the court's decision, and drawing your own conclusions. By comparison, that article in the post is far less interesting to read.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/drake/071511-transcript.pdf [fas.org]

One very important point that the Judge made: he blames the government (executive branch) as a whole, not the specific prosecutors who handled the case in the latter stages:
-------
THE COURT: I have one more matter to address,
and Mr. Welch, I know I asked some tough questions of you,
I've had some tough comments for the executive branch of
government today, but I want the record to reflect that both
you and Mr. Pearson have conducted yourself with the height
of professionalism before me in any and all matters, and you
weren't known to the court before you arrived and I'm not
sure if you'll be back in this court because you're from
other jury jurisdiction, but I want to commend you for your
level of professionalism in all matters before the court,
both in public matters and some of the classified hearings
and I commend you for your professionalism. Sometimes it's
tough to be the messenger, Mr. Welch, when you have to try to
answer for the entire U.S. government. I wasn't casting
anything personally upon you, it was more directed at the
executive branch, and I commend you and Mr. Pearson for your
professionalism in this case.of professionalism before me in any and all matters, and you
Sometimes it's
tough to be the messenger, Mr. Welch, when you have to try to
answer for the entire U.S. government. I wasn't casting
anything personally upon you, it was more directed at the
executive branch, and I commend you and Mr. Pearson for your
professionalism in this case.
--------------

That is a direct quote from the transcript, pages 47-48

Fascinating Story (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955018)

The project this guy worked on dealt with the NSA data collection algorithms implemented to basically trap and filter damn near all the Internet traffic in the world. At one time this system was trapping the electronic equivalent of 6 Congressional Libraries every 6 hours and storing it on 1000's of servers located across the country. This guy complained that the data being collected included data from US sources which is precisely what the government said they would not do. The head engineer had even included a filter to prevent this from happening but NSA management order him to disable it and he quit to.

th1s fP for GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955208)

OpenBSD wa8ker Theo

About Time But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955848)

The Federal Prosecuters seem to presume that THEY can make up fruadulent charges at will and then walk away ...

NO!

Federal Prosecutes who engage in fruad must be held accountable ,,, erstwile KILLED.

Let the live action fron roof tops hunting of William M. Welch III begin.

May he enjoy his death.

--//++

Read it again; Welch wasn't the judge's target. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36956406)

Reading the court transcript, it's apparent the judge compliments both the defense and the prosecution. The judge's ire is for the executive department, he makes this clear several times; it's not against Mr Welch, who he praises for his professionalism.

The judge took issue with the 2 year gap between search & prosecution, but again, he doesn't lambast Mr. Welch; he berates the executive department. Welch only had the case for the last 6 months, as he states in the transcript.

Kobe rejette parle Besiktas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36957738)

Lakers Kobe Bryant, la superstar a rejeté les rapports d'une réunion le week-end avec Besiktas mais a déclaré qu'il était prÃt à "jouer n'importe oÃ" l'étranger alors que les pourparlers prolongés du travail NBA trébucher, air Jordan [nikejordan2012.com] le Washington Post a rapporté lundi. nike air max classic [risingtrading.com] Bryant a déclaré qu'il n'était pas au courant de spéculation qui a dit qu'il devait rencontrer des dirigeants de l'équipe turque à Washington, Louis Vuitton t-shirt [louvisvuitton-store.com] DC, alors qu'il était en ville pour assister à match de samedi l'exposition en tournée européenne de football entre Manchester et poids lourds Unis Barcelone.

Re:Kobe rejette parle Besiktas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36957744)

Lakers Kobe Bryant, la superstar a rejeté les rapports d'une réunion le week-end avec Besiktas mais a déclaré qu'il était prêt à "jouer n'importe où" l'étranger alors que les pourparlers prolongés du travail NBA trébucher, le Washington Post a rapporté lundi. Men's Belts Louis Vuitton Belt [louvisvuitton-store.com] pas cher shoes [louvisvuitton-store.com] Bryant a déclaré qu'il n'était pas au courant de spéculation qui a dit qu'il devait rencontrer des dirigeants de l'équipe turque à Washington, DC, alors qu'il était en ville pour assister à match de samedi l'exposition en tournée européenne de football entre Manchester et poids lourds Unis Barcelone. air Jordan [nikejordan2012.com] Nike Shox Turbo [nikejordan2012.com]

taxes (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#36958038)

this is where YOUR money is going

Sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36960484)

Judges ought to do their part to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecution in this country has become more a game of winning the case than about getting justice. They don't care if they guy's guilty, if they break a few laws prosecuting him, whether they've respected his rights under the constitution, or any of those trivialities, to these guys it's about winning. We need to curb that by imposing (personal) sanctions on prosecutors for their misconduct. I think that if it's found that a defendant's trial wasn't speedy enough due to prosecutorial misconduct, the prosecutor should be found either in contempt or have some sanction imposed on them. My girlfriend's grandfather who was a judge for 15 years, once recounted a story of sanctioning a lawyer by telling him that he would not be allowed to practice law until after he passes the bar exam again.

I think perhaps if prosecutors had more personal stakes in seeing that they don't violate people's rights and behave appropriately our justice system would be well served. I think they'd think twice about fishing expeditions

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