Thomas Andrews Drake, 55, is a former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, …and a whistleblower.
In 2010 the government alleged that he ‘mishandled’ documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to “plea bargain with the truth”. He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of “Civil Disobedience.”
“The critical thing that I discovered was not just the massive fraud, waste and abuse, but also the fact that NSA had chosen to ignore …the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, (established in l978) … the prime directive of NSA:
You do not spy on Americans without a warrant.
I found, much to my horror, … that it was the excuse of 9/11, exigent conditions now prevailed, we essentially can do anything. …We were going to turn the United States of America into the equivalent of a foreign nation for the purpose of a of dragnet, blanket electronic surveillance.” – Thomas Drake