CommunityThe Dissenter

Pentagon Inspector General Ignored & Rejected NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake’s Claims of Retaliation

Thomas Drake

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has learned that the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office has rejected his whistleblower retaliation complaint, which he filed after the Justice Department’s prosecution against him collapsed.

As part of the Pentagon IG office’s audit, Drake provided details about waste and civil liberties abuses related to a program called TRAILBLAZER. He alleged in his complaint that he was spied upon by NSA management as he participated in this audit as a material witness. When he grew upset with the failure of the NSA to address problems, he decided to contact a Baltimore Sun reporter and reveal details related to the corruption.

The complaint he submitted to the IG’s office comprehensively detailed nearly ten years of retaliation by the agency for his whistleblowing. But, for no legal or statutory reason, the investigation into whistleblower retaliation only focused on five months and ignored a vast amount of other allegations made against the agency.

McClatchy Newspapers reporter Marisa Taylor, who reported on the rejection of Drake’s complaint, also reported that officials in the Pentagon IG’s office have been “forced to blow the whistle on their own office.” “Multiple former and current officials from the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office have alleged to the Office of Special Counsel, the independent government agency that investigates whistleblower claims, that they’ve been retaliated against for objecting to how cases are handled. Drake’s case is one of several singled out for criticism,” Taylor reported.

Drake was “stunned but not surprised to finally see official confirmation” that the Pentagon IG sold him out.

“I am disappointed that a very dense, years-long whistleblower reprisal complaint resulted in a shoddy seven-page Report of Investigation limited to a 5 month segment of a decade-plus long ordeal,” Drake stated.

“Even after getting burned by the system, I attempted to use proper channels for reporting reprisal against me, which included criminal prosecution” where the government painted me as an “Enemy of the State.”

The Justice Department charged him with violating the Espionage Act, but eventually, after media attention to his case, backed off and accepted a plea deal where Drake pled guilty to a misdemeanor of misuse of a government computer.

McClatchy Newspapers obtained a copy of a summary of the Pentagon IG’s investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request. It was dated March 19, 2014, but the office had not bothered to share a copy with Drake’s attorneys.

The summary mostly focuses on how Drake had his security clearance revoked after he became a person of interest in 2007 and was the subject of an FBI investigation for unauthorized disclosures to the press. To an extent, that makes it seem like Drake is wholly unreasonable to have complained. Obviously, it is common procedure in government to revoke security clearances if someone is under criminal investigation for a leak.

Essentially, the summary could be used to help the NSA argue Drake has a martyr complex and did not really face the kind of retaliation people say he endured when celebrating him as a whistleblower.

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Drake with the Government Accountability Project, said the NSA had shuffled Drake around and cut him off from people in the agency. It was the “death by 1000 paper cuts stuff that goes on in a bureaucracy” before they finally bring the hammer down on someone.

“There isn’t a statute of limitations,” Radack emphasized. “All they said was it was impractical to investigate allegations from other periods of time, which is just the same thing they said with regards to claims” made by NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe.

The allegations of spying on him, including monitoring his emails to IG auditors, were made because of the way the audit was done. Instead of having Drake come to Washington, DC, to their office, they set up an IG office on NSA’s campus. Any time someone entered, they had to use their badge to enter, which enabled monitoring of employees participating in the audit.

The audit took place from 2002 until the end of 2005.

Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Pentagon IG found that the disclosures made as part of the audit were protected disclosures. However, that finding is made insignificant by the finding that he was not retaliated against because of the disclosures.

It is rather unbelievable that those involved in revoking his security clearance, placing him on administrative leave and making other administrative personnel decisions would not have known about his whistleblowing to the Pentagon IG.

Plus, the Pentagon IG destroyed records related to the investigation against Drake. From the McClatchy story:

“No one knows what was in the material,” said a person with knowledge of the matter. “It might have been exculpatory. What is known is IG officials obscured the fact that such evidence might have been destroyed improperly.”
“You could have a situation where the federal prosecutor was in good faith going forward with information from the IG that could have been challenged in regard to its veracity,” the person said.

“They were on notice due to the New York Times warrantless wiretapping investigation that they originally thought Tom was a source for, even though he wasn’t. They were on notice that first of all these were matters of extremely high public interest,” Radack added. Yet, they destroyed records that were going to be part of potential litigation.

As for the fact that people in the office, which is supposed to investigate whistleblowers, are now blowing the whistle themselves, Radack declared, “It’s that messed up. It’s that dysfunctional that two people from the office are filing their own whistleblower complaints, specifically malfeasance—including malfeasance in the case of Thomas Drake.”

The Government Accountability Project is representing these two people, who at the moment remain anonymous.

Photo by Stephen D. Melkisethian

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

Pentagon Inspector General Ignored & Rejected NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake’s Claims of Retaliation

Thomas Drake

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has learned that the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office has rejected his whistleblower retaliation complaint, which he filed after the Justice Department’s prosecution against him collapsed.

As part of the Pentagon IG office’s audit, Drake provided details about waste and civil liberties abuses related to a program called TRAILBLAZER. He alleged in his complaint that he was spied upon by NSA management as he participated in this audit as a material witness. When he grew upset with the failure of the NSA to address problems, he decided to contact a Baltimore Sun reporter and reveal details related to the corruption.

The complaint he submitted to the IG’s office comprehensively detailed nearly ten years of retaliation by the agency for his whistleblowing. But, for no legal or statutory reason, the investigation into whistleblower retaliation only focused on five months and ignored a vast amount of other allegations made against the agency.

McClatchy Newspapers reporter Marisa Taylor, who reported on the rejection of Drake’s complaint, also reported that officials in the Pentagon IG’s office have been “forced to blow the whistle on their own office.” “Multiple former and current officials from the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office have alleged to the Office of Special Counsel, the independent government agency that investigates whistleblower claims, that they’ve been retaliated against for objecting to how cases are handled. Drake’s case is one of several singled out for criticism,” Taylor reported.

Drake was “stunned but not surprised to finally see official confirmation” that the Pentagon IG sold him out.

“I am disappointed that a very dense, years-long whistleblower reprisal complaint resulted in a shoddy seven-page Report of Investigation limited to a 5 month segment of a decade-plus long ordeal,” Drake stated.

“Even after getting burned by the system, I attempted to use proper channels for reporting reprisal against me, which included criminal prosecution” where the government painted me as an “Enemy of the State.”

The Justice Department charged him with violating the Espionage Act, but eventually, after media attention to his case, backed off and accepted a plea deal where Drake pled guilty to a misdemeanor of misuse of a government computer.

McClatchy Newspapers obtained a copy of a summary of the Pentagon IG’s investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request. It was dated March 19, 2014, but the office had not bothered to share a copy with Drake’s attorneys.

The summary mostly focuses on how Drake had his security clearance revoked after he became a person of interest in 2007 and was the subject of an FBI investigation for unauthorized disclosures to the press. To an extent, that makes it seem like Drake is wholly unreasonable to have complained. Obviously, it is common procedure in government to revoke security clearances if someone is under criminal investigation for a leak.

Essentially, the summary could be used to help the NSA argue Drake has a martyr complex and did not really face the kind of retaliation people say he endured when celebrating him as a whistleblower.

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Drake with the Government Accountability Project, said the NSA had shuffled him around and cut him off from people in the agency. It was the “death by 1000 paper cuts stuff that goes on in a bureaucracy” before they finally bring the hammer down on someone.

“There isn’t a statute of limitations,” Radack emphasized. “All they said was it was impractical to investigate allegations from other periods of time, which is just the same thing they said with regards to claims” made by NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe.

The allegations of spying on him, including monitoring his emails to IG auditors, were made because of the way the audit was done. Instead of having Drake come to Washington, DC, to their office, they set up an IG office on NSA’s campus. Any time someone entered, they had to use their badge to enter, which enabled monitoring of employees participating in the audit.

The audit took place from 2002 until the end of 2005.

Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Pentagon IG found that the disclosures made as part of the audit were protected disclosures. However, that finding is made insignificant by the finding that he was not retaliated against because of the disclosures.

It is rather unbelievable that those involved in revoking his security clearance, placing him on administrative leave and making other administrative personnel decisions would not have known about his whistleblowing to the Pentagon IG.

Plus, the Pentagon IG destroyed records related to the investigation against Drake. From the McClatchy story:

“No one knows what was in the material,” said a person with knowledge of the matter. “It might have been exculpatory. What is known is IG officials obscured the fact that such evidence might have been destroyed improperly.”
“You could have a situation where the federal prosecutor was in good faith going forward with information from the IG that could have been challenged in regard to its veracity,” the person said.

“They were on notice due to the New York Times warrantless wiretapping investigation that they originally thought Tom was a source for, even though he wasn’t. They were on notice that first of all these were matters of extremely high public interest,” Radack added. Yet, they destroyed records that were going to be part of potential litigation.

As for the fact that people in the office, which is supposed to investigate whistleblowers, are now blowing the whistle themselves, Radack declared, “It’s that messed up. It’s that dysfunctional that two people from the office are filing their own whistleblower complaints, specifically malfeasance—including malfeasance in the case of Thomas Drake.”

The Government Accountability Project is representing these two people, who at the moment remain anonymous.

Photo by Stephen D. Melkisethian

Previous post

The Roundup

Next post

Politico Sidelines Labor Reporter After Union Drive

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."