A former official at the National Security Agency faces charges for leaking classified information to a newspaper reporter, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Thomas Andrews Drake, 52, who worked at the NSA’s facility at Fort Meade, Md., was charged with willful retention of classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements. He was not charged directly for leaking the information. If convicted of all counts, he could face up to 35 years in prison.
The newspaper involved was not identified, but according to the indictment the stories in question were published between February 2006 and November 2007.
Drake had a close friendship with a congressional staffer who retired in May 2002, according to the indictment. That retired staffer put Drake in touch with a reporter for a national newspaper, and both set up secured e-mail accounts through the service Hushmail, a service that allowed Drake to store secured e-mails on servers in Canada.
According to the indictment, Drake shredded classified and unclassified documents that he had removed from NSA to conceal his relationship with the reporter and hide evidence from the FBI.
Drake started as a contractor assigned to the NSA in 1991 and was hired in 2001 as chief of an office at NSA’s facility at Fort Meade. He left that job in 2005. He later went on to teach at the National Defense University, where he continued to perform day-to-day work for the NSA.
The reporter allowed Drake to review drafts of the articles before they were published, according to the Justice Department.
NSA suspended Drake’s security clearance on Nov. 28, 2007, and Drake resigned on April 23, 2008, in lieu of being terminated, according to the indictment.
The New York Times reports that a reporter who fits the description of the person in the indictment is Siobhan Gorman, who now works for The Wall Street Journal. Her articles as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun examined the failings of several major NSA modernization programs as well as problems with supplying the agency’s electric power demands. Some of her articles were honored with a top prize from the Society for Professional Journalists, reports the Times.
The indictment is embedded below.