It's too late to change anything related to the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution, which fell apart earlier this month. But it is further vindication for Thomas Drake, the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who had faced five counts of violating the Espionage Act for having unauthorized possession of "national defense information." In the end, Drake ended up pleading to a misdemeanor charge of exceeding the authorized use of a computer.
Many of Drake's allegations of waste and ineffectiveness in an intelligence program at the NSA were backed up in a Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) report, which POGO received today. The report is dated December 15, 2004, and has not been previously been made public in any form until today.
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.”
POGO obtained a copy of the DoD IG report through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ's) 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 an 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.
Nick Schwellenbach is POGO's Director of Investigations.
Portrait of Tom Drake by Robert Shetterly.