A Drone Whistleblower Goes to Prison

Too often, the government punishes citizens who reveal the state’s true behavior to their fellow Americans.

A federal judge in August sentenced Daniel Hale to 45 months in federal prison for informing the American public about secret drone killings by the U.S. military.

Hale is a former Air Force intelligence analyst who shared classified documents with reporter Jeremy Scahill. Those documents, published in 2015 at The Intercept and in a book called The Assassination Complex (Simon & Schuster), revealed that secret drone assassinations in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia had likely killed untold numbers of innocent people, a fact the U.S. government had concealed.

Hale’s leaks showed that drone assassinations under President Barack Obama were not what the American public believed them to be. The administration insisted that its secret “kill list” of terrorists was carefully vetted and that drone strikes were deployed only to kill targets the government and military believed it was not feasible to arrest.

The reality, Hale revealed, was that the targeted strikes regularly resulted in the deaths of bystanders. The government hid this fact by classifying anybody killed in a U.S. drone strike as a “militant,” even when he was not a target. This obfuscation allowed the government to insist it was minimizing civilian casualties.. – READ MORE