Whistleblowing, Constitutional rights, civil liberties, secrecy, surveillance and abusive government power
Ideal Use: Programs on Whistleblowing, Constitutional rights, civil liberties, secrecy, surveillance and abusive government power
While at the NSA, Thomas Drake blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar programmatic fraud, waste and abuse, the critical loss and coverup of 9/11 intelligence and a dragnet electronic mass surveillance and data mining program conducted on a vast scale with the approval of the White House after 9/11.
Thomas Drake is a former senior executive with the National Security Agency (NSA) where he witnessed massive fraud, waste and abuse as well as a government secret surveillance program involving widespread violations of the 4th Amendment. Shortly after 9/11, Mr. Drake became aware of this massive breach of the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted in total secrecy by NSA with the approval of the White House and reported it to Congress.
While at NSA he became a material witness and whistleblower for two 9/11 congressional investigations and with a Department of Defense Office of Inspector General audit of a failed multi- billion dollar boondoggle flagship program called Trailblazer and an alternative program called Thinthread. However, Thinthread was a revolutionary and breakthrough system already developed for several million dollars, involving the very best of American innovation and ingenuity, while also protecting privacy rights and providing superior intelligence in the Digital Age. NSA rejected Thinthread with an incalculable loss of intelligence and privacy. Instead, NSA engaged in illegal electronic surveillance and data mining conducted on a vast scale within the US, combined with huge losses in intelligence capability and capacity that fundamentally weakened national security and eroded our precious liberties.
Suspicioning that Mr. Drake had disclosed classified information regarding the secret domestic surveillance program, the NSA through the Department of Justice began targeting him as part of a multi-million dollar, multi-year federal criminal national security “leak” investigation launched in December of 2005 and he was raided by the FBI in November of 2007.
In April of 2008 the chief prosecutor threatened him with spending the rest of his life in prison if he did not cooperate with the government’s investigation. As retaliation and reprisal, the Justice Department under the Obama Administration prosecuted and indicted Mr. Drake in April of 2010 using the WWI- era Espionage Act (designed to go after spies and not whistleblowers) on ten felony counts and facing up to 35 years in prison. In June 2011 a plea agreement to a minor misdemeanor was reached with the government on the eve of trial, and all 10 felony counts against Mr. Drake were dropped after the government’s criminal case against him collapsed under the weight of truth.
The extraordinary charges brought against him as an American exposing government waste, fraud, wrongdoing and illegalities are symptomatic of the rising power of the national security state since 9/11 and its direct assaults on freedom of speech (including speaking truth to power), association, thought, innovation, and privacy. Mr. Drake was turned into an enemy of the state. His case was highlighted by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker and by Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes.
During Drake’s sentencing hearing in July 2011, the presiding judge said of the government (in its treatment of Mr. Drake) “I find…unconscionable. It is at the very root of what this country was founded on…It was one of the most fundamental things in the Bill of Rights, that this country was not to be exposed to people knocking on the door with government authority and coming into their homes…..It is four years of hell that a citizen has gone through. It was not proper. It does not pass the smell test.”
In partnership with Jesselyn Radack (the National Security and Human Rights Director at the Government Accountability Project), Mr. Drake writes, speaks and teaches on whistleblowing, Constitutional rights, the 1st and 4th Amendment, civil liberties, secrecy, surveillance and abusive government power. He is the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize, and a joint recipient with Ms. Radack of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. He is dedicated to the defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those booking should be aware Mr. Drake often teams up with Ms. Radack for speaking engagements and that media bias critic Norman Solomon has offered to be part of a three speaker panel at no additional charge.