In a previously sealed indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia, unsealed today, former intelligence analyst Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee is charged with giving top secret U.S. defense documents and information to a reporter.
Scahill is a founder of the online news site The Intercept.
Hale was arrested this morning and will make his initial appearance today at the federal courthouse in Nashville.
The government alleges that the former U.S. Air Force airman Hale stole government secrets and gave them to a journalist while working at the National Security Agency and after, while employed as a government contractor.
Hale faces up to 50 years in federal prison if convicted.
Here’s what you need to know:
Hale Held a Top Secret Security Clearance ‘Entrusted’ With Classified National Defense Information
According to the indictment, Hale was in the U.S. Air Force beginning in July of 2009 until July of 2013. Hale received “language and intelligence training,” and was then assigned to work at the National Security Agency. He was deployed to Afghanistan and there worked as an intelligence analyst, according to federal prosecutors.
After leaving the U.S. Air Force in July 2013, Hale was employed by a defense contractor and assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. There Hale worked as a “political geography analyst between December 2013 and August 2014.”
Hale held “Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS//SCI) security clearance and was entrusted with access to classified national defense information,” while serving as an active duty airman and during his time with the NSA and the NGA.
Hale is charged with obtaining national defense information, retention and transmission of national defense information, causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
2. The Government Says Hale Began Meeting With the Journalist, Believed to be Scahill, in 2013
According to allegations in the indictment, beginning in April 2013, while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to the NSA, Hale began communicating with a journalist. He “met with the reporter in person on multiple occasions, and, at times, communicated with the reporter via an encrypted messaging platform,” prosecutors allege.
After his Air Force stint, Hale went on to work as a cleared defense contractor at NGA. In February of 2014, prosecutors say Hale “printed six classified documents unrelated to his work at NGA and soon after exchanged a series of messages with the reporter. Each of the six documents printed were later published by the reporter’s news outlet.”
3. Hale Used His ‘Top Secret’ Computer to Print Classified Documents & Provided ‘At Least 17’ Documents, Most Were Published. Prosecutors Say 11 Were Marked ‘Top Secret’
According to allegations in the indictment, while employed as a cleared defense contractor for NGA, Hale printed from his Top Secret computer 36 documents, including 23 documents unrelated to his work at NGA.
Of the 23 documents unrelated to his work at NGA, Hale provided at least 17 to the reporter and/or the reporter’s online news outlet, which published the documents in whole or in part. Eleven of the published documents were marked as Top Secret or Secret.
4. Hale Used Tor Software & Tails Operating System, As Suggested by the ‘Online News Outlet.’ Not Named in the Indictment, Reports Indicate the News Site Was Likely the ‘Intercept’ & the Journalist Jeremy Scahill
The two men met in 2013.
According to allegations in the indictment, in August 2014, Hale’s cell phone contact list included contact information for the reporter, and he possessed two thumb drives. One thumb drive contained a page marked “SECRET” from a classified document that Hale had printed in February 2014 and had attempted to delete from the thumb drive. The other thumb drive contained Tor software and the Tails operating system, which were recommended by the reporter’s online news outlet in an article published on its website regarding how to anonymously “leak” documents.
Two others have been charged with leaking classified documents to the Intercept including Reality Winner.
5. Scahill & The Intercept Published the ‘Drone Papers’ in 2015 & Prosecutors Claim Hale Supplied the Top Secret Documents Published as Part of the Piece
In October of 2015, The Intercept published “The Drone Papers,” a series by Scahill and others based on classified documents related to drone warfare. Scahill published “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program” in April 2016.
“The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars,” the subhead of the story reads.
A sweeping piece, written by Scahill and several other Intercept journalists, the main story is by Scahill, The Assassination Complex, which is based on the documents provided by Hale, allegedly. “The whistleblower who leaked the drone papers believes the public is entitled to know how people are placed on kill list and assassinated on orders from the president,” Scahill wrote.
The story would become Scahill’s book “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program.”
According to his bio, Scahill was a “war correspondent, and author of the international best-selling books, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield” and “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.” He has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere across the globe. Scahill has served as the national security correspondent for The Nation and Democracy Now!.”
Scahill was a producer and writer of the award-winning film “Dirty Wars,” which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award.