Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Thomas Drake


As a senior official at the National Security Agency Thomas Drake witnessed not only widespread waste, fraud, and abuse, but also gross violations of our 4th Amendment rights.

He was a material witness and whistleblower on a multi-year Department of Defense Inspector General audit of a failed multi-billion dollar flagship program called TRAILBLAZER and a breakthrough multi-million dollar intelligence data collection, processing, and analysis system called THINTHREAD that was ready to deploy.

THINTHREAD had been carefully designed to handle data in massive amounts and variety, but to do so with built-in 4th Amendment and privacy safeguards, while providing superior intelligence. NSA rejected it.

Tom Drake stepped forward with the integrity, the courage, and — let’s say it, the true patriotism — to blow the whistle. The Department of Justice retaliated by indicting and prosecuting Drake under the Espionage Act and, once again, became the laughing stock of the legal profession.

In Drake’s case, government attempts to abuse the law to intimidate those who would speak truth to power expose in a telling way what has become the military-industrial-intelligence-surveillance-cybersecurity-congressional-media complex and its abuses, which drain our treasury, endanger our liberty, and make our country less — not more — secure.

Sam Adams Associates is not the first group to give high recognition to Tom Drake’s fearless integrity and endurance in the ordeal he was put through. Earlier this year he was awarded the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize.

In partnership with Jesselyn Radack he writes and speaks on whistle blowing, privacy, civil liberties, secrecy, surveillance and abusive government power.

Presented this 21st day of November 2011 in Washington, DC, by admirers of the example set by former CIA analyst, Sam Adams.

Related Articles

Former CIA Analyst Sues Defense Department to Vindicate NSA Whistleblowers

By Jenna McLaughlin, Feb 10, 2017, at The Intercept

IN 2010, THOMAS DRAKE, a former senior employee at the National Security Agency, was charged with espionage for speaking to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun about a bloated, dysfunctional intelligence program he believed would violate Americans’ privacy. The case against him eventually fell apart, and he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor, but his career in the NSA was over.

Though Drake was largely vindicated, the central question he raised about technology and privacy has never been resolved. Almost seven years have passed now, but Pat Eddington, a former CIA analyst, is still trying to prove that Drake was right.

While working for Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., Eddington had the unique opportunity to comb through still-classified documents that outline the history of two competing NSA programs known as ThinThread and Trailblazer. He’s seen an unredacted version of the Pentagon inspector general’s 2004 audit of the NSA’s failures during that time, and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests.


How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers

Long before Edward Snowden went public, John Crane was a top Pentagon official fighting to protect NSA whistleblowers. Instead their lives were ruined – and so was his.
Snowden calls for whistleblower shield after claims by Pentagon source.

Exclusive: Pentagon source goes on record against whistleblower program

by Mark Hertsgaard

(Read full article at The Guardian)

Compare And Contrast: Treatment Of Thomas Drake & Hillary Clinton For Having Classified Info

from the double-standards dept

The Washington Post has a big story delving deep into how the Hillary Clinton email scandal happened, noting that Clinton just didn’t want to give up her BlackBerry, even as the NSA told her repeatedly that it wasn’t secure and there were serious risks involved. What’s amazing, from the story, is how much everyone was focused on the BlackBerry side of things, and sort of skipped over the fact that she was using a private email account with the server set up in her basement. The WaPo article notes that for the first few months in her job as Secretary of State, the email server didn’t even have basic encryption tools enabled. All of that is a travesty, and you should read the whole article to understand the issue more, but I wanted to focus in on a related issue: the high court/low court treatment of Hillary Clinton as compared to others. In particular, the situation with Thomas Drake, the NSA whistleblower.

Almost five years ago, we wrote about the Thomas Drake case, highlighting some key passages in an astoundingly thorough New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer, which ripped the government’s case to shreds. That long article is also worth reading, but for this story, the key points are that Drake was getting on some people’s nerves by complaining about the decisions the NSA was making in the wake of 9/11 — moving towards using an expensive computer system that would suck up everyone’s data, while he and others had worked on a much more cost-efficient system that would get better results and had built-in protections for civil liberties. Drake blew the whistle and provided information to a Congressional oversight staffer.

(Full article at Tech Dirt.)

The Courage from Whistle-blowing

Exclusive: Courage, like cowardice, can grow when an action by one person influences decisions by others, either toward bravery or fear. Thus, the gutsy whistle-blowing by some NSA officials inspired Edward Snowden to expose mass data collection on all Americans, recalls ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

When Edward Snowden in early June 2013 began to reveal classified data showing criminal collect-it-all surveillance programs operated by the U.S. government’s National Security Agency, former NSA professionals became freer to spell out the liberties taken with the Bill of Rights, as well as the feckless, counterproductive nature of bulk electronic data collection.

On Jan. 7, 2014, four senior retired specialists with a cumulative total of 144 years of work with NSA – William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe – prepared a Memorandum for the President providing a comprehensive account of the problems at NSA, together with suggestions as to how they might be best addressed.

The purpose was to inform President Obama as fully as possible, as he prepared to take action in light of Snowden’s revelations.

On Jan. 23, 2015 in Berlin, Binney was honored with the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. Ed Snowden was live-streamed-in for the occasion, and said, “Without Bill Binney there would be no Ed Snowden.” (Binney had been among the first to speak out publicly about NSA abuses; apparently that emboldened Snowden to do what he did.)

Snowden had already said when he fled to Hong Kong in June 2013 that he had learned an extremely important lesson from the four years of government persecution/prosecution of Tom Drake; namely, that he, Ed Snowden, had to leave the country in order to fulfill his mission – and to have some reasonable chance to avoid spending the rest of his life behind bars. (Eventually, all the felony charges against Drake were dismissed.)

An important take-away lesson from Binney’s and Drake’s boldness and tenacity is that one never knows what impetus courageous truth-tellers can give to other, potential whistleblowers – like Ed Snowden.

(full article here)

NSA Scandal: Code Red – Why Privacy?

In this video acTVism Munich brings into light what privacy means for the indivdual and society, i.e, why it is an essential ingredient for democracy & economy. Following high-profile whistleblowers provide their views on the issue of privacy in this video:

William Binney: Former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) turned whistleblower who resigned on October 31, 2001, after more than 30 years with the agency.

Thomas Andrews Drake: Former senior executive of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, and a whistleblower.

Annie Machon: Former MI5 intelligence officer who left the Service at the same time as David Shayler, her partner at the time, to help him blow the whistle about alleged criminality within the intelligence agencies.

Simon Davies: A privacy advocate and academic based in London UK. He was one of the first campaigners in the field of international privacy advocacy, founding the watchdog organization Privacy International in 1990 and subsequently working in emerging areas of privacy such as electronic visual surveillance, identity systems, border security, encryption policy and biometrics.

Elizabeth Murray: Served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Caroline Hunt: A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) whistleblower.

In late 2014, a group of the world’s most renowned privacy activists, whistleblowers, technologists and legal experts joined forces to work on the development of a global initiative to fight surveillance.

Led by privacy veteran Simon Davies and former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon, the project has developed into the Code Red initiative. Its aim is to create the next evolutionary step in the growing movement to curb excessive government power.

The project will build bridges between the technology, media, legal and policy worlds and will become a strategic hub for the many activists working in this arena. Code Red will also create a clearing house for information in the anti-surveillance movement and will support whistleblowers and sources.

For more visit: and