Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is asking President Biden to pardon a former Air Force intelligence analyst who exposed secrets about drone warfare in Afghanistan.
In court, Hale said he felt compelled to speak out about the immorality of the drone program after realizing he had helped kill Afghan civilians, including a small child.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions,” he wrote to the judge. “I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself.”
One document he leaked showed that during a five-month operation in Afghanistan, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were not the intended targets.
“I take extremely seriously the prohibition on leaking classified information, but I believe there are several aspects of Mr. Hale’s case that merit a full pardon,” Omar wrote in the letter sent to Biden on Thursday morning. “The information, while politically embarrassing to some, has shone a vital light on the legal and moral problems of the drone program and informed the public debate on an issue that has for too many years remained in the shadows.”
Omar has also demanded more information from the Biden administration about a recent airstrike in Somalia, where she was born.
She called Hale’s letter to the court “profoundly moral” and urged Biden to consider either a full pardon or commutation of his sentence.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning. The U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, which handled Hale’s prosecution, declined to comment.
Prosecutors said Hale could have endangered Americans with his leaks, noting that some of the details were reproduced in Islamic State publications. Hale, they said, recklessly shared reams of sensitive information when he could have simply spoken out in opposition to drone warfare. But no U.S. agency reported any harm caused by the revelations.
This week, Hale was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, given by a group of whistleblowers from the national security community. Edward Snowden received the same award in 2013.
Biden has pulled U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, calling the war “a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States.” But his administration has planned to continue drone operations from nearby countries.
WHISTLEBLOWER DANIEL HALE HONORED WITH SAM ADAMS AWARD FOR INTEGRITY IN
The Sam Adams
Associates are pleased to announce drone warfare whistleblower Daniel Hale as
the recipient of the 2021 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. Hale — a former Air Force intelligence
analyst in the drone program — was a defense contractor in 2013 when conscience
compelled him to release classified documents to the press exposing the
criminality of the US targeted assassination program [“We kill people based on
metadata” — Michael Hayden, former Director of CIA & NSA].
The leaked documents — published in The
Intercept on October 15, 2015 — revealed that from January 2012
to February 2013, US special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people.
Of the dead, only 35 were the intended targets. For one five-month period of
the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people
killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The innocent civilians —
who were often bystanders — were routinely categorized as “enemies killed in
On March 31, 2021 Hale pled guilty to a single count under the
Espionage Act, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years. In July 2021, he was sentenced to 45 months
in prison for revealing evidence of US war crimes. In a hand-written letter to Judge Liam
O’Grady Hale explained that the drone attacks and the war in Afghanistan had
“little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a
lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and
so-called defense contractors.”
also cited a 1995 statement byformer US Navy Admiral Gene LaRocque: “We
now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of
miles away … since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse … and
then we come home in triumph.”
During his military service from
2009 to 2013, Daniel Hale participated in the US drone program, working with
the NSA and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Task Force) at Bagram Air Base in
Afghanistan. After leaving the Air Force, Hale became an outspoken opponent of
the US targeted killing program, US foreign policy in general, and a supporter
of whistleblowers. He spoke out at conferences, forums, and public panels. He
was featured prominently in the award-winning documentary National
Bird, a film about whistleblowers in the US drone program who suffer
from moral injury and PTSD.
Adams Associates wish to salute the courage of Daniel Hale in performing a
vital public service at great personal cost — imprisonment for
truth-telling. We urge an end to the War
on Whistleblowers and remind government leaders that secrecy classification
systems were never intended to cover up government crimes. To that end, the
public’s right to know about their government’s wrongful actions — including
the adverse consequences of policies carried out in their name — must be
respected and preserved.
Mr. Hale is the 20th awardee of the
Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. His distinguished colleagues
include Julian Assange and Craig Murray, both of whom are also unjustly
incarcerated for truth-telling. Other
fellow Sam Adams Award alumnae include NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake; FBI 9-11
whistleblower Coleen Rowley; and GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun, whose story
was recounted in the film “Official Secrets.”
The full roster of Sam Adams awardees is available at samadamsaward.ch.
Details about the upcoming Sam Adams
Award ceremony will be announced soon.
The 2021 Sam Adams Award was presented in London to MI5 whistleblower Annie Machon. At the ceremony, Russian scholar Stephen Cohen was honored. Watch the ceremony and read the citations here. Posted March 21, 2021 on Consortiumnews.com.
The award was presented to Annie Machon and the following citations were read out (texts below) in London at the World Ethical Data Forum on Wednesday night.
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence
Know all ye by these presents that Annie Machon is hereby honored with the traditional Sam Adams Corner-Brightener Candlestick Holder, in symbolic recognition of her courage in shining light into dark places.
“If you see something, say something.” Long before that saying came into vogue, Annie Machon took its essence to heart.
MI5, the British domestic intelligence agency, recognized how bright, enterprising, and unflappable Annie was and recruited her as soon as she completed her studies at Cambridge.
The good old boys in MI5 apparently thought she would have a malleable conscience, as well — such that she would have no qualms about secret monitoring of the very government officials overseeing MI5 itself, for example.
Annie would not be quiet about this secret abuse. Her partner, David Shayler, an MI5 colleague and — like Annie — a person of integrity and respect for law, became aware of an MI6 plan to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
They decided to blow the whistle and fled to France. (Many years later, a woman of high station but more flexible integrity openly gloated over Gaddafi’s brutal assassination.)
After three years on the lam, hiding mostly in France, they returned to the UK, where Annie was arrested (but never charged with a crime). The powers-that-be, however, chose to make an example of Shayler (not unlike what they are now doing to Julian Assange).
Shayler’s whistleblowing case dragged on for seven years, during which he did a brief stint in the infamous high-security prison where Julian Assange still rots (having been denied bail, yet again). A strong mitigation plea by Annie helped reduce Shayler’s remaining prison time. All in all, though, what he was forced to endure took a hard toll on him.
More broadly, the issues that surfaced around whistleblowing at the time remain largely the same two decades later. Annie Machon has been a very prominent and strong supporter of Julian. She has also been a much admired mentor to less experienced women and men as they seek to become better informed on issues of integrity and courage, and take Annie up on her offer to “help them meet interesting people”, as she puts it.
We would be remiss today were we not to call to mind the courageous example of our first two awardees, Coleen Rowley (FBI) and Katharine Gun (GCHQ), who took great risks in exposing malfeasance and in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And, as Julian Assange did when he won this award, we again honor his treasured source, Chelsea Manning, for her continuing courage and scarcely believable integrity.
Ed Snowden, our Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.”
Annie is still acting, as one can see as this World Ethical Data Forum unfolds.
Presented this 17th day of March at the World Ethical Data Forum by admirers of the example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams.
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity
Stephen F. Cohen
Know all ye by these presents that Sam Adams Associates honors Professor Stephen F. Cohen with a posthumous tribute for his exemplary scholarship, integrity, and courage.
Stephen Cohen is still with us — in the hearts of those who knew him and try to emulate his courage. The word comes from cor – Latin for heart. It means “to speak one’s mind AND heart”. Aristotle saw courage as the sine qua non for all other virtue. In plain-speak, it doesn’t matter how much you know, if you lack courage.
Steve knew a lot about Russia. But at his courageous core, he was also a Mensch — influencing hearts as well as minds — whether the hearts of kids playing schoolyard basketball on the Upper West Side, or the hearts of presidents in Washington and Moscow. And it was Steve’s courageous commitment to historical truth that set him apart from self-styled specialists on Russia bowing to prevailing Russophobic winds.
Though Steve often was an outlier, his scholarship and advice were valued by top U.S. and Russian leaders alike. Three weeks after the Berlin Wall fell, Steve and his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel were with President George H. W. Bush at the summit in Malta at which Bush reassured Mikhail Gorbachev that the U.S. would not take advantage of the ferment in Eastern Europe. Under Bush’s successors NATO crept east — right up to Russia’s border, despite George Kennan’s warning that this “would restore the atmosphere of the cold war”.
Ever the historian, Steve put both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin in context, showing that Putin assumed power in a country on the verge of collapse, Yeltsin having allowed the plundering of Russia’s wealth. After the February 2014 coup on Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine, Steve quickly explained — with a candor unwelcome in Washington — why Russiareacted the way it did. Steve was “controversialized” and put in “Putin’s pocket”.
We veteran Russia-watchers took encouragement in knowing that Steve’s analysis was congruent with our own. Particularly welcome was the seal of approval given by Steve and Katrina to a newly coined acronym enumerating the main forces behind the campaign to portray Russia as enemy: MICIMATT — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex.
Fortunately, Steve did not have to resort to samizdat. He had a close friend at a highly respected periodical — one known for its hospitality to serious scholarship and to views shunned elsewhere. The Nation. Our deepest thanks go out to its publisher, who faced into the prevailing winds and gave Steve a platform for his uniquely astute views on Russia, the country he and Katrina had come to know so well.
Presented this 17th day of March 2021 at the World Ethical Data Forum by admirers of the courageous example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams.694
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, together with others who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence community or related professions who exemplifies Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth – no matter the consequences. Read more about the history here.
The annual Sam Adams Award has been given in previous years to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance, former US Army Sgt; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks: Thomas Drake, of NSA; Jesselyn Radack, formerly of Dept. of Justice and now National Security Director of Government Accountability Project; Thomas Fingar, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and Director, National Intelligence Council, and Edward Snowden, former contractor for the National Security Agency; Chelsea Manning, US Army Private who exposed (via WikiLeaks) key information on Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as State Department activities; and to retired National Security Agency official William Binney, who challenged decisions to ignore the Fourth Amendment in the government’s massive — and wasteful — collection of electronic data.