Minnesota Democrat writes letter to Biden on Daniel Hale’s behalf.
Star Tribune,August 26, 2021 — 5:47pm
WASHINGTON – Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is publicly pushing President Joe Biden to pardon a former Air Force intelligence analyst after the man pleaded guilty earlier this year to leaking classified information to a journalist.
In a letter this week, Omar wrote to Biden in an effort “to strongly encourage” the Democratic president’s help in the situation facing Daniel Hale, whom Omar described as “one of the most outspoken critics of the drone program in which he had participated.”
Hale served for a time as an intelligence analyst in Afghanistan before later going to work for a defense contractor from December 2013 to August 2014, according to a statement of facts in his legal case. The indictment in Hale’s case alleged that he provided classified documents to a reporter of an unnamed online news publication after Hale obtained them during the period of time he was working for the defense contractor.
In May 2019, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Hale had been “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.”
After pleading guilty in March to one count against him that involved violating the Espionage Act, Hale was sentenced last month by a judge to 45 months in prison. The other four counts against him were dismissed.
“As an analyst for the Intelligence Community, Daniel Hale knowingly took highly classified documents and disclosed them without authorization, thereby violating his solemn obligations to our country. We are firmly committed to seeking equal justice under the law and holding accountable those who betray their oath to safeguard national security information,” Raj Parekh, who serves as the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a March statement.
In her letter, Omar wrote that she takes “extremely seriously the prohibition on leaking classified information.” But she also stated that “the investigation of Mr. Hale’s leaks began under the Obama Administration,” before pointing to Hale not being indicted until former President Donald Trump was in office. Omar said she believes “that the decision to prosecute Mr. Hale was motivated, at least in part, as a threat to other would-be whistleblowers.”
She added that in Hale’s case, “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.” In her letter to Biden, Omar also referred to Hale’s guilty plea and his letter to a judge about the violence and impact of drone strikes, his life and decisions.
“The legal question of Mr. Hale’s guilt is settled, but the moral question remains open,” Omar wrote in the letter. “I strongly believe that a full pardon, or at least a commutation of his sentence, is warranted.”
A spokesperson for the White House referred a request for comment to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond Thursday.
Omar’s letter comes as Biden faces controversy and pushback for how the United States is dealing with the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan after years of war.
Hunter Woodall • 612-673-4559