Daniel Hale Wiki – Daniel Hale Biography
Daniel Hale is a former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, who is sentenced to prison for leaking drone strike info.
Former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret information on the U.S. government’s drone strike program. Hale was arrested in 2019 and charged under the Espionage Act.
He pleaded guilty in March. Federal prosecutors argued that his actions aided enemies of the U.S. but his defense team argued it didn’t result in any substantial harm to national security.
His age is unclear.
A U.S. Predator drone fired a missile at the speeding car, but it missed by several feet. The car eventually stopped. The man got out and checked himself, and then a woman emerged. She started to pull something out of the car frantically. But Hale could not see what it was because the drone he watched the scene diverted its camera.
A couple of days later, Hale’s commanding officer told him the woman was the suspect’s wife, and in the back of the car were their two daughters, ages 5 and 3. Afghan soldiers had discovered the girls in a nearby dumpster. The 5-year-old was dead from shrapnel in her body, and the younger girl was alive but severely dehydrated.
Calling it the “most harrowing day of my life,” Hale described the episode in a handwritten 11-page letter to a judge who is expected to decide Tuesday how long Hale will spend in prison for leaking classified documents on the U.S. drone program to a journalist. Hale pleaded guilty in March to leaking documents under the Espionage Act that revealed secrets about U.S. drone operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
In a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady, Hale shared the trauma he experienced as a participant and witnessed gruesome and violent drone strikes. He recalled when colleagues at the NGA asked him to join them to watch “war porn” or archived footage of drone strikes. He could no longer suppress his conscience.
“My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life. At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this, too, was folly,” Hale stated. “Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.”
“So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”
His defense asked the court for 12 to 18 months and a “period of supervised release with mental health counseling,” maintaining that was reasonable given prior sentences issued by the same court against former CIA officers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling. (Both were the target of Espionage Act prosecutions.)
Even though Hale pled guilty on March 31 to one of the five Espionage Act offenses he faced, prosecutors remained spiteful and unwilling to support anything less than a “significant sentence” to “deter” government employees or contractors from “using positions in the intelligence community for self-aggrandizement.”
Prosecutors requested a sentence of at least nine years because Hale only accepted what he did was legally wrong, not morally wrong, and refused to believe prosecutors’ claims that the disclosure of documents risked “serious” or “exceptionally grave damage” to U.S. national security.
During the sentencing hearing, the court was cleared so the U.S. government could further present secret evidence involving an alleged “internet compilation” distributed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that referenced two of the documents. Prosecutors refused to declassify this to ensure transparency and fairness in the proceedings.