Daniel Hale and America’s unending persecution of whistleblowers

Hosted by

"Fly my monkeys, fly" Art by Mr. Fish.

Struggling with the moral injury of taking part in America’s expanding drone wars, Daniel Hale took it as his civic duty to tell his fellow Americans the truth about what was being done in their name. In 2014, the former Air Force member and National Security Agency intelligence analyst leaked 17 documents to The Intercept that provided the basis for a series of articles detailing the full scope of the civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone strikes. 

Despite being billed by President Barack Obama, whose administration greatly expanded the drone wars, as “exceptionally surgical and precise,” what Hale’s leaks revealed was that not only was that not the case, but that what the U.S. was doing in the Middle East amounted to war crimes. In one such document about Afghanistan, it was recorded that over a five-month period, 90 percent of the people killed by the strikes--which are operated remotely, largely by young men on screens that have been likened to video games--were not death machine’s intended targets. 

The 33-year--old, rather than being hailed as a hero for blowing the whistle on the egregious U.S. operations, was charged in 2019 with “disclosing intelligence information and theft of government property” and sentenced in July 2021 to 45 months in prison--prosecutors had been seeking nine years--by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Although O’Grady commended Hale’s position regarding the drone strikes as “courageous and principled,” he argued the whistleblower violated the Espionage Act by leaking documents to The Intercept. 

On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Robert Scheer is joined by CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, who recently wrote a scathing piece about Hale’s case, to discuss Hale’s prison sentence and conditions.

Listen to the full conversation between Kiriakou and Scheer as the two discuss Hale’s case in detail as well as examine what the Department of Justice is aiming to accomplish by doling out punishment to whistleblowers. You can also read here about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s plea to President Joe Biden to pardon Hale.



Joshua Scheer