National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake pleaded guilty to “exceeding authorized use of a computer” and could serve up to a year in prison, according to a plea agreement with federal prosecutors filed in court on Thursday night. The misdemeanor charge was a major concession for the Justice Department.Under the plea agreement, the U.S. will recommend that the court sentence “should reflect the fact that he has accepted responsibility” and downgrade his sentence accordingly.
The agreement came as the case against Drake was facing some setbacks in the public opinion realm. Additionally, a judge ruled the government would have to show some of the purported classified information Drake was accused of leaking to the jury.
In a single-page criminal information filed with the court, Drake admitted intentionally exceeding his authorized use of NSA computers and obtaining information from NSANet to provide orally and in written form to another person who was not authorized to receive that information.
Drake allegedly discussed two programs at NSA with a reporter from the Baltimore Sun who wrote a story about how the programs were hampering the agency’s ability to fight terrorism. He recently appeared on 60 Minutes and said the government was trying to send a chilling message to whistleblowers.
(H/T Associated Press)