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Home > Uncategorised > USA: Drone Whistleblower Jailed Ahead Of July Sentencing

USA: Drone Whistleblower Jailed Ahead Of July Sentencing

Whistleblower Groups Push Congress For Stronger Whistleblower Protections In AML Act

Thursday 6 May 2021, by siawi3


Drone Whistleblower Jailed Ahead Of July Sentencing

By Kevin Gosztola,

May 5, 2021

Above photo: Daniel Hale at peace protest outside White House in undated photo. DIY Roots Action website.

NOTE: To learn more about the prosecution of Daniel Hale and the assault on our right to know, listen to this week’s interview on Clearing the FOG with lawyer Chip Gibbons of Defending Rights and Dissent. – MF

A federal judge ordered drone whistleblower Daniel Hale’s arrest, and United States authorities took him into custody.

On April 23, Judge Liam O’Grady signed an order suggesting Hale violated the terms of his supervised release. An arrest warrant was issued, and on April 28, he was jailed.

Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan, a different judge than the one who has presided over his case, held a hearing on the alleged “pretrial release violation.” Hale maintained no violation had occurred, yet the court scheduled a bond revocation and detention hearing for May 4.

The chain of events came after a “special condition” was added to Hale’s conditions of release—that he submit to “substance abuse testing and/or treatment as directed by pretrial services.”

According to Jesselyn Radack, the head of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts who has publicly represented Hale, “Because of concerns about whistleblower Daniel Hale’s mental health, he was taken into custody and is in solitary.”

Since Hale’s case is in the Eastern District of Virginia, he is detained in the Alexandria Detention Center, where U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in 2020 while she was resisting a grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks. It is also where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be jailed if he was extradited to the U.S. for a trial.

Hale is set to be sentenced on July 13. He could be sentenced to anywhere from three to five years.

Under President Barack Obama’s administration, he helped expose the targeted assassination program, including drone warfare.

Hale pled guilty on March 31 to one charge of violating the Espionage Act, when he provided documents to Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill and anonymously wrote a chapter in Scahill’s book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program.

The guilty plea made Hale the first whistleblower to be convicted under the Espionage Act during President Joe Biden’s administration.

Under President Barack Obama, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was targeted in the Eastern District of Virginia with an Espionage Act prosecution. He wound up pleading guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in order to ensure he only went to prison for 30 months.

Kiriakou has been an ardent Hale supporter and reacted to his detention, suggesting this was a “government power play.”

“I think that the government is unhappy with the way that their case is going,” Kiriakou stated. “Daniel Hale is viewed as a whistleblower and as someone who has done a great public service. Rather than allow him to continue to be free until his case is resolved, they’ve decided to incarcerate him and to bully him until his sentencing is final.”

Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CODEPINK, which launched a campaign urging the judge to give Hale no jail time at sentencing, was distressed to learn he was in jail.

“This seems to me like a form of psychological torture,” Benjamin declared. “Daniel Hale has PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] precisely because of the drone program that he was part of when he was in the military, and the sentencing that he faces is something that has obviously weighed very heavily on him, as has the entire episode from the time that the U.S. government has gone after him as a whistleblower.”

“He needs help from people in the public health field, but he certainly should not be in detention and much less in isolation. He is a sensitive young man, who cares about people’s lives, and that’s why he revealed the information about U.S. drone killings.”

Benjamin continued, “This was the same jail where Chelsea Manning attempted suicide and where the judge in the case of Julian Assange said that he couldn’t be extradited because he would risk psychological harm being in this prison, where they put whistleblowers in isolation. Now, to put Daniel Hale, who is already suffering mentally, in this same situation is cruel and inhumane.”

During Hale’s plea hearing on March 31, O’Grady was particularly concerned about his mental health and urged him to notify his probation officer if he felt like hurting himself.

Prosecutors from the Justice Department refused to dismiss four additional charges and cancel the trial altogether.

This development imposes a tremendous barrier on Hale’s ability to consult with his attorney ahead of his sentencing.

If prosecutors are not pleased with the severity of the sentence issued, they can theoretically proceed with a trial on the four charges and apply further pressure to an unemployed military veteran, who suffers from mental health problems and is now enduring isolation.

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure.”



Whistleblower Groups Push Congress For Stronger Whistleblower Protections In AML Act

By Ana Popovich,

May 5, 2021

On April 30, nonprofit organization the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) sent a letter to members of Congress advocating for stronger whistleblower provisions in the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act of 2020. The letter is cosigned by the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund, Public Citizen, Government Accountability Project, Project On Government Oversight, Whistleblowers of America, and ACORN 8.

“The essence of money laundering is to hide the source of ill-gotten wealth,” the letter states. “Without insider information, this multi-trillion dollar highly corrupt international business cannot be stopped.”

The organizations acknowledge that the AML law is a start to addressing this type of crime but state that the Act’s whistleblower provision “contains some weaknesses that we urge Congress to rectify.” According to the letter, “[u]nlike the Dodd-Frank and False Claims Acts, the AML law does not guarantee whistleblowers meaningful compensation and the whistleblower reward program that it creates at the Department of Treasury is unfunded.” Additionally, the organizations write that the anti-retaliation provisions “exclude employees at FDIC-insured institutions and credit unions, thereby denying protection to employees of most US banks.” The organizations state that if “this coverage is removed, whistleblowers would be afforded fairly robust protection against retaliation.”

Previously, whistleblower experts wrote about this loophole in the AML Act’s whistleblower provisions. According to Stephen M. Kohn, founding partner at whistleblower law firm at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, “this carve-out will have devastating consequences on AML whistleblowers.” He writes that the carve-out is vast and will effectively exclude employees at all U.S. banks, forcing these excluded employees to rely on older AML laws which Kohn describes as “completely ineffective.”

The organizations’ letter mentions that the AML law “should be strengthened in conformance with the existing highly effective Dodd-Frank Act model.” The Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010, mandates strong whistleblower protection provisions for corporate whistleblowers. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, whistleblowers can obtain rewards for their disclosures as well. The Dodd-Frank whistleblower programs have been highly effective models of legislative success: read WNN’s coverage of these programs here.

The organizations also point to the whistleblower reward programs at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as effective models. “Each of these programs has resulted in billions of dollars of sanctions for the small price of millions paid to whistleblowers who are the backbone for countless enforcement actions and courageously step forward to protect investors and promote market integrity,” the letter states.

The letter concludes with an offer to discuss the suggestions further. The organizations state that they “support the readoption and passage of the 2020 Senate version of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in the 2021 American Jobs Plan.”

The organizations’ letter is addressed to Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ranking Member of the same committee. It also addresses Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Ranking Member of the same committee.

On the same date, NWC and the same group of organizations — with the addition of Transparency International’s U.S. office — sent a letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) urging the passage of the CFTC Fund Management Act. Read more about that letter here.

In NWC’s press release, Interim Executive Director Mary Jane Wilmoth said about the letters: “These critical initiatives will improve upon the whistleblower protections and reward structures contained in the AML Act of 2020 and at the CFTC. Congress has reaffirmed its commitment to whistleblowers time and time again, and we, alongside a coalition of whistleblower advocates, call on them to do so again.”

Read NWC’s letter to Congress here.

Read NWC’s press release here.

Ana Popovich is a contributing editor with Whistleblower Network News, where she writes about breaking whistleblower news, healthcare fraud whistleblowers, and Covid-19 fraud whistleblowers. Ana has a B.A. in English from Georgetown University. While at Georgetown, she was the marketing chair of an affinity group and wrote content for the McDonough School of Business’ Business for Impact program. In 2018, Popovich was a public interest legal intern at the whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto.