Drake to Ask for Probation at Sentencing Hearing

07.13.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Former National Security Agency official Thomas A. Drake, who pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of exceeding the authorized use of a government computer, will ask a federal court to sentence him to one year probation with community service at a sentencing hearing on Friday, July 15.

Mr. Drake, who is understood to have been a source for several Baltimore Sun stories that revealed NSA mismanagement, was indicted in April 2010 under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information, as well as obstruction of justice and making false statements, charges that he denied.  In a breathtaking reversal last month, the prosecution abandoned all of the ten felony counts in the Drake indictment, and accepted a misdemeanor guilty plea instead.

Technically, however, the court could still sentence Mr. Drake to a maximum of a year in prison, though the government is not requesting more than a year of probation.

This week, Mr. Drake’s attorneys filed a sentencing memorandum to bolster his request for probation.

The document, with numerous attachments, testifies to Mr. Drake’s distinguished military service in the US Air Force and the US Navy Reserves, his exceptional professional achievements (with multiple commendations from NSA), his physical courage, his moral rectitude, and the high esteem in which he is held by his colleagues.  (The memorandum, filed under seal, was partially redacted to exclude personal information about Drake’s family and friends.)

Meanwhile, his attorneys argued, Mr. Drake has already suffered severely, even before being sentenced.  His professional career has been all but terminated.  He lost his clearance and the possibility of a federal pension.  He was fired from a teaching position at Strayer University as a direct consequence of the government’s felony indictment.  He has been uprooted from the community of his peers.  And he has been driven into debt.

“Friends and colleagues from all stages of his life resoundingly call Mr. Drake a hard-working, dedicated, and honest public servant who puts others first,” wrote public defenders James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman.  “They herald his honesty and patriotism, and laud his commitment to family, citizenship, and the ideals of the Constitution.”

“Against the backdrop of Mr. Drake’s personal history, and in light of the suffering and punishment he already has endured as a result of his actions, incarceration is not an appropriate sentence in this case,” they wrote.  “A one-year probationary sentence, with a condition of community service, is the just punishment in this case, for this crime, and for this defendant.”

Judge Richard D. Bennett of the Eastern District of Virginia will preside over the July 15 sentencing hearing.