Judge Delivers Rebuke to Prosecutors in Sentencing NSA Official

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The recent sentencing of a government intelligence official saw a dramatic and unusual rebuke of the U.S. Department of Justice by a federal judge. Four years after searching the home of National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was suspected of illegally leaking classified information to a reporter, and more than year after actually indicting him on 10 felony counts, the government dismissed those charges on the eve of trial in June 2011 and agreed to a single misdemeanor count of exceeding authorized use of a government computer.

At Drake’s July 15 sentencing, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett in the District of Maryland was rightfully outraged at the delay in both bringing the charges and ultimately dropping the case, calling the four-year period “unconscionable.” Judge Bennett continued:

It is at the very root of what this country was founded on against general warrants of the British. It was one of the most fundamental things in the Bill of Rights that this country was not to be exposed to people knocking on the door with government authority and coming into their homes. And when it happens, it should be resolved pretty quickly, and it sure as heck shouldn’t take two and a half years before someone’s charged after that event.

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