Daniel Hale, a former Air Force intelligence analyst who once helped find targets for deadly U.S. drone strikes was sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret details about the program, reports the Associated Press. Hale told a federal judge he felt compelled to leak information to a journalist out of guilt over his own participation in a program that he believed was indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan far from the battlefield. U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, citing the need to deter others from illegal disclosures, imposed a punishment that was harsher than the 12- to 18-month term sought by Hale’s attorneys, but significantly more lenient than the longer sentence sought by prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg said the impact of Hale’s actions was not to contribute to a public debate over war but rather to “endanger the people doing the fighting.” He said that even if it was not Hale’s intent to aid a terror organization, that was what he did. Hale’s stated rationale that he was attempting to expose injustices surrounding the military’s drone program has earned him support among whistleblower advocates and among critics of the government’s war efforts.