Ex-NSA Leaker's Advice To Snowden: "Always Check Your Six"
by Tyler Durden
"Be lawyered up to the max... find a place where it's going to be that much more difficult for the US to make arrangements for his return... and and always check your six," is the warning (advice) that Thomas Drake offers Edward Snowden, adding that, "it's now validation of this vast, now systemic, industrial-scale leviathan surveillance system."
As Reuters reports, Drake is one of the few people who understands from personal experience what the NSA Whistleblower is going through - the 56-year-old was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly revealing classified information about the agency's sweeping warrantless wire-tapping program. The government later dropped all but a misdemeanor charge.
"Always make sure you know what's behind you," he adds, "when you offer up information about the dark side of the surveillance state they don't take too kindly to it." Drake, whose life was "essentially destroyed," is now a technical expert at an Apple store, but he still believes what he did was worth it, having no doubts: "Is freedom worth it? Is liberty worth it? Is not living in a surveillance society worth it? You've got to stand up and defend the rights and the freedoms that prevent that from actually happening."
Thomas Drake is one of the few people who understands from personal experience what the future may hold for Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former NSA contractor who exposed the U.S. government's top secret phone and Internet surveillance programs.
His advice for Snowden: "Be lawyered up to the max and find a place where it's going to be that much more difficult for the United States to make arrangements for his return," Drake said. "And always check six, as we said when I used to be a flyer in the Air Force. Always make sure you know what's behind you."
Drake, a 56-year-old former intelligence official at the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly revealing classified information about the agency's sweeping warrantless wire-tapping program. The government later dropped all but a misdemeanor charge.
"When you offer up information about the dark side of the surveillance state they don't take too kindly to it," he said. "They want to stay in the shadows."
Drake, one of six people indicted for leaking secret information since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, said the FBI investigated him because it believed he was the source of a New York Times story published in December 2005 that first revealed the NSA's wire-tapping program. He says he was not the source of that information, and 10 felony counts against him were dropped when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling government information.
"My life was turned upside down and inside out," said Drake, who now earns an hourly wage as a technical expert at an Apple store. "I know what it's like to live in a surveillance state because the surveillance state was on me, riding me, for so many years. They obviously wanted to do me in. It was relentless. I wouldn't want any American to go through it."
Drake, who resigned from the NSA in 2008, said the data released by Snowden validated concerns he began raising internally as early as 2002 about a huge spike in domestic surveillance after the September 11, 2001, hijacking attacks.
"None of it surprises me," said Drake. "What you're seeing here is simply the continuation of what was done in absolute secrecy after 9/11. Those programs were put in place and simply expanded."
Drake said he was still suffering the consequences of his actions. "My life was essentially destroyed," Drake said, noting that the case took a terrible financial and personal toll. He lost his retirement savings and went into debt as his legal bills approached $100,000.
Asked if he still believes what he did was worth it, Drake had no doubts: "Is freedom worth it? Is liberty worth it? Is not living in a surveillance society worth it?"
"If you don't want to live it, then you've got to stand up and defend the rights and the freedoms that prevent that from actually happening," he said.
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