Former CIA analyst Pat Eddington is suing the Department of Defense over a 2010 case in which a former National Security Agency employee was charged with espionage after speaking to a reporter with the Baltimore Sun. Thomas Drake faced charges in 2010 after speaking with the reporter about an intelligence program that he believed was a violation of Americans' civil liberties.
The charges against Drake were eventually dropped, but Eddington is working to prove that Drake was right in his assessment of the program. According to the Intercept, Eddington has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain documents disclosing the NSA's shortcomings and has filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department.
"Those documents completely vindicate" advocates of the NSA's ThinThread surveillance program, for which Drake advocated over the competing surveillance program Trailblazer because it cost less and offered better privacy protections, Drake argued. He was charged with violating the Espionage Act after illegally obtaining and sharing documents that outlined the Trailblazer program, which gave the NSA powers to monitor cell phones and email.
The Trailblazer program allowed the bulk collection of data, including phone and internet communications, whereas the ThinThread program would collect data, sort it, and hide the information of Americans whose data was included in the collection.
Former NSA analyst Bill Binney explained to the Intercept, "Bulk collection kills people. You collect everything, dump it on the analyst, and they can’t see the threat coming, can’t stop it."
Eddington, who is spearheading the lawsuit against the DoD, explained, "You collect everything, dump it on the analyst, and they can’t see the threat coming, can’t stop it," adding, "Instead that system was shut down in favor of an SAIC boondoggle that cost taxpayers, by my last count, close to a billion dollars."
Drake opened up in 2015 about the NSA's case against him during a panel titled, "Secret Sources: Whistleblowers, National Security and Free Expression." He said, "I had become a dissident, as far as the NSA was concerned. If you become a dissident, the white blood cells kick in, culturally, to get rid of you."