Daniel Hale (intelligence analyst)
Daniel Hale is a former National Security Agency intelligence analyst who leaked classified information about drone warfare to the press. In 2019, He was indicted on four counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and one count of theft of government property.
- It requires an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you’re using. There’s countless instances where I’ve come across intelligence that was faulty...
This outrageous explosion of watch-listing — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong...
- Quoted in Daniel Hale Blew the Whistle on the US's Illegal Drone Program. He's a Hero, Not a Criminal, Jacobin (10 April 2021)
- When the president... says they are doing everything they can to ensure there is near certainty there will be no civilians killed, he is saying that because he can’t say otherwise, because anytime an action is taken to finish a target there is a certain amount of guesswork in that action... It’s only in the aftermath of any kind of ordinance being dropped that you know how much actual damage was done. Oftentimes, the intelligence community is reliant, the Joint Special Operations Command, the CIA included, is reliant on intelligence coming afterwards that confirms that who they were targeting was killed in the strike, or that they weren’t killed in that strike.
- Before I joined the military, I was well aware that what I was about to enter was something I was against, that I disagreed with... I joined anyway out of desperation. I was homeless. I was desperate. I had nowhere else to go. I was on my last leg. The Air Force was ready to accept me... It’s kind of funny, a little ironic too, because so far I’m the only adult male in my entire family, immediate and external, who had not been to prison so far... I come from a long lineage of prisoners, actually, a very proud tradition of fuck-ups who get drunk and go driving, or sell pot, or carry a gun when they shouldn’t be carrying a gun, in the wrong place at the wrong time, a lot of that where I’m from.
- The people who defend drones, and the way they are used, say they protect American lives by not putting them in harm’s way... What they really do is embolden decision makers, because there is no threat, there is no immediate consequence. They can do this strike. They can potentially kill this person they are so desperate to eliminate because of how potentially dangerous they could be to the US. But if it just so happens that they don’t kill that person, or some other people involved in the strike get killed as well, there are no consequences for it. When it comes to high-value targets, every mission you go after one person at a time, but anybody else killed in that strike is blanketly assumed to be an associate of the targeted individual. So as long as they can reasonably identify that all of the people in the field view of the camera are military-aged males, meaning anybody who is believed to be age 16 or older, they are a legitimate target under the rules of engagement. If that strike occurs and kills all of them, they just say they got them all.
- Quoted by Chris Hedges in A "traitor" to the American death machine faces years in prison — while the killing goes on, Salon (12 July 2021)
- The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan... Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Patika province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities... Except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket... As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well... Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled...
- I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden, terrifying flurry of hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain. Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair... Not a day goes by that I don't question the justification for my actions. By the rules of engagement, it may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men—whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify—in the gruesome manner that I did.
- As quoted in 'In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak', Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams, (23 July 2021)
Quotes about Daniel Hale
- [Hale] acted very admirably, in a way that very, very few officials have ever done in showing the moral courage to separate themselves from criminal activities and wrongful activities of their own administration, and resist them, as well as exposing them.
- Drone strikes are a form of extrajudicial execution that is illegal under international law... These antidemocratic impulses of the national security state are what’s actually harmful to our country — not a whistleblower who seeks to empower us to make democratic decisions about the crimes our government carries out in our name. Hale’s actions are both heroic and laudable. The fact that the government once again seeks to destroy a truth teller who exposed its crimes highlights the immorality of the system that Hale and others have exposed... The Espionage Act... has become the government’s go-to weapon against whistleblowers and journalists who challenge the US national security state. Hale conceded to giving documents about the US drone program to an investigative journalist (unnamed in court documents, but clearly Jeremy Scahill of the Intercept) and anonymously authoring a chapter in The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program. Far from a spy, Hale is a whistleblower — and a courageous one at that — whose actions have given us key insights into the unjust nature of US imperial power in the twenty-first century.
- Hale was coerced by Biden’s Justice Department on March 31 to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, a law passed in 1917 designed to prosecute those who passed on state secrets to a hostile power, not those who expose to the public government lies and crimes. Hale admitted as part of the plea deal to “retention and transmission of national security information” and leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. He is being held in the Alexandria Adult Detention Center in Virginia, awaiting sentencing on July 27. If he had refused the plea deal, he could have spent 50 years in prison. He now faces up to a decade in prison... The secret kill lists, which include US citizens, have transformed the executive branch into judge, jury and executioner, obliterating the right to due process. Those that commit these killings are unaccountable. Hale sacrificed his career and his freedom to warn us. He is not a danger to the country. The danger we face comes from the secret drone program, which is spiraling out of control and ominously being adopted by domestic law enforcement agencies. If left unchecked, the terror we impose on others we will soon impose on ourselves.
- On Aug. 8, 2014, the FBI raided Hale's home. It was his last day of work for the private contractor. A male and female FBI agent shoved their badges in his face when he opened the door. "Immediately behind them came about 20 agents, basically all of them with pistols drawn, some wearing body armor," he says in the film. "At this point I was extremely scared. By the time they finished his house was stripped of all electronics, including his cell phone. For the next five years he lived with the uncertainty of his fate. He struggled to find work, fought off depression and contemplated suicide. He was barred by law from speaking about his plight, even with a therapist. In 2019, the Trump administration indicted Hale on four counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of theft of government property.
The thousands of targeted assassinations carried out by drones, often in countries that are not at war with the United States, are an egregious violation of international law. They are turning huge swathos of the planet against us. The secret kill lists, which include US citizens, have transformed the executive branch into judge, jury and executioner, obliterating the right to due process
- Chris Hedges in A "traitor" to the American death machine faces years in prison — while the killing goes on, Salon (12 July 2021)
- Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn't getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn't make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller... Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Hale's honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.
- There was an enormous amount of pressure on Joe Biden to keep the war in Afghanistan going from within his own party, certainly from the military brass... Joe Biden made clear when he announced his withdrawal from Afghanistan that the United States was going to still have the capability to strike remotely. It is a harrowing grotesque flashback to many of the incidents we saw during the Obama era where the Biden administration authorized a drone strike on what they claimed was a vehicle carrying ISIS operatives. And you just recently had this terrorist attack at the Kabul Airport during the withdrawal. On the surveillance feed that the drone operators were looking at, we now know that they saw clearly at least one child and still went forward with the strike. Seven of the ten people killed in that strike were children. Ten of the ten people were civilians.
Joe Biden was part of the Obama administration, of course, which operated as a global octopus with lethal tentacles that could strike anywhere. Daniel Hale should be freed. He is an American hero for revealing what we now see continuing under Joe Biden.
- Daniel Hale is one of the most consequential whistleblowers... He sacrificed everything — an incredibly courageous person — to tell us that the drone war, that, you know, is so obviously occurring to everyone else, but the government was still officially denying in so many ways, is here, it is happening, and 90 percent of the casualties in one five-month period were innocents or bystanders or not the target of the drone strike. We could not establish that, we could not prove that, without Daniel Hale’s voice.