On the Curious Timing of Daniel Everette Hale’s Arrest

By all appearances, the FBI executed a search on the home of Daniel Everette Hale, an intelligence analyst the government has accused of being Jeremy Scahill’s source for his Drone Papers reporting, on August 8, 2014. In the search, they found a thumb drive with a PowerPoint on drone operations that he had printed off at work over five months earlier.

By that time, Hale had already printed out all 23 documents, unrelated to his work at Leidos, that are charged in his indictment. He also had an unclassified document he printed off at work on his home computer. He had a separate thumb drive with Tails on it, the operating system that the Intercept recommended users use to share files. Somewhere along the way, the government obtained Hale’s location data.

The August 2014 search was done a month after the Intercept published — in July 2014 — the first of the documents Hale printed out, and fourteen months before the Intercept first published that drone war PowerPoint, in October 2015. So the entire time the Intercept was publishing these documents, the government had solid evidence on who their suspected source was.

By the time FBI did that search, Hale had been in contact with Scahill — in largely unsecure form — for fifteen months. Even before Hale left the Air Force in July 2013, Hale had done a Google search on the NSA unclassified computer assigned to him for details on Scahill’s Dirty Wars book tour. He attended an event at Politics and Prose that month, and told a “confidant” he had met Scahill, who wanted to tell his story. Hale played a public role in some of Scahill’s events about the US war on terror. They emailed (including about Edward Snowden) through the summer and spoke at least once on the phone.

It wasn’t until September 2013 that Scahill and Hale switched to Jabber (but even there, the government has evidence of at least three of their Jabber chats before Hale started printing off files from work), perhaps because Hale at least once texted Scahill about getting on Jabber, apparently the day before he printed out a bunch of drone war documents.

All that suggests that, as soon as a month after the Intercept first published documents from Hale, the government had all the same evidence they’ve shown in this indictment substantiating the very strong case that Hale was Scahill’s source.

That was almost five years ago (the statute of limitations for the 793 Espionage Act crimes with which they’ve charged Hale is 10 years).

Just as curious, the government indicted Hale (in EDVA, based off work Maryland FBI Agents did) on March 7, apparently with a newly installed grand jury. The indictment has been sealed since then, waiting for Hale’s arrest in Nashville.

It is not at all surprising that the government indicted Hale. Even under the Obama Administration’s aggressive prosecutions of whistleblowing leakers, the case would be among the type they prosecuted (even though the drone documents he allegedly leaked exposed really damning details about a dysfunctional side of our war on terror, so the prosecution might have embarrassed Obama). The Trump Administration has gotten even more aggressive with journalists.

According to his criminal cover sheet, Hale is represented by Abbe Lowell who, along with being Jared Kushner’s lawyer, is also one of the best lawyers in the country on defending leak cases.

38 replies
    • BobCon says:

      If you were to take a rough guess at what it would cost to hire someone like Lowell for a case like this, what would it be?

      I realize it can vary a lot depending on whether it goes to trial or if there is an offer to settle already on the table, just curious what kind of range we’re looking at here.

      • bmaz says:

        Hard question. I know that nearly a decade ago his billing rate was already near $1,000/hr. It is certainly higher than that now. But no sane criminal lawyer bills hourly after the fact. I would expect a requested retainer in the vicinity of $750,000 to $1,000.000. And maybe make that initial retainer nonrefundable, with provisions to reseed it at defined intervals. And not just Lowell will bill against this, his associates, paralegals, secretaries, and investigators will too. The money can fly out the door in this kind of situation. Which is exactly why I ask the question of who is paying.

        • BobCon says:

          Thanks, that gives me a sense of scale — we’re not talking $25-50K.

          I know major media won’t pay sources, although they may cover expenses in limited circumstances. I’m curious if protection against legal expenses of a source are ever on the table during negotiations with an outlet. Not that I imagine The Intercept would ever sign off on representation at the level of Lowell.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh heck no. That might…might…be the start of a vehicular homicide case in Arizona (and that might still be low actually), not an espionage case in EDVA. Honestly, I have friends who now get up to $10,000 up front on a common misdemeanor DWI.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’ve heard that the legal costs for probate of a will can run $10K. I don’t know if that’s usual, high, or due to complexity of the will.

        • bmaz says:

          This is not even close to my area of knowledge! But, yes, I would think that is probably correct, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Not to mention anticipated challenges from other claimants.

        • horses says:

          Straight news media does not and cannot pay for lawyers. Only a few tabloid outlets can still pay for tips from sources.

          With eBay and craigslist having siphoned off most of the advertising dollars for free or close to it, there’s no budget to pay for staff, let alone legal counsel.

        • drouse says:

          The sheer cost suggests a good sized organization or a very wealthy individual. My paranoid mind went to Jared, the billion dollar bailout and Hale sharing his services, but that makes utterly no sense at all.

        • timbo says:

          Perhaps not. I have heard it bandied about though that there are high powered lawyers who are, in fact, members of Code Pink…

        • bmaz says:

          Love to see that cite. Even if a few do occasional pro bono work for Code Pink, there is no way Code Pink could ever come close here.

    • viget says:

      Literally the first question that came out of my mouth (I know, I need to stop talking to myself) after I finished the post (excellent, as always, Marcy), and there it is, right after I scroll down!

      So my question, bmaz, is who doesn’t want the details about this to come out? I assume there will be a plea deal here, no?

  1. Ollie says:

    DemocracyNow! is running a segment on this hero today. Personally, I think it’s just an extension of Trump’s Admin war on journalism. The mindset today is startling: the Pentagon Papers era focused on the daring illegality of that time to today where the focus is on journalists instead.

    Thanks for this story Marcy.


  2. Chick Fillet says:

    I loved Hale’s disclosure of Obama’s kill chain. Stunning. He got to decide who lives or died,

  3. John Smith says:

    Marcy: missing text in the last sentence of article: “According to his ___________, Hale is represented by . . . “

  4. Tracy Lynn says:

    FWIW, it seems like it’s not a good idea to be a source for the Intercept these days. Perhaps that’s the message.

    • bmaz says:

      It is hard to be a source for anybody these days. Not sure the Intercept should be singled out too much, although they are clearly being targeted.

      • viget says:

        Is that of their own fault however? Granted, sounds like Hale had some pretty shitty opsec early on, it was probably too easy for the FBI to get this info.

        The skeptic in me wonders if it’s just all coincidence.

    • bmaz says:

      Or, instead, maybe Manning’s release had solely to do with the expiration of the first grand jury, and had nothing whatsoever to do with anything else.

      Which is why maybe, just maybe, they served her with yet another subpoena for the next current grand jury on her way out the door.

      Do you have anything to evidence different, or naw? If you do, please tell.

      • Vicks says:

        I would suggest you get together with management and run some numbers.
        Find out the real cost of your trolling.
        I can walk you through it if you’d like but I’m sure you can figure it out.
        Figure out how many lurkers it takes to get a donor.
        I gave $100 bucks the first or second month figuring I would do the same every quarter or so.
        I nixed that idea the second time you gave a dick response . That was BEFORE the Mueller report came out and you shut me down for pointing out the ways the obstruction part of the investigation was being treated differently and trying to figure out why.
        Frankly if you would have been more helpful I think we could have nailed it.
        Instead you sit there, the house troll, insulting people with ideas that don’t interest you or compete with yours.
        It’s on you to find peace with this habit of yours. As for my post I’m far from an idiot and Trump is a marketing genius.
        I understand why Manning was released and there is no evidence for me to produce when I comment on the coincidence, especially when the title of what I was commenting on is freaking called “On the Curious Timing of Daniel Everert Hales Arrest.

        • bmaz says:

          I suggest you mind your own business, and we will take care of ours, as we have done for twelve years without your assistance.

        • vicks says:

          Standing up for myself is MY business even if it is on someone else’s turf. I stand by my comment that the Trump Admin locking up a second whistle blower while Manning’s release was getting media attention was deliberate, and was intended to send a message from a wanna-be strongman to the folks in Trump-land currently being forced to choose between loyalty and exposing the truth.
          Agree, disagree, point out misinformation when you see it, but for Pete’s sake if you decide my comment is worth the effort of a reply at least show that you have read it first.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I read your comment the first time. I read pretty much all comments, that is how we do our job. And, after reading it, I did indeed point out the “misinformation”. And, still, none of that has anything to do with Manning, who was released solely by operation of law. And, by the way, I also read your latest missive to Rayne. The only one “trolling” right now is you, and we do not need your persistent assistance.

        • Rayne says:

          You are talking to management when you are talking to bmaz. We run on a shoestring. We’re volunteers and any donations are used for bandwidth/hosting/site development and maintenance. We are able to do what we do here because we are beholden to no one. There’s nothing here but a few people who are dedicated enough to dig for information, analyze and write about it, and then spend the rest of our remaining time on troll and bot patrol.

        • apotropaic says:

          You’re right, of course. And about 90% of the time I appreciate bmaz shirting someone down. About 10% of the time, however, I think he misreads sincere questions or reasonable guesses as malicious and reacts overly aggressively.

          As the OP says, it can be jarring to us lurkers, even when we have seen it happening for years. And it makes folks fearful of participating.

        • vicks says:

          Thank you for this description of your operation, it’s pretty much what I had imagined. The hard work and passion that goes into to this project leaps off every page.
          I know my financial support won’t make or break your mission but I will bet you if you do some digging you will cringe at the additional support you are chasing away.
          Trolling is toxic. It feeds the dark parts, the cancer that is creeping into our society. It has no place weaving itself into the excellent work being done by ALL of you folks.
          My mission to “freaking do something” when an opportunity show the downside of needless aggression is accomplished. The last word is all yours

    • bmaz says:

      We shall see on the 17th apparently. While Lowell was listed on that cover sheet, he, last I heard from Marcy, has not yet filed a notice of appearance for the docket in EDVA (a FPD handled the I/A in Nashville).

Comments are closed.