In what’s almost guaranteed to be a controversial case, a former high-level National Security Agency official was charged today with crimes related to allegedly leaking classified information to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who “published a series of articles about the NSA” between February 2006 and November 2007.
So who is the reporter? Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may be Siobhan Gorman, who at the time was with the Baltimore Sun and now works for the Wall Street Journal.
The indictment alleges that NSA senior executive Thomas Drake was connected to the reporter via a mutual friend who was a congressional staffer. Through accounts on the private email communication service Hushmail, Drake and the reporter allegedly exchanged hundreds of emails. He allegedly scanned and emailed “electronic copies of classified and unclassified documents to the reporter.”
The indictment alleges that the reporter agreed to refer to Drake as a “senior intelligence official” and that the articles were published between roughly Feb. 27, 2006, and Nov. 28, 2007.
Gorman covered the NSA, which focuses on communications intelligence and is based in Fort Meade, Maryland, during that period. On Feb. 26, 2006, she penned a piece headlined “Computer ills hinder NSA.” It began:
“WASHINGTON — Two technology programs at the heart of the National Security Agency’s drive to combat 21st-century threats are stumbling badly, hampering the agency’s ability to fight terrorism and other emerging threats, current and former government officials say.”
And continued: “A former NSA employee put it more bluntly, as he explained why he was speaking to a reporter for the first time, though on the condition of anonymity: ‘What I am fearful of is: Because of all this, we will have a 9/11 Part II.’
Another Gorman piece from the period, billed as an exclusive, was titled, “NSA risking electrical overload: Officials say outage could leave Md.-based spy agency paralyzed.” It quoted a former senior official as saying that NSA leaders “claim they will not be able to operate more than a month or two longer unless something is done.”
Drake was an NSA employee from 2001 to 2006, working as technical leader in the directorate of engineering, according to the indictment. From 2006 to November 2007, when his security clearance was revoked, he worked as a teacher at the National Defense University, but retained his access to classified information, according to the indictment. He resigned in April 2008 “in lieu of termination.”
We’ve reached out to Gorman and the Sun but haven’t heard back.
Late Update: A spokeswoman for the Journal says the paper is declining to comment.