Indictment: Nashville veteran gave reporter classified national defense information

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former intelligence analyst from Nashville was arrested Thursday on allegations he illegally obtained classified national defense information and disclosed it to a reporter.

According to an indictment, 31-year-old Daniel Everette Hale served as an enlisted airman in the U.S. Air Force from July 2009 to July 2013. He received language and intelligence training and was assigned to work at the National Security Agency, or NSA, and deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst.

After leaving the U.S. Air Force in July 2013, Hale was employed by a defense contractor and assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, where he worked as a political geography analyst between December 2013 and August 2014.

In connection with his active duty service, and work for the NSA, and during his time at NGA, Hale held a Top Secret // Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance and was entrusted with access to classified national defense information, the indictment states.

Beginning in April 2013, the court documents allege that while enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to the NSA, Hale began communicating with a reporter, who he met in person on multiple occasions, and at times, communicated with the reporter via an encrypted messaging platform.

While working as a cleared defense contractor at NGA in February 2014, Hale reportedly printed six classified documents unrelated to his work at NGA and soon after exchanged a series of messages with the reporter. Each of the six documents printed were later published by the reporter’s news outlet.

The indictment alleges Hale also printed 36 documents from his Top Secret computer, including 23 documents unrelated to his work at NGA. Of the 23 documents unrelated to his work at NGA, Hale provided at least 17 to the reporter or the reporter’s online news outlet, which published the documents in whole or in part. Eleven of the published documents were marked as Top Secret or Secret.

According to the indictment, in August 2014, Hale’s cell phone contact list included contact information for the reporter, and he possessed two thumb drives. One thumb drive contained a page marked “SECRET” from a classified document that Hale had printed in February 2014 and had attempted to delete from the thumb drive, while the other contained Tor software and the Tails operating system, which were recommended by the reporter’s online news outlet in an article published on its website regarding how to anonymously “leak” documents.

Hale was charged with obtaining national defense information, retention and transmission of national defense information, causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.

An initial court appearance was scheduled for Thursday at the federal courthouse in Nashville.

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