Ilhan Omar calls on Biden to pardon drone program whistleblower Daniel Hale

‘His motivation, as outlined in his deeply moving letter to the judge in his case, was profoundly moral,’ Ms Omar wrote to the president

Nathan Place
New York
Thursday 26 August 2021 20:37
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Rep Ilhan Omar has called on President Joe Biden to pardon Daniel Hale, the former Air Force analyst who leaked secret data about US drone strikes.

“The legal question of Mr Hale’s guilt is settled, but the moral question remains open,” Ms Omar wrote in a letter to the president on Thursday. “I strongly believe that a full pardon, or at least a commutation of his sentence, is warranted.”

Hale, 33, pleaded guilty earlier this year to leaking classified documents about civilian deaths from the drone program, which he said were much higher than Americans knew. He was convicted of violating one count of the Espionage Act, and sentenced to 45 months in prison.

At his sentencing, Hale said he was compelled to break the law by his own conscience.

“With drone warfare, sometimes nine out of 10 people killed are innocent,” Hale told the judge. “Please, your honour, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”

In light of that ethical reasoning, Ms Omar believes Hale deserves some leniency.

“His motivation, as outlined in his deeply moving letter to the judge in his case, was profoundly moral,” the congresswoman wrote. “Acknowledging where we’ve gone wrong, and telling the truth about our shortcomings, is not only the right thing to do, but also an act of profound patriotism.”

Ms Omar also questioned the timing of Hale’s indictment. Although the leaks were discovered during the Obama administration, the Justice Department did not prosecute him until Donald Trump was president.

“We are all well aware of the severe consequences of the Trump Administration’s chilling crackdown on whistleblowers and other public servants who they deemed insufficiently loyal,” the US representative wrote. “I believe that the decision to prosecute Mr. Hale was motivated, at least in part, as a threat to other would-be whistleblowers.”

In addition, Ms Omar argued that Hale’s disclosures hurt no one, and in fact greatly helped Americans to understand the harms of a program that had largely “remained in the shadows.”

“It is for precisely these cases, where the letter of the law does not capture the complex human judgments in difficult situations, that your pardon authority is at its most useful,” she implored the president.

The Biden administration has not yet responded to the request.

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