Whistleblowers Want Computers Returned

Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 12:03 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Four whistleblowers have filed a motion in federal court to recover personal computers and other items seized from their homes in 2007 by the FBI after they complained about mismanagement at the National Security Agency (NSA), which they said impacted national security, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The NSA employees had filed internal complaints with the Pentagon's inspector general alleging that the agency misspent money and ignored technological advances, hampering efforts to go after terrorist groups.

Only one of the four former NSA analysts, Thomas Andrews Drake, was ever charged with a crime for going public with the complaints and the felony espionage charges against him were eventually dropped after four years. He was only convicted of a misdemeanor for inappropriate computer use.

But the whistleblowers told the Sun Wednesday the government is still exerting retribution for their complaints by holding on to personal items and information.

“We’d like our stuff back,” Drake told the Sun. “They’re going to hold onto this stuff as long as they can until it’s made public or a judge rules against them. The evidence is no longer necessary.”

Drake, who now works in an Apple store, he still had to serve 240 hours of community service. The judge in the case criticized government prosecutors for dragging Drake through “four years of hell.”

The Sun reported that federal authorities are still holding seven of Drake’s computers containing tax returns, personal emails, family photos and information, and graduate school papers.

Another whistleblower, John K. Wiebe, told the Sun that the FBI has returned four of his computers, but still has two that also contain family information that he’d like to have back.

But the two said in Sun interviews that they believe the FBI is refusing to return the computers because they also hold the blueprint for a private consulting firm the NSA analysts planned to form after they left the agency.

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