Former NSA executive Thomas Drake, who was banished from the agency over his role as a whistleblower in a 2010 case, is still picking up the pieces of his life as he works in a retail store in the Washington, D.C. area.
According to a Government Executive
report, Drake is working in a Bethesda, Md. Apple store. He rose up the ranks at the NSA during his government career to become a senior executive at the spy agency, only to see it all come crashing down when he leaked information
about a surveillance program that targeted American citizens.
Drake was indicted in 2010 and charged with,
among other crimes, "willful retention of national defense information." Most of the charges were eventually dropped, but he did plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misusing the NSA's computer network.
These days, Drake punches the clock in his retail job — and still feels like an outsider when it comes to his old life.
"The consequences continue to unfold," Drake said to an audience on Capitol Hill this week, reports Government Executive.
"My social contacts are gone, and I'm persona non grata. I can't find any work in government contracting or in the quasi-government space, those who defend whistleblowers won't touch me."
Drake said he tries to help protect whistleblowers and encourages them to speak the truth.
"The national security space is an extraordinary blanket, exempted to make it incredibly dangerous to speak truth to power, to reveal wrongdoing without suffering huge consequences," Drake said. "I'm the exceptional price you pay."
Later, Drake said, "Apple is fun, but it's nowhere near who I am, where I grew up, or where I am in [wanting to] serve my nation. I don't take freedom for granted. I wake up every morning and pinch myself, it's emotional."
The most well-known NSA whistleblower is Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of classified documents pertaining to the agency's spying practices. Snowden is currently living in Russia under asylum, as he is wanted by U.S. authorities.
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