Daniel Hale Released From Prison, He Never Should Have Been There In The First Place


Daniel Hale’s only “crime” was exposing war criminals in our own government.

In February former US Air Force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was finally released from prison after serving 33 months of a 45 month incarceration, slated to carry out the rest of his sentence under federal custody in home confinement until July 2024.

Hale was indicted and arrested in 2019 and prosecuted under the Espionage Act, a charge for which he ultimately plead guilty, for leaking classified information to The Intercept in 2014 forming the basis for a series of reports known as The Drone Papers, which exposed the heinous and criminal nature of the US military drone program. Including the scope of targeted assassinations and documentation showing that the vast majority of casualties killed via U.S. drone strikes are innocent civilians. One batch of documents, detailing a program known as Operation Haymaker, demonstrated that within a five month period upwards of 90% of those killed were not the intended target. 

Along with documents detailing a secret watchlist guidance showing that upwards of 40% of those listed on the US governments database of terrorism suspects, which included US citizens and numerous individuals placed on a no fly list, had “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.”

Despite not being charged for his leaks by the Obama administration, the Trump Justice Department decided to dig up the old case and indict Hale in a bid to “make an example” out of would-be whistleblowers amid Trumps continuation of the war on whistleblowers. The Biden administration finalized prosecution efforts in 2021, effectively throwing the book at Hale and setting the precedent for the harshest sentence ever for a whistleblower. 

In what has been rightly characterized as retaliatory and “another draconian move by the government to silence and punish whistleblowers”, Hale was then transferred to a communication management unit (CMU) at Illinois’ Marion Penitentiary — an isolation unit typically reserved for housing terrorists and other “high threat” inmates but has nonetheless come under scrutiny for its violation of due process as well as being weaponized by the Bureau of Prisons as a means of silencing political prisoners.

“It can only be seen as punitive that Daniel Hale, who has no criminal history and pled guilty to a nonviolent crime, got put in a secret, Kafkaesque, and isolated ‘terrorist unit’ with virtually no access to outsiders—or even other prisoners.” said Jesselyn Radack, one of Hale’s attorneys speaking with journalist Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter.

Hales indictment by the Trump administration for exposing the heinous nature of the drone program comes as no surprise, since after taking office in 2017 Trump immediately began following in the footsteps of his predecessor President Barack Obama, whose own warmongering earned him the moniker of “Drone King”, and quickly began to exceed Obama’s death toll in stride. Killing more civilians with drone strikes in just nine months than Obama did in all eight years of his presidency combined. A deadly pace which Trump would maintain throughout his presidency.

In addition to Trump’s escalation of the drone war he also quickly went to work rolling back the few rules in place assuring transparency, not only increasing the tempo of the bombings by broadening the scope of battlefield designations but making it that much harder to report and keep track of civilian casualties and provide any meaningful oversight to the program to hold it accountable for unlawful killings.

In 2021 President Joe Biden’s administration would continue to maintain this gut wrenching status quo. Less than a month after Hales conviction the drone program would make headlines again. This time for the murder of an innocent family in Afghanistan.

On August 29, 2021 Zemari Ahmadi, 38, along with all his children; 13-year-old Farzad, Zamir, 20, and Faisal, 16, as well as other family members including nephews Arwin, 7, and Benyamin, 6, and Two-year-old Malika Ahmadi, and two other toddlers were all obliterated in the front yard of their home by a US Reaper drone.

The strike was a retaliation in response to an attack that killed 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. Marines at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul just three days prior. Zemari was falsely suspected of having an affiliation with ISIS-K, the terror group that carried out the attack. The Ahmadi family had no connection with ISIS-K, in fact Zemari was a US ally, an aid worker working for a nonprofit to help feed refugees.

Even after the Pentagon publicly admitted fault in the slaughter of an innocent family, it nonetheless announced that no disciplinary action would be taken and no one would face any consequences for the atrocity. 

That same year, while still in federal incarceration Daniel Hale was awarded the Blueprint for Free Speech International Whistleblowing prize for his courageous efforts in exposing the criminality of the drone program. Further exemplifying that what Hale did was an act of public service, not one that should be treated as a criminal offense.

Let’s be clear, Daniel Hale was punished for simply telling the truth. A fact which underlines one of the key underlying issues of the US empire, it’s military industrial complex, and the state of perpetual war.

When all the justifications for war are based on lies, and when the proliferation of warmongering goes unabated not to ensure a robust national defense but rather to stuff the coffers of war profiteers; When truth tellers like Hale, Manning, Snowden, Assange and so many others are treated as criminals while the real criminals guilty of global slaughter are allowed to walk free, it is indicative of the truly repugnant nature of the system which we all live under.

One that inverts reality in an Orwellian fashion, where war is peace and truth is treason. 

Daniel Hale should have never gone to prison. George W Bush, Barack Obama, Donald J Trump, and Joe Biden are the ones who should be spending the rest of their lives behind bars for the mass murder of millions. 

Daniel hale is a hero, and his return home should be celebrated with a hero’s welcome.