Thomas Drake and Rob Kall
(image by Rob Kall)
Whistleblower Former NSA Exec Thomas Drake On Obama's Speech, Benghazi, 911 and more- part 1 transcribed from my January 2014 interview podcast.
R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey, sponsored by opednews.com. My guest tonight is Thomas Drake. He is a Whistleblower, and in my opinion an American Hero. He is a former senior executive of the US National Security Agency, or the NSA. He is a decorated United States Airforce and US Navy veteran, and he has been brutally abused by the federal government.
In 2010 the government alleged that Drake mishandled documents, one of the few such espionage cases in the US history, where he was tried under the Espionage Act. The fact is that 60 Minutes did a story on him and shortly after, almost every single charge was dropped except for "misuse of a computer", for which Drake paid incredibly dearly. So, we're going to talk about a whole lot of topics about NSA, about the President's new speech today and a whole lot more.
I had a really great opportunity to spend a day with Thomas Drake last Tuesday at a reception then he gave a talk with Bill Binney and then we sat for dinner for almost five hours and learned a real lot and I want to throw it back to him tonight, so welcome to the show, Tom.
T.D.: Thanks for having me.
R.K.: Glad to have you back. So just to get started, you were a senior executive at NSA. What was your highest position and title there and how senior was that?
T.D.: Well, senior executives serve as the super grades, as they used to call it in the government, so at times, I was in roughly seven thousand employees of the government. These are the career employees of the government who manage and lead the various government agencies and departments.
I was actually hired in under a special program led by General Michael V. Hayden the then-director of NSA, responding to significant pressure from stake-holders, primarily Congress. The NSA was increasingly challenged by the demands of the internet and digital age and in order to insure it's relevance, they were strongly urging NSA who were resisting with significant push-back, strongly urging NSA to hire people from the outside, meaning people or as some used to joke about, to stir up the gene pool.
Hire people from the outside who had not grown up at NSA, who had not promoted up through the ranks of NSA, were not career NSA and so in February 2001, NSA actually did what you would do if you were looking for senior executives: they advertised for nine positions at NSA and they went out to Monster.com, the Washington Post, and a number of other outlets across the United States seeking candidates for these positions and I applied for one of those, one of nine as I understood later, there was well over a hundred thirty five people who actually applied for the position that I applied for; and long story short I went through the hiring process like you would normally expect in any major or mid-sized corporation, and ended up as one of two finalists and my hiring manager was the number two or number three person at NSA, the Signals Intelligence Director, Maureen Baginski and then there were several months that went by going background checks and clearances and paperwork and bureaucracy.
I was ultimately offered a position as a senior executive coming in at the upper levels, not the junior levels, and because I was hired by the number three person and I started on August 26 is when I actually entered on duty, went through all of the normal hiring processes and procedures and briefings and, I just want to remind your listeners that this is the fourth time that I took an oath to support and defend the constitution and then my first day on the job was actually 9/11.
R.K.: Okay. And what was your job?
T.D.: I was hired in at the time, ironically enough it was not the job for which I had applied, it was kind of a bait and switch, in fact it was a long story, I'm detailing this in a book I'm writing although I cannot find a publisher for almost two years now but I was not hired for the job I applied. I actually ended up in a position on staff but it was actually a more senior position, I was actually reporting directly to the Signals Intelligence Director and it was a position designated Senior Change Leader.
R.K.: Senior Change Leader?
T.D.: That was actually my title. I mean I was hired in as a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service of which at that time there was probably around two hundred and forty or so at NSA, I mean NSA is a significantly large organization in terms of employees, when you include the military, it's quite significant in all the other, of course it's grown quite a bit in the past years but I was hired in... I'm sorry there's -
R.K.: Go ahead, keep going.