Mr. Hale wrote that he took issue with the fact that armed military-age men who were in the presence of a tracked combatant were considered acceptable targets when the drone operators launched their missiles, killing the assembled group.
“How could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who, more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time,” Mr. Hale wrote.
As his service continued, Mr. Hale became increasingly convinced that the war in Afghanistan had little to do with preventing terrorist attacks in the United States, especially as he witnessed children inadvertently killed in strikes gone wrong, he wrote.
Mr. Hale attended antiwar conferences after leaving the Air Force, but decided to take the job with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency having been offered a lucrative paycheck. When friends at the agency began viewing old footage of drone strikes, he said, his conscience “came roaring back to life.” Hoping to help stop the cycle of violence, he reached out to a reporter, he said in the letter.
Lawyers for Mr. Hale said that the 45-month sentence handed down by the court was too long for their client to stay in prison, but were grateful that the judge listened to Mr. Hale.
“The bottom line is that Mr. Hale acted out of conscience,” Todd M. Richman, a federal public defender, said in an email. “His disclosures didn’t harm anyone but were of vital public importance.”
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/27/us/politics/daniel-hale-leak-sentence.html