In May 2019, drone whistleblower Daniel Everette Hale was arrested and indicted on allegations that he disclosed classified documents about the U.S. military’s assassination program, believed to have been the source material for a series in The Intercept called “The Drone Papers”. On March 31, 2021, Hale pleaded guilty to a single count under the Espionage Act, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years. On July 27, 2021, Daniel was sentenced to 45 months in prison.

Hale is a veteran of the US Air Force. During his military service from 2009 to 2013, he participated in the US drone program, working with both the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. After leaving the Air Force, Hale became an outspoken opponent of the US targeted killings program, US foreign policy more generally, and a supporter of whistleblowers. He publicly spoke out at conferences, forums, and public panels. He was featured prominently in the award-winning documentary National Bird, a film about whistleblowers in the US drone program who suffered from moral injury and PTSD. Hale based his criticisms on his own participation in the drone program, which included helping to select targets based on faulty criteria and attacks on unarmed innocent civilians.

You can read his own words on the crisis of conscience that drove him, articulated poignantly in this letter to the Judge and his statement at sentencing.

Daniel is currently on home confinement after serving his sentence at USP Marion, in Illinois. His projected release date is July 5th, 2024. He was placed in the Communications Management Unit (CMU) within USP Marion. These units severely restrict and heavily monitor communications and visitations. CMUs have been heavily criticized for their Kafkaesque violations of due process, and widespread religious and political profiling.

For his whistleblowing, Daniel has received the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, and the Blueprint for Free Speech International Whistleblowing Prize.

Daniel served 3.5 years in prison for contacting the press about a matter of extreme public importance that has been shrouded in secrecy. For two decades, the US government has used that secrecy to deny the American public the basic right to informed debate and consent. Government officials have repeatedly lied about nature and the extent of drone assassinations. No one has ever been held accountable for these lies, or for the war crimes they have enabled. 

Daniel is a whistleblower who has enriched the public’s knowledge about matters of grave civic concern. It is unconscionable to use a law supposedly aimed at actual spies and saboteurs, against individuals who act in good faith to bring government misconduct to the attention of the public.


  1. Ask President Biden to pardon Daniel Hale.