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A Whistleblowing Precedent

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The charges of waste and poor performance leveled against the National Security Agency in a leak to the press by NSA employee Thomas Drake -- who on June 9 arrived at a plea bargain with federal prosecutors -- actually surfaced first in a 2004 Defense Department inspector general's report, according to the whistleblower advocacy and research group the Project on Government Oversight.

Released today for the first time after POGO filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the redacted IG's report said "the National Security Agency is inefficiently using resources to develop a digital network exploitation system that is not capable of fully exploiting the digital network intelligence available to analysts from the Global Information Network."

Drake, who faced a possible 35 years in prison for espionage, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of misusing a government computer, an outcome considered a victory by transparency groups.

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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