ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former Air Force intelligence analyst who once helped find targets for deadly U.S. drone strikes was sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking top-secret details about the program.
Daniel Hale, 33, told a federal judge he felt compelled to leak information to a journalist out of guilt over his own participation in a program that he believed was indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan far from the battlefield.
“It is wrong to kill,” Hale said in a defiant statement in which he accepted responsibility for his actions, but also pleaded for mercy. “It is especially wrong to kill the defenseless.”
But U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady told Hale he had other avenues for airing his concerns besides leaking to a journalist. Citing the need to deter others from illegal disclosures, he imposed a punishment that was harsher than the 12- to 18-month term sought by Hale’s attorneys but significantly more lenient than the longer sentence sought by…