Declassified has learned that a member of the Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee was the individual who introduced a senior National Security Agency official, indicted earlier this week for leaking classified information, to the journalist who allegedly received and wrote about the secret material. The congressional staffer, Diane S. Roark, was the staff expert on the budget of the ultrasecret eavesdropping and code-breaking agency when she introduced alleged leaker Thomas A. Drake to Siobhan Gorman, then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun and now on the intelligence beat for The Wall Street Journal. The committee's chairman at the time was Congressman Porter Goss, who delivered a speech on the House floor praising Roark in 2002, when she retired from the staff. A former CIA undercover officer, Goss left Congress in 2004 to become George W. Bush's second CIA director.
On Monday the Justice Department made public a 10-count grand-jury indictment charging Drake, 52, with illegally retaining classified information, obstructing justice, and making false statements to investigators. The indictment says Drake, who held a high-ranking job at NSA between 2001 and 2008, "served as a source" for many articles about NSA by an unnamed newspaper reporter that were published between February 2006 and November 2007. As Declassified reported yesterday, a senior law-enforcement official confirms that the reporter was Gorman, who around that time wrote a series of articles for the Sun describing alleged waste, fraud, and abuse in efforts to update NSA' s information-processing system. NSA had two development programs, code-named "Thin Thread" and "Trailblazer," that seem to have been rival approaches to the problem of modernizing NSA's vast eavesdropping system to cope with the Internet's massive glut of electronic-message traffic. A former intelligence official, requesting anonymity when discussing sensitive information, says Drake may have been on the losing side of an internal battle over the competing programs. Current and former intelligence officials, also asking for anonymity, say that both Thin Thread and Trailblazer were ultimately assessed as wasteful failures, and that as a result NSA was at least temporarily forbidden to make any purchase over $100,000 without Pentagon approval. Gorman, who has not responded to an e-mail requesting comment, won a prestigious award from the Sigma Delta Chi journalism group in 2006 for her stories on the subject.