Ex-CIA Officer Arrested in Continuing Obama Attack on Alleged Leakers
Monday, January 10, 2011
Like no other presidential administration before it, the Obama administration is cracking down on government officials who leak classified information to the media. The latest case has been brought against Jeffrey Sterling, an ex-CIA officer who disclosed details last decade about an operation to undermine Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program to a New York Times reporter.
Sterling, who worked at the CIA from 1993 until he was fired in 2002, was arrested Thursday in St. Louis. He is charged with 10 felony counts, including obstruction of justice and unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.
The information provided by Sterling was not published by The New York Times, but in a book written by journalist James Risen. The book portrayed the CIA operation as having inadvertently helped the Iranians gain nuclear technology.
Risen was twice subpoenaed to divulge his source, once by the Bush administration and then by Obama’s Justice Department. He reportedly never revealed the name of the person he spoke with.
The indictment of Sterling is the fifth case that the Obama administration has initiated against current or former government employees accused of revealing secrets to the public.
Steven Aftergood, who runs the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, told The Washington Post that the five cases are more than the total for all previous administrations. He characterized the government’s legal effort as casting “a chill on relations between national security officials and members of the public.”
Aftergood also wrote that “The indictment shows some prosecutorial creativity in adding charges such as ‘mail fraud,’ along with alleged violations of the espionage statutes. This is based on the allegation that Mr. Sterling ‘did knowingly cause to be delivered by the United States Postal Service … a shipment of Author A’s published books for sale at a commercial retail bookstore,’ thereby somehow defrauding the CIA.”
The other Obama-era leak prosecutions have been against FBI contract linguist Shamai Leibowitz, convicted of sharing classified documents with a blogger; Thomas Drake of the National Security Administration (NSA), charged with giving classified information to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun; Army private Bradley Manning, suspected of supplying WikiLeaks with classified military and State Department materials; and State Department contract analyst Stephen Kim, accused of giving a Fox News reporter secret information regarding U.S. policy regarding North Korea.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Ex-C.I.A. Officer Named in Disclosure Indictment (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)
Former CIA Officer Jeffrey A. Sterling Charged in Leak Probe (by Greg Miller, Washington Post)
Another Indictment in a Leak Case (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)
Fired by C.I.A., He Says Agency Practiced Bias (by James Risen, New York Times)
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