Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted
The Obama administration has punished another government official for daring to expose mistakes stemming from a classified program. This time it’s Jeffrey Sterling, the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent who revealed troubles within the agency’s clandestine mission to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Sterling, who managed the covert operation codenamed Operation Merlin, was found guilty Monday on nine counts of espionage despite arguing he was a whistleblower troubled by the CIA’s “ill-conceived, poorly executed and reckless” effort.
The case represented “the latest example of the Obama administration’s unprecedented attack on unauthorized leaks and whistleblowers,” Jon Queally wrote at Common Dreams.
Federal prosecutors put together what’s been described a circumstantial case against Sterling, saying he was the confidential source who helped New York Times reporter James Risen discuss the Iranian mission in his book “State of War.”
The Department of Justice tried to force Risen to testify and finger Sterling as his primary source. But Risen refused to talk, and eventually Justice officials declined to compel him to provide incriminating testimony.
“The Justice Department had no direct proof that Mr. Sterling, who managed the Iranian operation, provided the information to Mr. Risen, but prosecutors stitched together a strong circumstantial case,” the Times reported.
Sterling will be sentenced April 24.
“The Sterling case – especially in light of Obama’s complicity in the cover-up of torture during the Bush administration,” The Intercept’s Dan Froomkin wrote, “sends a clear message to people in government service: You won’t get in trouble as long as you do what you’re told (even torture people). But if you talk to a reporter and tell him something we want kept secret, we will spare no effort to destroy you.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
Guilty Verdict for CIA Agent Called ‘New Low’ in War on Whistleblowers (by Jon Queally, Common Dreams)
The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower (by Norman Soloman, Expose Facts)
C.I.A. Officer Is Found Guilty in Leak Tied to Times Reporter (by Matt Apuzzo, New York Times)
CIA Whistleblower Goes on Trial (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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