CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Convicted of Espionage (video)Patrick Lang doesn’t like leaks, not after decades as a Green Beret and a second career at the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he ran worldwide spying operations. But on Monday, he called the conviction of former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling on espionage charges, for allegedly leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, “an injustice.”Sterling, 47, a 10-year veteran of the spy agency, was accused of telling reporter James Risen about a bizarre, failed CIA operation to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program by providing it with deliberately misleading technical blueprints, supposedly from a disaffected Russian scientist code-named Merlin. (Sterling was Merlin’s handler, or case officer, in spy jargon.)Risen published an account of the operation in his 2006 book, State of War, calling it “hopelessly botched, and possibly backfiring by giving the Iranians blueprints that could be useful to them if they sorted out the good information from the errors,” according to an Associated Press summary.
NOOR: And this case is entirely circumstantial. There's no direct evidence linking Sterling to this leak.The Invisible Man: Jeffrey Sterling, CIA Whistleblower | Norman Solomon
WHEELER: No, there are two minutes and 40 seconds of phone conversations, the content of which we don't have any knowledge, before Risen had his complete draft of a story that The New York Times quashed in April 2003. There's an email sharing an unclassified CNN story on Iran's nuclear weapons from March 2003. And then there are further communications from 2004 and 2005, when Sterling lived in Missouri. Again, we don't know the content of any of those. We've got snippets of email conversations that say things like, I really want to talk to you.
And then the one other thing. We know, for example, that details of Sterling's performance review show up in the book. And that's one of the things the prosecution brought up in the closing argument that I think made it clear that Sterling had some conversation with Risen about it. And then there was a detailed--it wasn't submitted as evidence, but nevertheless the jury got to hear it, that Sterling's prior attorney had called the CIA saying he might go to the press in early 2003. Now, the jury wasn't supposed to take that as evidence, but if they did, I could see why they would find that compelling, even though the government didn't have the evidence to submit that in their case-in-chief.
So that--I mean, I've said online--I also covered the CIA leak case against Scooter Libby, and I can tell you that there was far more direct evidence implicating Libby and Cheney in leaking Valerie Plame's identity than there was against Sterling, and nobody did any prison time for that.
The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling -- after his conviction Monday afternoon as a CIA whistleblower.This is how a police state protects “secrets”: Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA and up to 80 years on circumstantial evidence - Salon.com
Sterling's indictment four years ago received fleeting news coverage that recited the government's charges. From the outset, the Justice Department portrayed him as bitter and vengeful -- with the classic trash-the-whistleblower word "disgruntled" thrown in -- all of which the mainline media dutifully recounted without any other perspective.
The participants in the economy of shared tips and intelligence in Washington D.C., breathed a collective sigh of relief when, on January 12, the government announced it would not force James Risen to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. “Press freedom was safe! Our trade in leaks is safe!” observers seemed to conclude, and they returned to their squalid celebration of an oppressive Saudi monarch.CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling found guilty on all counts — RT News
That celebration about information sharing is likely premature. Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven
counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.
To understand why that’s true, you need to know a bit about how the Department of Justice larded on charges against Sterling to get to what represents a potential 80-year maximum sentence (though he’s unlikely to get that). Sterling was accused — and ultimately convicted — of leaking two related things: First, information about the Merlin operation to deal flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, as well as the involvement of a Russian engineer referred to as Merlin in the trial. In addition to that, the government charged Sterling separately for leaking a document (one which the FBI never found, in anyone’s possession): a letter Merlin included along with the nuclear blueprints he wrapped in a newspaper and left in the mailbox of Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. So the government convicted Sterling of leaking two things: information about the operation, and a letter that was used in the operation.
Then, having distinguished the operation from the letter, DOJ started multiplying. They charged Sterling for leaking the operation to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article about it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter about it: one leak, three counts of espionage.
Then they charged Sterling for improperly retaining the letter (again, FBI never found it, not in CIA’s possession, not in Sterling’s possession, and Merlin purportedly destroyed his version before anyone could find it in his possession). Then DOJ charged Sterling for leaking the letter to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article including it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter including verbatim excerpts from it (apparently Risen is a better investigator than FBI, because he found a copy): one letter, four more counts under the Espionage Act.