Prosecutor Claims Former Black CIA Officer Convicted Of Espionage Was Disgruntled Over Racial Discrimination
Is this guy a black Edward Snowden, or is that too much of a stretch? One big difference in this case is that Sterling claims he did nothing wrong.
According to NY Times reports:
Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was convicted of espionage Monday on charges that he told a reporter for The New York Times about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
The conviction is a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has conducted an unprecedented crackdown on officials who speak to journalists about security matters without the administration’s approval. Prosecutors prevailed after a yearslong fight in which the reporter, James Risen, refused to identify his sources.
The case revolved around a C.I.A. operation in which a former Russian scientist provided Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. Mr. Risen revealed the operation in his 2006 book, “State of War,” describing it as a mismanaged, potentially reckless mission that may have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program.
On the third day of deliberations, the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Va., convicted Mr. Sterling on nine felony counts. Mr. Sterling, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1993 to 2002 and now lives in O’Fallon, Mo., faces a maximum possible sentence of decades in prison, though the actual sentence is likely to be far shorter. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of Federal District Court, who presided over the weeklong trial, allowed Mr. Sterling to remain free on bond and set sentencing for April 24.
“This is a just and appropriate outcome,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said. “The defendant’s unauthorized disclosures of classified information compromised operations undertaken in defense of America’s national security. The disclosures placed lives at risk. And they constituted an egregious breach of the public trust by someone who had sworn to uphold it. As this verdict proves, it is possible to fully prosecute unauthorized disclosures that inflict harm upon our national security without interfering with journalists’ ability to do their jobs.
While it might seem like this is a case where race wasn’t a factor, it turns out that it did play a role. The prosecution argued that Sterling was disgruntled over workplace discrimination.
Liberal advocacy groups have hailed Mr. Sterling as a whistle-blower for taking his concerns about the program to the Senate Intelligence Committee in early 2003, a time when dissenting voices in the C.I.A. were hushed as the country prepared for war in Iraq. The Justice Department and C.I.A., however, deny that characterization. They said that the Iran operation had not been mismanaged and that Mr. Sterling had gone to Congress and then the news media as a way to settle personal grievances.
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. They described Mr. Sterling, who is black, as bitter and frustrated about what he believed was workplace discrimination. Telephone records and emails showed that Mr. Sterling and Mr. Risen had talked frequently, and prosecutors argued that only Mr. Sterling had the information, the motive and the opportunity to leak it.
We’re a little torn over this one because we’d hate to be tied up in court for not divulging the identities of our government sources — if we had any. But at the same time, if dude snitched, isn’t he risking public safety and national security? What do you think?
Also, it’s worth noting that Sterling is the one of eight people the Obama administration has charged with discussing national security matters with reporters. Under all previous presidents combined, only three people had faced such prosecutions!