Friday, January 07, 2011

Former CIA Officer Charged By DOJ

Publishers Marketplace directed me to this story.

A former CIA officer, Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, has been indicted for leaking classified information to author James Risen for the 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.

Risen is a reporter for The New York Times and, although he was not named in the indictment, both The Times and Publishers Marketplace named him as the recipient of the classified info.

The Times reported:

That material did not appear in The Times. The indictment says that the journalist worked on an article about the program in 2003, but the newspaper decided not to publish it after government officials told editors that such a disclosure would jeopardize national security.

Risen went on to publish his book with a chapter containing the material three years later.

The Department of Justice announced yesterday that Sterling, an attorney, has been charged in a ten-count indictment. Six of the counts relate to unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, one count of unlawful retention of national defense information, one count of mail fraud, one count of unauthorized conveyance of government property and one count of obstruction of justice.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned the indictment on December 22 and it was unsealed yesterday, at which time Sterling was arrested in St. Louis.

The Times reported that Sterling worked at the CIA "from 1993 until he was fired in 2002."

The DOJ press release stated:

From November 1998 through May 2000, he [Sterling] was assigned to a classified clandestine operational program designed to conduct intelligence activities related to the weapons capabilities of certain countries, including Country A. During that same time frame, he was also the operations officer assigned to handle a human asset associated with that program. According to the indictment, Sterling was reassigned in May 2000, at which time he was no longer authorized to receive or possess classified documents concerning the program or the individual ...

The indictment alleges that Sterling, in retaliation for the CIA’s refusal to settle on terms favorable to him in the civil and administrative claims he was pursuing against the CIA, engaged in a scheme to disclose information concerning the classified operational program and the human asset – first, in connection with a possible newspaper story ... and, later, in connection with a book published by the author in January 2006.

Mr. Risen is African-American and has accused the CIA of racial discrimination.

The Times reports that author Risen has been subpoenaed twice, first by the Bush administration and later by the Obama administration. Each time he was asked to divulge his source for the book. He says he has not revealed that information.

Go here to read the DOJ announcement.

Go here to read The New York Times story.

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