Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Times Leaker Finally Caught?

One of James Risen's intelligence sources for his award winning book "State of War" has finally been indicted:
A former CIA officer has been indicted on charges of disclosing national security secrets after being accused of leaking classified information about Iran to a New York Times reporter.

Federal prosecutors charged Jeffrey Sterling with 10 counts related to improperly keeping and disclosing national security information.

The indictment did not say specifically what was leaked but, from the dates and other details, it was clear that the case centered on leaks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen for his 2006 book, "State of War." The book revealed details about the CIA's covert spy war with Iran.
This guy sounds like a real trip:
Sterling, who is black, filed a complaint against the CIA in 2000, claiming racial discrimination and later sued the agency unsuccessfully. He also submitted his memoirs to the CIA to be published and was extremely unhappy with the review process.

The indictment said Sterling's anger and resentment grew towards the CIA and claimed that he retaliated against the agency by attempting to cause the publication of classified information. The indictment said that government officials warned Risen, identified only as Author A, and his newspaper employer, that Sterling's information could endanger a human asset's life and that in May 2003 the newspaper agreed not to publish it.
If found guilty both him and Manning should hang. But "State of War" contained more than one leak. The book coincided with Risen's Pulitzer winning Times column unveiling the "Terrorist Surveillance Program", the compartmentalized NSA effort to run down calls to AQ. Here's Jed Babbin from last year:
If the NYT report is right, there is a selectivity in the Obama Justice Department’s investigation that will compound the errors made by the Bush Justice Department. Why seek the source of the Iran leak and not that of the NSA program leak, arguably the most damaging in recent history? And if the Obama Justice Department wants to prosecute the leakers, why not pursue cases on the SWIFT, CIA secret prison and other leaks which caused significant damage?

How far will the Justice Department pursue the leakers? Will James Risen be jailed, as Judith Miller was, for refusing to reveal his source? Will the most damaging leaks – the CIA secret prisons, the NSA terrorist surveillance program, the SWIFT program and the black satellites – even be pursued?
Interesting they got an indictment without Risen--the article goes to great lengths to mention he had maintained a Sargent Schultz posture with the Feds. And how about the timing, just as the GOP formally takes over leadership in the House. Still, Babbin's questions remain valid.

And let's add another--the Wen Ho Lee affair, another leak case Risen was involved in that resulted in a cash settlement for Mr. Lee coming from several major news orgs that conveniently protected Clinton-era sources. Hmm, wonder if any of those sources are back working in government now, or rumored to be coming back any time soon?


My harsh feelings about the proposed punishment for those who willfully leak classified information for personal or emotional gain applied to Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of feeding the info to Wikileaks. I was not suggesting in any way that Peyton Manning be hanged just because the Colts finished ahead of the Titans and made the playoffs.

As to timing, it's interesting. Maguire picked up the date mentioned above--May 2003--when the CIA convinced the NY Times not to publish the Iran leak. At the same time one of their reporters, Judy Miller, was evidently being fed info about Joe Wilson and Plame and also didn't take it to press, while down the road another Times reporter, Kristoff, was being fed info about Cheney and Bush from Wilson and, Plame, the former allowed to publish secret info in the paper, which played into the 2004 election (since Wilson would become a Kerry team member).

As JOM points out, the CIA convinced the Times that the Iran story wasn't fit to print, but when Novak called the CIA after receiving the Plame leak from Armitage the very same outfit, only 2 months later, could not convince him to stand down. The story then also played into the 2004 presidential election.

The report also suggests that Risen had the Iran story in 2003 and sat on it until late 2005 when his book was published, which led into the 2006 mid-term campaign season. Wonder what changed the minds of the Times editors? Around 2005 reports were beginning to surface about Iran's involvement in Iraq, and some were suggesting that Iran needed to be dealt with more forcefully.

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