News Release

CIA Whistleblower Trial: Historic and Underreported

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified at the trial of trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling. Courtroom Sketch by Debra Van Poolen.

The historic trial of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling enters its second week today. Few journalists are in the courtroom.

ExposeFacts is continuing its extensive daily coverage of the trial, which is expected to end early next week when the case goes to the jury. The special coverage — The Latest — provides in-depth news and analysis at: http://exposefacts.org/blog/the-latest/

As the New York Times reported last week, “a coalition of government accountability groups, liberal advocates and journalism organizations released a petition calling on Mr. Holder to stop the prosecution of Mr. Sterling.” The petition, with more than 50,000 signers, is posted here.

Journalists Marcy Wheeler and Norman Solomon, who wrote about the intertwined stories of Sterling and New York Times reporter James Risen in an in-depth article for The Nation, have returned to the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.

Assessing the first week of the trial, Wheeler writes: “While the jury will likely neither note nor learn of them, there were details from last week’s testimony in the Jeffrey Sterling trial that resonated with two other notable cases involving the CIA: the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslims and the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity.” She observes that “the jurors are not weighing in on the selective prosecutions and discrimination involving the CIA; they will only weigh whether the government has enough evidence to find Sterling guilty of leaking details of Operation Merlin. Yet that larger context remains important for understanding the pursuit of leaks.”

In his latest article, Solomon writes that “the CIA is airing soiled threads of its dirty laundry as never before in open court. The agency seems virtually obsessed with trying to refute the negative portrayal of Operation Merlin — the CIA’s effort 15 years ago to provide a flawed nuclear weapon design to Iran — in James Risen’s 2006 book State of War.” Solomon adds that prosecution witnesses “hammered at the vital need for scrupulous rectitude from CIA officers to obey the law and regulations in handling classified materials. As you might imagine, none had anything to say about disapproval of violating laws against torture or destroying evidence of torture.”

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com, @emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at emptywheel.net.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

ExposeFacts is a project of IPA.