Target: President of the United States Barack Obama
Goal: Release former CIA agent who reported on dangerous foreign policy tactics.
A former CIA officer and whistle-blower is serving a three-year prison sentence for revealing sensitive national defense information to a journalist. Jeffrey Sterling’s conviction on espionage charges sets a troubling precedent for freedom of information in the U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to be transparent, but the prosecution of whistle-blowers such as Sterling follows a troubling trend wherein the flow of information is restricted.
Sterling was convicted for his contact with journalist James Risen. He expressed concern about Operation Merlin, a plan devised by the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for nuclear weapons in an effort to delay or altogether halt Iranian efforts to maintain a nuclear weapons program. During Sterling’s trial, the Department of Justice could not identify any direct evidence proving that he divulged classified information, instead relying on circumstantial evidence such as emails and telephone conversations in their case against him.
Sterling insists that he utilized proper channels and informed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his concerns. Operation Merlin was a dangerous plan, and Sterling’s attempts to report it demonstrate affection for his country, not contempt or betrayal.
In a similar sentencing occurring only one day before Sterling’s, General David Petraeus received two years’ probation and a fine for the felony of providing classified information to an unauthorized individual. Sterling’s lawyers insisted that he “not receive a different form of justice” than Petraeus, asking for a similarly light punishment, as opposed to the 19 to 24 years imprisonment that federal prosecutors were seeking.
Being a whistle-blower is a hazardous role. Individuals who report on their superiors often face discrimination, termination, and in Sterling’s case, prosecution. Sterling informed the public about Operation Merlin because he was concerned about the project’s potential dangers, and this commitment and bravery should not be punished. Sign the letter below to urge President Obama to pardon Sterling.
Dear President Obama,
A former covert officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, Jeffrey Sterling, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence after it was determined that he revealed sensitive national defense information to a journalist. Sterling insists that he utilized proper channels, and during Sterling’s trial, the Department of Justice could not identify any direct evidence proving that he divulged classified information, instead relying on circumstantial evidence such as emails and telephone conversations.
Sterling’s actions demonstrate affection for his country, not contempt. He is a whistle-blower who was attempting to protect the public, yet he finds himself imprisoned. In a similar sentencing occurring one day before Sterling’s, a general received two years’ probation and a fine for the felony of providing classified information to an unauthorized individual. This disparity only highlights the injustice evident in Sterling’s case. I urge you to honor your commitment to providing transparency by pardoning Jeffrey Sterling.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Central Intelligence Agency