Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is set to go on trial next month for allegedly giving classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen -- about a CIA operation that provided flawed nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in 2000.
The charges in the case are unproven. But no one disputes that Sterling told Senate Intelligence Committee staffers about that CIA action, dubbed Operation Merlin.
As Risen's book State of War has documented, Operation Merlin was ill-conceived and dangerous. In the name of countering nuclear proliferation, the CIA risked promoting it.
By informing the staff of the Senate
oversight committee about this reckless CIA operation, Jeffrey Sterling
acted responsibly and commendably. He went through channels to be a whistleblower, despite the great likelihood that doing so would antagonize top CIA officials.
The legal pursuit of Sterling smacks of selective prosecution. When it suits their purposes, top officials often leak information that is "classified." As the New York Times reported days ago: "The government hates leaks of classified information. Except when it doesn't."