January 10, 2011

Risen CIA source arrested by Justice Department


A former CIA employee has been arrested and charged with being a source for New York Times reporter James Risen‘s 2006 book State of War, according to a Politco report by Laura Rozen. Says Rozen,

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 22, 2010 and the indictment was unsealed today, the Justice Department said.

The indictment charges Sterling, who worked for the CIA from 1993-2002, with six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, as well as one count each of unlawful retention of such information, mail fraud, unauthorized conveyance and obstruction of justice.

Rozen also notes that Sterling had charged the CIA with discriminating against him because he is an African-American, and notes he was “involved in contentious negotiations with the Agency and its publication review board about redactions to the manuscript of a book he sought to publish.”

A press release from the Justice department frames things a bit differently:

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 to be written by an author employed by a national newspaper in early 2003 and, later, in connection with a book published by the author in January 2006.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives