Prosecutors Ask Court to Bar Claim That “Everybody Leaks”

10.05.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking classified information to reporter James Risen, should not be permitted to argue at trial later this month that he was unfairly singled out for prosecution, government attorneys urged in an October 4 motion.

“The Court should bar the defendant [Sterling] from presenting any evidence, argument or comments of selective prosecution or that everybody leaks classified information,” the prosecution motion said.

Further, the motion said, Sterling should not be allowed to introduce evidence “that everyone at the CIA or on Capitol Hill leaks information” or evidence “regarding specific examples of the leaking of classified information, whether prosecuted or not.”

If such evidence were to be introduced at trial, prosecutors said, then “Fights over the classification levels of the information, the potential damage caused to the United States, and a host of other issues would consume and overwhelm the real issues in this case.”

Among several other categories of defense evidence or argument that prosecutors asked the Court to rule out of order were claims that the alleged leaks were justified or necessary, unsupported defense allegations of an alternative perpetrator of the leaks, and arguments that CIA has conspired to implicate the defendant.

Prosecutors said that case law does not allow the presentation of “arguments that leaks are good or necessary, or that [Sterling] was a whistleblower, thereby justifying his conduct or negating his criminal intent.”

And they said “There is absolutely no evidence that the CIA was out to get the defendant, or that the CIA orchestrated some grand conspiracy to blame the defendant for the leaks to Risen.”

In a separate motion yesterday, prosecutors petitioned the court to admit into evidence several categories of statements.  These included CIA records of phone calls made by James Risen to CIA public affairs, talking points presented by Condoleezza Rice at a White House meeting with Risen and Jill Abramson of the New York Times, and “excited utterances” made by an individual identified as Human Asset No. 1 who believed his identity might have been compromised by publication of information in Mr. Risen’s book.

The trial of Jeffrey Sterling is scheduled to begin on October 17.