By Norman Solomon
Continuing to deliberate [Jan. 26] as this week gets underway, the jurors in the CIA leak trial might ponder a notable claim from the government: “This case is not about politics.”
The prosecution made that claim a few days ago in closing arguments — begun with a somber quotation from Condoleezza Rice about the crucial need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Of course prosecutor Eric Olshan was not foolish enough to quote Rice’s most famous line: “We don’t want the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud.”
During the seven days of the trial, which received scant media coverage, Rice attracted the most attention. But little of her testimony actually got out of the courtroom, and little of what did get out illuminated the political context of the government’s case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.
A heavy shroud over this trial — almost hidden by news media in plain sight — has been context: the CIA’s collusion with the Bush White House a dozen years ago, using WMD fear and fabrication to stampede the United States into making war on Iraq.
And part of the ongoing context of the Sterling case has been the Obama administration’s unrelenting pursuit of Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information — revealed in the last chapter of a book by James Risen — about a now-15-year-old CIA operation that’s far more suitable for Freedom of Information Act disclosures than criminal prosecution. The jury is weighing nine felony counts, including seven under the atrociously misapplied Espionage Act.