“As another Memorial Day approaches, I find that it, like all holidays, has taken on a different, more indelible meaning for me; it seems freedom after incarceration bestows in one a higher level of appreciation of things that may have been previously taken for granted.”
— Central Intelligence Agency whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling
(May 22, 2019) — The CIA and the U.S. Justice Department tried to destroy the life of Jeffrey Sterling. Now, after two and a half years in prison, he’s trying to rebuild it.
Jeffrey readily acknowledged going through channels to blow the whistle on an ill-conceived and dangerous CIA operation against Iran involving flawed diagrams for nuclear weaponry. But the government prosecuted him on charges that he provided classified information to a New York Times reporter who included it in a book.
The January 2015 trial had a jury that included no African Americans and was filled with people sympathetic to local Northern Virginia mega-employers like the Pentagon and CIA. By early summer, Jeffrey was in prison.
Here at the RootsAction Education Fund, we were proud to work in solidarity with Jeffrey during his long imprisonment, and we’re now equally proud to sponsor his work as the coordinator of The Project for Accountability. You’ll give him a lift with the project if you make a tax-deductible donation in support of this exciting new venture.
“To me, Memorial Day has always served as a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in service to their country, but I see it a bit differently now,” Jeffrey told us days ago. “Those brave Americans who have died in active military service should be honored. However, I am dismayed at how honoring those who have sacrificed their lives serving our country has become the exclusive commemoration province for those who have served in the military.”
Referring to whistleblowers, Jeffrey said: “Serving and sometimes dying fighting for freedoms within this country is just as worthy of the admiration and honor so automatically granted to those in uniform. But those who sacrifice themselves and stand up to power and fight for truth in this country aren’t rewarded with the same honors so ritualistically granted to those same heroes who choose to serve in our armed forces. Instead, they are harassed, vilified and prosecuted as being supposed enemies to our country.”
Jeffrey knows all too much about harassment, vilification and prosecution as being a supposed enemy of the United States. A key goal of what the government did to Jeffrey was to make an example of him — to crush him — as a warning to other would-be whistleblowers.
Instead, the RootsAction Education Fund is glad to be joining in with Jeffrey’s post-prison work so that he can continue to be an example of resilience and revival in the face of persecution.
Jeffrey went to prison after prosecution that BBC News called “trial by metadata.” Now, he says, “I would like to address the need for accountability of power.”
As Jeffrey says, “Where would our cherished freedoms be in this country if not for those who have fought for truth? Think of the civil rights fighters who have championed equal rights for all Americans, and the myriad others who have fought for truth and justice like whistleblowers.”
And he adds: “Given Memorial Day, I immediately think of Daniel Ellsberg who took action in the face of tremendous threat and opposition to expose the wrongs of and oppose the Vietnam war, just like the others who protest the constant state of war that does little more than increase the roster of honored dead for Memorial Day.
“Such heroes have taken stands against the powers that, left unchallenged, are a constant threat to the freedoms we hold dear.”
The RootsAction Education Fund is sponsoring this project for the same reason that we’ve actively supported Jeffrey for more than four years, while he withstood the vengeful weight of the “national security” state.
Jeffrey infuriated powerful CIA officials when he sued the agency for racial discrimination, and later when he went through channels to tell Senate Intelligence Committee staffers about a botched and dangerous covert operation by the CIA. In retaliation, the CIA unleashed its unaccountable power against Jeffrey.
If you don’t already know about Jeffrey’s real-life nightmare of harassment, legal threats and persecution by the CIA hierarchy and the Justice Department, please take a look at the Background information we link to at the bottom of this email.
We plan to keep you informed about Jeffrey’s future activities on behalf of The Project for Accountability.
“As I come closer to hopefully sloughing off the last remaining shackles of my wrongful conviction and imprisonment — though there may be some doubt that I will be as free from supervised release as I should be this summer — I am looking forward to emerging, speaking about and raising awareness of issues that concern me like whistleblowing and holding power accountable,” Jeffrey tells us.
And he adds: “I am also excited to let you know that my book ‘Unwanted Spy — The Persecution of an American Whistleblower’ is due to be released this October.
“It is a memoir chronicling my journey in America battling the issue of race and the American dream and ultimately staying true to myself in the face of working at the CIA and being wrongfully tried for, convicted, and imprisoned for espionage. I am looking forward to a fall book tour which will allow me to meet the many of you who have been in solidarity with me during this journey.”
Jeffrey’s refusal to knuckle under to illegitimate power has come at a very steep personal cost. That’s the way top CIA officials wanted it. His enduring capacity to speak truthfully can help strengthen a wide range of whistleblowers — past, present and future.
You can help make that happen with a tax-deductible donation of any amount.
Please do what you can to support Jeffrey’s new work as coordinator of The Project for Accountability.
Watch the short video, The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Background:
• BBC News: “Jeffrey Sterling’s Trial by Metadata”
• John Kiriakou: “CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Placed in Solitary Confinement”
• ExposeFacts: Special Coverage of the Jeffrey Sterling Trial
• Marcy Wheeler, ExposeFacts: “Sterling Verdict Another Measure of Declining Government Credibility on Secrets”
• Norman Solomon, The Nation: “CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to Prison: The Latest Blow in the Government’s War on Journalism”
• Reporters Without Borders: “Jeffrey Sterling Latest Victim of the U.S.’ War on Whistleblowers”
• AFP: “Pardon Sought for Ex-CIA Officer in Leak Case”
• Documentary film: “The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling”