In a filing related to the detention of whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, the Justice Department argued that being a whistleblower and leaking information to the media was a “greater threat to society” than when a spy sells that information to a single foreign country.
The exact details of what Sterling was being charged with leaking were never made public, but there is speculation that it was related to James Risen’s book State of War. The Justice Department filing however insisted that the stance was a general one, and not case-specific.
This might explain why recent officials have shown so little interest in going after actual spies yet are forever riled up by the notion that the American public might have access to similar embarrassing information.
Jeffrey Sterling is the fifth person in US history charged under the Espionage Act related to classified information. His trial is seen by many as a “test case” for a possible move against WikiLeaks. Another interesting aspect is that Sterling’s attorney still has not been granted clearance to discuss the case with his own client.