CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Close To Death In Federal Prison

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Above Photo: Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, left, leaves the Alexandria Federal Courthouse on Jan. 26 with his wife Holly, center, and attorney Barry Pollack, after being convicted on all nine counts he faced of leaking classified information to a reporter. Photo: Kevin Wolf/AP

UPDATE: Under pressure from media and supporters, prison officials said they will consider CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s request to consult with an outside cardiologist.

An activist who led a 24-hour vigil for Jeffrey Sterling said his treatment is meant to ‘send out a signal so that others working in security will not come out and reveal what our government is doing.’

LITTLETON, Colorado — Jeffrey Sterling, one of the most recent victims of the U.S. government’s war on whistleblowers, may be at risk of dying in a Colorado prison.

In an interview published Tuesday in The Colorado Independent, the wife of the CIA whistleblower warned that his health is failing due to inadequate medical care at FCI Englewood, the federal prison where he is serving a sentence of three-and-a-half years.

“I’m concerned my husband may die,” Holly Sterling told the Independent’s Corey Hutchins. “I’m extremely concerned.”

Beginning Tuesday evening, a small group of activists held a 24-hour vigil near FCI Englewood to raise awareness of the whistleblower’s plight.


In May 2015, Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony charges, including seven charges of violating the Espionage Act, for revealing information about Operation Merlin, a secret CIA operation carried out under President Bill Clinton to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

However, as Shadowproof’s Kevin Gosztola noted in October, the evidence against Sterling was largely circumstantial. “At trial in January, the government presented no emails showing Sterling and Risen had ever communicated about ‘Operation Merlin’ or even classified information,” he reported.

Instead, Gosztola and others have argued that Sterling was targeted for speaking out against racism at the CIA. Gosztola wrote:

“Sterling communicated with [New York Times journalist James] Risen, but it was about a lawsuit he filed against the CIA alleging racial discrimination. The lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court and was eventually dismissed because the government invoked the ‘state secrets privilege’ to avoid litigation of his claims.”

Sterling’s wife shared with the Independent a complaint filed by the whistleblower on Aug. 11 about the “unresponsive and dismissive medical care” he’s received in prison. The Independent reported that, according to the complaint, Sterling “continually suffers chest pressure, shortness of breath, sweating and an uneven heartbeat, but isn’t receiving adequate care, and instead is being told to drink more water.”

In addition to seeking outside medical attention, Sterling has requested that the prison transfer his medical records to his wife so she can have them reviewed by a specialist.

Arn Menconi, the activist and Green Party candidate for Senate who organized the vigil outside FCI Englewood, told the Independent that Sterling is one of many victims in a federal war on whistleblowers.

“Americans should know that President Obama has indicted more whistleblowers than any president in history and this is to send out a signal so that others working in security will not come out and reveal what our government is doing,” Menconi told the Independent.

A September statement from Reporters Without Borders emphasized that the treatment of whistleblowers like Sterling was a major factor behind the United States’ poor standing in the organization’s annual Press Freedom Index. Currently, the U.S. currently ranks 41 out of 180 countries.

Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, said:

“Is a relationship with a reporter the new catalyst for government prosecution of whistleblowers, whether alleged or actual? If anybody can be sentenced in the United States just because he was merely talking to a journalist on a regular basis, where is press freedom heading in the country of the First Amendment?”

Watch “Sterling verdict shows government hypocritically targets whistleblowers – Norman Solomon” from RT America:

  • eliz77

    A government dedicated to the ideals of law and honesty would not do this to one of its citizens.

  • Jon

    Another indication of creeping tyranny

  • Andino Mining

    Oh, give me a break! This disloyal, incompetent asshole revealed highly classifed U.S. government information, part of a program to keep the mad mullahs of Iran from getting their greasy fingers on a nuke! “Racism” at the CIA! Oh, that is a laugh. Low IQ dummies like Sterling are treated with kid gloves at the diversity-mad CIA. Competent, hard-working white males (the backbone of the CIA since its beginning) are passed over so dolts like this can get promoted. As for his mud-sharking wife, who gives a shit about her: Not me.

  • kevinzeese

    Thank goodness racists expose themselves in their own words. People will judge his fact-less name calling obnoxious comment when they read it.

  • Andino Mining

    Screw you, Zeese. Unlike you, I know all there is to know about CIA. I worked with people who worked with this jerk. He was all over every woman in the office when he was posted to Baghdad. Yeah, I´m a racist, I support my own people and when I see a fat hog of a white woman with an ape like Sterling it makes me puke. I am sick of our national security being compromised by these affirmative action cases, like Huma Abedin, a Muslim Brotherhood infiltrator.

  • kevinzeese

    Every comment you make just re-enforces the view that you are a racist. Every name you call people just shows that you should be ignored. Keep digging yourself a deep hole.

  • Rick Eriksen

    Wow you drank all the kool aid…

  • Al_Dove

    When you said, “This disloyal, incompetent asshole revealed highly classifed U.S. government information”, I thought you were speaking of Hillary Clinton.

  • Margaret Flowers

    I’d like to bring us back to the essential point, which is that Jeffrey Sterling needs medical attention -something that all humans deserve.

  • chetdude

    Thank you Kevin and Margaret for not deleting that racist’s comments.

    It’s much more useful for them to stay and allow those sick creatures to expose their moral and psychological pathologies in their own words…

  • Pete Mangum

    And you – of course – don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Sterling revealed GOVERNMENT CRIMINALITY. If you had even the slightest scintilla of knowledge of this subject, you’d know this, instead of sounding like Bill O’Reilly.

  • Police State

    “Andino’s” insider knowledge reads like its immaculately sourced from the Alex Jones’ website. And he’s a racist, so you may as well argue with used cat litter. https://disqus.com/by/andinomining/ But on one point, he’s not wrong. Manning and Sterling, and anyone else who intentionally breaks classification have to be sanctioned. Manning and Sterling belong in jail and Snowden belongs in jail with them. Whatever the justification, whatever the skullduggery you’ve uncovered, morality may demand you act, but you will and must bear the consequences. You work in the intelligence community, you know the rules and why they are there, and you know however noble you think your cause, you will be sanctioned if you’re discovered breaking classification. Yes, the channels for internal resolution are weak and ineffective. Just like a corporate HR department, the IG is there to cover management’s ass. Yes, every temporary occupant of the Whitehouse can and will misuse the intelligence agencies, or at least individuals within it for their own sometimes nefarious purposes. But you can’t have a covert service at all if you tolerate leakers. People in the community are often as pissed off about what at times goes on as anyone, but they also know the potential consequences of breaking classification. Loyal people that work for us could have been killed over the kind of shit Manning revealed, for example, and all because the Army wouldn’t pay for his gender change? Because his co-workers teased him? The diplomatic cables he leaked contained names of Afghan tribal leaders cooperating with us. He had no a priori way to know Wikileaks would have the sense to redact that information. His actions were criminal, childish and dangerous, and prison is the consequence. Leakers cannot be tolerated for everyone’s sake. And I have to say, the notion that anyone would bother framing Sterling for making a race disparity complaint at CIA really is beyond laughable today, straight out of a Bourne novel. If they wanted him gone they’d just fire him. It’s not hard to do.

  • kevinzeese

    You are right about the obviously racist comments of “Andino” — that is why I did not bother arguing with him, just pointed out he had exposed himself and everyone will ignore him.

    As to whistleblowers being prosecuted, that is a sure recipe for serious law breaking by the US military and intelligence agencies. They commit war crimes in overseas and in Guantanamo and those need to be exposed if the US is going to become a country of laws that obeys international law. People who expose these crimes should not be sent to prison. There needs to be a process put in place that protects whislteblowers and it needs to be applied to people like Manning, Snowden and Sterling. It is a disgrace that people who expose crime are treated like criminals. And, the same is true of intelligence agencies. They are sweeping up all telephone, email and other Internet information they can. If this is not a violation of the search and seizure clauses of the Fourth Amendment than we should stop pretending we have any rights against illegal searches and seizures. Other former high level NSA officials have left the agency and have shown how the NSA could get the information they need with surveillance of every person in the United States. The NSA decided to violate all of our privacy rights rather than to be targetted in their searches. Snowden should not be facing prosecution, he should be facing the highest honors the United States gives to citizens. It is a disgrace that he is threatened rather than applauded for exposing illegal activity and mass surveillance by NSA.

  • Police State

    It’s absolutely true that the whistle-blower provisions for the intelligence community are way too thin. But let’s be clear. No whistle-blower protection can or should shield someone from breaching classification. You go to the agency IG, you’re protected. That protection can and should include the House and Senate Intelligence committees, but in these cases it would not have helped because both already knew everything and were fine with it. No whistle-blower protection will ever be passed protecting someone who breaks classification by going public. It can’t be. What court had declared data mining a violation of the 4th Amendment? How could it be? Search and Seizure as the framers wrote was to prevent the government ransacking your home, not intercepting your overseas phone call. PRISM certainly violated FISA, but the courts hadn’t yet faced a president asserting military authority in wartime as a basis for ignoring FISA. And in any case, by that time the FISA court in all its existence had questioned 11 wiretap applicatitions and approved over 12,000. It was and is a rubber stamp that typically just adds two hours to the process, and now not even that. Now you can tap and go to the court afterward because of exigent circumstances. So who gets to decide what the government is doing is wrong absent a court finding??? Any private contractor of the more than ten thousand out there with clearances? Who gets to say whether or not what they did is justified? A public opinion poll? We are a nation of laws. Breaking classification is a crime under those laws. Snowden didn’t do it to save lives. He did because he’s a narcissist seeking attention, who fled to a hostile foreign power rather than make his case in court. And the craziest part to me, is everything he revealed except the Powerpoint slides themselves were in the public domain. I certainly knew everything. I haven’t held a TSSI clearance in almost 40 years, but I read. Either no one noticed or gave a damn if they did, as everyone was freaked out about terrorists and ready to sell their mother on the street to be safe. And how did most Americans react when they learned? Complete ambivalence. How many have you heard say, “I don’t care. I don’t have anything to hide anyway.” As a Rhodesian friend likes to say, “That accomplished fuck all. ” But if Manning’s leaks had been published unredacted, dozens of Afghans who were cooperating with our efforts there would certainly have been targeted along with their villages, and he doesn’t get to do that because he’s pissed off he has a penis! SO, while I totally get your indignation over violation of privacy and I share it, while I totally agree that something needs to be done, I maintain you don’t stop lawbreaking by breaking the law. You just discredit yourself from the outset and bring trouble on your friends and family, and in some cases, innocent third parties suffer for your sense of personal outrage. It can’t be allowed.

  • kevinzeese

    As Thomas Drake found out – there are no protections for whistleblowers in intlligence. The IG does not protect you. In fact, going to the IG will probably put you under survellance and get you prosecuted.

    I also disagree that the Fourth Amendment does not protect your phone and online communications. If that is the case the Fourth Amendment is so limited to be worthless in this modern age.

    I think it is the responsibility of people in intelligence and in the military to tell the truth when they see crimes. They can try, in very careful ways, to go through the system — as both Snowden and Manning tried. But, their first loyalty is not to DoD, NSA or the CIA. Their duty is to uphold the Constitution. But, they better get some legal advice for doing the righ thing because the US has become too corrupt, too in violation of the law to allow the truth to come out about their illegal actions.

  • James Fenton III

    Secrecy was intended to save lives, not hide corruption. Americans want to believe their Government has their best interests in mind, but that’s not what is going on.
    Government exists to serve citizens, not the other way around.
    Now I see how thing’s really are, citizens are being used to finance corruption within Government, and anyone with the courage to speak out is silenced.
    Dead men tell no tales, without medical treatment this will become a death sentence. Death for trying to expose corruption is simply murder, in my opinion.
    It seems our Government has turned upon it’s citizens, that’s not what makes America great, it’s what makes America weak.

  • Aquifer

    Wait, if Snowden’s info was already in the “public domain”, why should he be prosecuted?

  • Aquifer

    That’s the problem, Dr. Flowers, some folks don’t consider some other folks “human” …

  • Aquifer

    So you are an example of folks who work in or with the CIA – another reason to do away with it, IMO ….