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Former CIA officer convicted for exposing Operation Merlin




The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, December 11, 2014.
The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, December 11, 2014.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was convicted Monday for leaking classified information about a secret operation to foil Iran’s nuclear program to a New York Times reporter.

Known as “Operation Merlin,” the covert mission tasked a Russian scientist with providing Iran with a deliberately flawed design plan for a nuclear weapon, in the hopes of sabotaging the country’s nuclear program. Sterling was found guilty for giving information about the program to New York Times reporter James Risen, who wrote about it in his 2006 book, “State of War.”

Supporters of Sterling call him a whistleblower, who voiced his concerns about Operation Merlin to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003. But the Justice Department and the C.I.A said Sterling’s motivations weren’t noble, that he was driven by resentment over what he perceived was racial discrimination and his firing by the C.I.A.

Sterling will be sentenced in April.

What is a whistleblower? Should the designation be determined by someone’s motivations? Should Sterling be considered a whistleblower?

Guests:

Matt Apuzzo, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times who’s been covering the case and the trial

Richard Moberly, Professor of Law, University of Nebraska; Co-Editor of “The International Handbook on Whistleblower Research” (2014)