IN THE NEWS
"Kiriakou is the first CIA official to publicly confirm the use of waterboarding and other tactics he describes as torture under the Bush administration. His supporters believe he has been unfairly targeted and punished."
"Alyona Minkovski speaks to John Kiriakou about his upcoming prison time, a first for a CIA officer leaking classified information."
"This ... was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture. And I believe I’m going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture," Kiriakou says. "My oath was to the Constitution. … And to me, torture is unconstitutional."
"I’ve known John Brennan since 1990," Kiriakou says. "I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture."
"I am wearing my conviction as a badge of honor. I am proud that I stood up to our government. I stood up for what I believed was right conviction or no conviction...I am not a criminal. I am a whistleblower. The thing that I blew the whistle on is now the law of the land. Torture is illegal and it’s officially abandoned in our country and I’m proud to have had a role in that…"
"...The secret evidence, resurrected dropped charges, and new 'facts' never charged -- most never heard until yesterday and never seen by the defendant -- should trouble every American regardless of what you think of John Kiriakou."
"John Kiriakou agreed to a plea deal and a reduced jail sentence. But he still insists his only real crime was embarrassing the United States government and revealing its use of torture."
"John Kiriakou will pay the price for a catastrophic error in judgment. But he shouldn’t suffer alone: the Barack Obama administration, too, needs to do a little penance if it hopes to live up to the president’s famous promise to 'usher in a new era of open government.'"
""In my view, the Aaron Swartz prosecution is very typical of the Justice Department's policy of going after people in such a big way that the point is not necessarily to prosecute them, but it is to destroy them personally."
"Kiriakou, 48, is a native of New Castle. He resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 after 15 years. During his service, he helped capture more than 50 terror suspects, including senior al-Qaida member Abu Zubaida in 2002 in Pakistan. . . Kiriakou’s public comments over the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, which produces the sensation of drowning, led to his arrest in January by the FBI on charges of disclosing classified secrets to reporters."
"The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors facing prosecution is former CIA agent John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one may go to jail. And of course, he didn’t torture anyone."
"At the start of his administration, President Obama said he wanted to 'look forward,' not back, on the actions of C.I.A. interrogators. In practice, the administration has chosen to look back selectively, eschewing prosecutions and civil relief for victims while pursuing criminal charges against a former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, on charges he disclosed the identity of other C.I.A. officers who participated in the interrogations."
"What’s worse is the Obama administration’s war against whistle-blowers. The president’s team has set a record for prosecuting leaks to the news media, with six cases to date, more than under all previous presidents combined. Mr. Obama’s Justice Department tried and failed to prosecute a former National Security Agency employee for the alleged leak of information about electronic eavesdropping and 'data mining' that appeared to bypass Constitutional safeguards. The most recent example is that of former CIA officer John Kiriakou, accused of disclosing “classified” information to journalists about the widely known practice of water boarding."
" In a 2007 ABC News interview, Kiriakou became the first person directly involved in the handling of terror suspects to call waterboarding at the CIA's hands what it was -- torture . . . The bitterest irony of the case is that if Kiriakou had actually tortured, rather than talked about it, he almost certainly wouldn’t be in trouble. The torturers and their commanders have no fear because Obama has vowed to “look forward instead of looking backward” when it comes to crimes committed during the post-9/11 period in the name of national security."
"If the Department of Agriculture can talk to reporters about farm subsidies, intelligence employees like Kiriakou should be able to openly discuss policies in the “war on terrorism” so long as they aren’t sharing classified information. The problem is the government has adopted a standard for censorship that involves preventing any conversation on any piece of information related to national security methods or techniques that could be deemed “sensitive,” especially when discussion invites scrutiny or embarrassment."
"This contradictory posture toward national security leaks has exposed the White House to accusations this week that it clamps down on whistleblowing when the disclosures undermine its agenda but eagerly volunteers anonymous "senior administration officials" for interviews when politically expedient."
"We have low-level whistleblowers who exposed serious government corruption and illegality — matters clearly in the public interest — prosecuted and imprisoned with unprecedented aggression by the very same administration that serially leaks far more sensitive national security secrets purely for the President’s political gain."
"The government may have found a way to suppress the flow of news without ruffling the feathers of reporters, but that doesn't absolve the media of their duty to speak out for that flow."
"It should be noted that while Rodriguez, who retired from the CIA in 2008, walks around a free man, John Kiriakou, another former CIA analyst who led the raid to capture Abu Zubaydah, was indicted for violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking information to reporters. Kiriakou happens to believe that waterboarding is a form of torture."
"The government will have to show that Mr. Kiriakou did not simply reveal classified information, but that in doing so he specifically intended to harm the United States or to aid some other foreign country," [The Federation of American Scientists' Steve] Aftergood says. But there's no public evidence that Kiriakou, a 14-year CIA veteran, had any such intention."
"If you committed crimes under the guise of national security and the war on terrorism, you will not be held criminally liable, but if you blow the whistle on crimes, you risk criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act."
"But the prosecution’s biggest challenge, which may well be insurmountable, will be to demonstrate to a jury that Mr. Kiriakou actually intended to harm the United States or to assist a foreign nation by committing an unauthorized disclosure."
"The Espionage Act is supposed to be used against spies. But the Obama Justice Department has used it over and over again against whistleblowers in a purely vindictive manner. In fact, he's used it to bring charges against whistleblowers more often than every other President combined."
"They may well just be punishing Kiriakou for putting them to the trouble of involving journalists and CIPA and exposure of their torture program."
". . . the majority of the recent prosecutions seem to have everything to do with administrative secrecy and very little to do with national security."
"If Mr. Kiriakou gets a jury trial, then witness after witness could explain to the jury that Mr. Kiriakou is being selectively prosecuted, that his leaks are nothing compared to leaks by Obama administration officials and senior CIA bureaucrats. Witness after witness could show the jury that for any secret material published by Mr. Kiriakou, the books of senior CIA bureaucrats contain many times as much."
"Daniel Ellsberg, who provided the secret history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, said he was deeply troubled by the charges. 'The Kiriakou indictment for leaking' the identities of C.I.A. officers involved in a program that many people called torture, he said, 'is particularly disgusting in the context of zero indictments for actually torturing, or for directing torture, or for writing spurious legal justifications for it.'”
"Kiriakou's plight will clearly be but one more battle in a broader war to ensure that government actions and sunshine policies don't go together. By now, there can be little doubt that government retaliation against whistleblowers is not an isolated event, nor even an agency-by-agency practice. The number of cases in play suggests an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things that their government does. How it plays out in court and elsewhere will significantly affect our democracy."