Is John Kiriakou a patriot or a traitor?
Is revealing that your government engages in torture a heroic act or a criminal act?
Kiriakou is a former CIA case officer. In December 2007 he told ABC News that the CIA was torturing and waterboarding prisoners as official U.S. government policy. He also said the president knew about the torture program.
After Kiriakou’s interview, the U.S. Justice Department initiated an investigation that extended over several years. Kiriakou was eventually charged with three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and one count of making a false statement, as a result of the 2007 ABC News interview. To avoid a long prison term, he accepted a plea bargain under which he admitted that he had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Other charges were dropped.
Kiriakou received a sentence of 30 months in Loretto Federal Prison in Pennsylvania. The CIA officers who tortured detainees were never charged. Neither was a CIA executive who destroyed more than 90 videotapes of the torture.
Since torture is a violation of U.S. law, who are the criminals? The people who conceal it or engage in it? Or the people who reveal it?
Kiriakou lost his job and spent $1 million in legal fees defending himself against the case by the U.S. government. Kiriakou was prosecuted to intimidate potential whistleblowers and to prevent future disclosures about CIA interrogation programs.
Kiriakou is now an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies (www.ips-dc.org), and writes and speaks on whistleblower rights, prison reform, torture policy and practices and transparency in government.
Kiriakou has written several books including, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror,” “Letters from Loretto: A Prison Journal” and “Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison.”
Kiriakou will be speaking tonight at 6:30 in Denver at the Alliance Center, 1536 Wynkoop St., and in Boulder Saturday night at 6 at First Methodist Church, 1425 Spruce St. For tickets go to www.kgnu.org.
Come find out why he would speak out against torture again despite the dire consequences to himself.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily