U.S. District judge – Leonie Brinkema – ruled in an Alexandria, VA courtroom that the trial against former CIA employee John Kiriakou for accusations of leaking classified information to the press is moving forward. One of the biggest taint in American modern history – and there are several – is the decision by those in the Bush administration to torture people held captive. I do not care if they were regarded as POW’s which would receive basic humane treatment under the binding Geneva Convention Treaty signed by the United States or whether we refer to those held captive as detainees … they’re still held captive … they’re still our prisoners.
So – when President Obama announced in 2009 that he was not going to prosecute those responsible for torturing detainees nor would he push for criminal prosecution of those who were knowledgeable and approved of these illegal torture programs … I was disappointed. Despite my disappointment – I also understood the country was dealing with an economic crisis and any potential criminal prosecutions of former Bush officials could be perceived as political in nature. It is dangerous precedent to criminally prosecute a former administration even for war crimes.
I understood that people in the intelligence community would worry about following direction from their president if he allowed it to become an overtly political act; I understood that people in the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community generally have the interests of the American people at heart even if the military intelligence complex is a sprawling clusterfuck. Bottom line – they’re mostly made up of good people trying to do good things but like every organization …. they sometimes do very bad things or are led by very bad people. After all – morality really doesn’t come into play; morality doesn’t really exist in the intel community.
Well … fast forward – we know that torture happened on multiple occasions. We know that there were tapes of those torture sessions which were ordered to be destroyed by the Bush administration. We know that the Vice President Dick Cheney advocated for and was aware of these war crimes. <rant>We know that Dick Cheney is a real dick as well; I can’t properly or legally articulate my feelings regarding Dick Cheney. </rant> We know that none of the people who tortured, covered up the torture, approved the torture … NOBODY went to jail or was prosecuted because America … is moving FORWARD on the issue. Got it?
Except – the Obama administration is prosecuting one guy … the guy whom they accuse of telling the world about the war crimes.
The AP reports HERE:
A judge ruled Friday that prosecutors may move forward with their case against a former CIA officer accused of leaking covert operatives’ names to journalists, rejecting a claim the charges were lodged to punish him for making public statements that portrayed the spy agency in an unflattering light.
Lawyers for John Kiriakou sought to have most of the charges against him dismissed. They argued in court papers that similar leaks by others have not been the subject of a criminal prosecution.
At Friday’s hearing, though, the judge cut off the argument before it began and ruled that the prosecution would go forward.
Politico writes about the judge’s recent ruling HERE; the judge commented:
However, the judge said it was “common sense” that the information Kiriakou is accused of leaking—the identity of one covert CIA officer and the linkage of another CIA officer to the interrogation program—should be a national secret. “Nobody should be revealing that….there’s no First Amendment right to do that,” Brinkema said.
The NY Times explains what led to his prosecution by the CIA HERE:
In late 2007, Mr. Kiriakou waded into the public debate over the C.I.A.’s use of the suffocation tactic called waterboarding. He gave an interview to ABC News saying it had elicited good information from detainees, but that the country should no longer use the technique because “we’re Americans and we’re better than this.”
Suddenly a controversial figure, he was asked to leave Deloitte, according to several friends and former colleagues. A Deloitte spokeswoman confirmed his employment, but said the firm could not comment further because of a confidentiality policy.
The interview got him trouble in another way. He described Abu Zubaydah as having started cooperating with investigators within seconds of being waterboarded. In fact, according to a document made public in 2009, the C.I.A. waterboarded him 83 times, and Mr. Kiriakou later admitted that he did not personally witness any waterboarding sessions.
Mother Jones explains more detail about what Kiriakou is being charged for HERE:
But there was still the issue of how Sifton identified the people he thought were involved in the interrogations. That’s where Kiriakou comes in: He’s accused of providing the identities of several CIA officers to journalists, one of whom passed information on to a “defense investigator” whose activities match Sifton’s. (The complaint specifically mentions investigators “interviewing” the “defense investigator” and uses the phrase “learned from the defense investigator.”) Here’s the key paragraph of the criminal complaint:
No law or military commission order expressly prohibited defense counsel from providing their clients with the photographic spreads in question under these circumstances. However, the fact that a defense investigator had learned the classified information, including the information necessary to take and/or assemble these photographs, suggested that the information may have been either deliberately or inadvertently disclosed, without authorization, in a manner that ultimately resulted in the defense team’s possession of the classified information.
The CIA didn’t take long to find out about Sifton’s work. In the spring of 2009, some of the photos were discovered in the cell of Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi, an accused Al Qaeda financier and one of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s four co-defendants. The criminal complaint against Kiriakou also indicates that a defense filing in early 2009 contained classified information that the government hadn’t provided to the defense.
Glenn Greenwald digs into Kiriakou’s book and questions why he’s the only person being prosecuted in the sordid affair that is America’s history of torture HERE:
For those wondering why Kiriakou’s disclosures in his book did more than ruffle a few feathers in the intelligence community, here are a few key quotes:
- On Iraq: “The answer to why we’re still in Iraq to this day has almost everything to do with the failures of leadership in 2003 and 2004 and, in some cases, the ascendance of rank deception—deliberate distortions of the facts on the ground.”
- On FBI waste: After raiding a Taliban “embassy” in Pakistan in early 2002, Kiriakou’s colleague “found something interesting and provocative. A file of telephone bills from the Taliban embassy revealed dozens of calls to the United States . . . For ten days leading up to September 11, 2001, the Taliban made 168 calls to America. Then the calls stopped. The file, amazingly, was in English . . . The calls ended on September 10, 2001, and started up again six days later, on September 16.” Years after sending the phone records to the FBI, Kiriakou followed-up and his FBI contact “replied that it was like a scene out of that Indiana Jones movie. The files were still in those [original] boxes, in an FBI storage facility in Maryland . . . What a waste.”
- On CIA’s deception about waterboarding: “Now we know that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied. . . it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the arts of deception even among its own.” (Previously, the CIA told Kiriakou that Zubaydah was waterboarded only once and cracked, which fiction Kiriakou repeated in a television interview because his own agency lied to him.)
- On Torture: “But even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated – not in one case or a thousand or a million. If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. . . . There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security.”
Remember, these are the words of the only person to be criminally prosecuted in connection with the CIA’s torture program. These are the words of the glaring exception to Obama’s mantra of “looking forward, not backward” when Americans demand accountability for torture, extraordinary rendition and illegal domestic spying. These are the words of an Espionage Act defendant—of someone facing 50 years in prison, who the Obama administration will argue in court “intended to harm the United States or assist a foreign nation.”
You can find the official press release FBI as to reasoning for a case HERE.
This is the interview that led to his being prosecuted; based off of this interview – he was suspected of giving classified information out to journalists:
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