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John Kiriakou Becomes First CIA Officer to Face Prison for Classified Leak

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

The former CIA officer who blew the whistle on waterboarding is preparing to serve a 30-month prison sentence for disclosing to a reporter the name of a covert agent previously involved in the government’s torture program.

John Kiriakou claims he did not realize Deuce Martinez was still undercover when he gave his name to Matthew A. Cole, a freelancer then working on a book about a CIA rendition case in Italy that went wrong. The FBI discovered emails Kiriakou sent to Cole while conducting a warranted search of his personal accounts.

Bruce Riedel, a retired veteran CIA officer who led an Afghan war review and turned down an offer to be considered for the position of CIA director in 2009, said that Kiriakou, who worked for him in the 1990s, was “an exceptionally good intelligence officer” who didn’t deserve the prison term.

“To me the irony of this whole thing is, very simply, that he’s going to be the only CIA officer to go to jail over torture,” even though he publicly denounced torture, Riedel said. “It’s deeply ironic under the Democratic president who ended torture.”

Since his indictment last year, Kiriakou has been unable to keep much steady work. A turn as an investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ended before he was charged, and two hedge funds that had him consulting on international security issues dropped him when the charges were filed. Only Liberty University, the conservative Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Va. — which publicly objected to torture on moral grounds — gave him more work in his post teaching intelligence courses.

Kiriakou will be separated from his wife Heather, and kids Max, 8, Kate, 6, and Charlie, 14 months, during his prison term.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The New York Times:

After he was charged last January, his wife, though accused of no wrongdoing, resigned under pressure from her C.I.A. job as a top Iran specialist. The family had to go on food stamps for several months before she got a new job outside the government. To make ends meet, they rented out their spacious Arlington, Va., house and moved to a rented bungalow a third the size with their three young children (he has two older children from his first marriage).

Their financial woes were complicated by Mr. Kiriakou’s legal fees. He said he had paid his defense lawyers more than $100,000 and still owed them $500,000; the specter of additional, bankrupting legal fees, along with the risk of a far longer prison term that could separate him from his wife and children for a decade or more, prompted him to take the plea offer, he said.

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