By Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law

High-profile defenders of John Kiriakou have written President Barack Obama to request that he commute the whistle-blower’s sentence or pardon him.

Kiriakou was charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, allegedly disclosing classified information to members of the news media after speaking out against waterboarding in 2007. He pleaded guilty in October as part of an agreement that would sentence him to 30 months in prison.

Those who have signed the letters in support of Kiriakou are politically varied. Among them are constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, former Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook, former senior official from the departments of State, Defense and National Security Council Morton Halperin, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and retired CIA officer Raymond McGovern. Others include 10 former CIA agents and five professors from Liberty University in Virginia.

“Mr. Kiriakou is a highly decorated, 14-year CIA counterterrorism veteran who has spent his entire adult life in public service,” the letters read. He “is an anti-torture whistleblower who spoke out against torture because he believed it violated his oath to the Constitution. He never tortured anyone, yet he is the only individual to be prosecuted in relation to the torture program of the past decade.

“The interrogators who tortured prisoners, the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, and the CIA officers who destroyed the interrogation tapes,” the signatories say, “have not been held professionally accountable.

“Please, Mr. President,” the letters continue, “do not allow your legacy to be one where only the whistleblower goes to prison.”

The letters go on to cite two previous cases — that of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Samuel L. Morison — that provide precedent, the writers contend, for leniency toward Kiriakou.

In the most recent letter, signatories also argue that Kiriakou’s offense is less damaging than that of Libby’s.

The act “seems much less censorable than Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s disclosure of the CIA’s Valerie Plame to reporter Robert Novak with impunity,” the request reads. “Mr. Kiriakou’s disclosure never was made publicly available, and occasioned no harm to the United States.”

Kiriakou is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

This article was made possible by the Center for Study of Responsive Law.

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