John Kiriakou spent 23 months in federal prison after he spoke out about CIA torture. (Cliff Owen / AP)

On this week’s “Informed Rant,” Joshua Scheer speaks with 15-year CIA veteran and whistleblower John Kiriakou about the U.S. intelligence establishment and its claims that hackers interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections at the behest of the Russian government.

Kiriakou discusses President-Elect Trump’s refusal to receive daily intelligence briefings, the relationship between the CIA and the White House and how it may change under Trump, and the condition of fellow CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

Lastly, Kiriakou talks about his new book, “Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison.”

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

Rushed transcript:

Joshua Scheer: My guest right now is John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower, author of three books, one that is available for pre-order that we will discuss, “Doing Time Like a Spy,” and we’re discussing, obviously, intelligent briefing, Russian hacks, and I want to talk about Jeffrey Sterling, another CIA whistleblower who is still in prison. Thank you for joining me.

John Kiriakou: Oh, very happy to be with you.

Scheer: Let’s start obviously with the CIA and there’s been anonymous sources in the Washington Post, I’m sure you followed the story. Today, there’s discussion of Vladimir Putin being involved in hacking our US election. What do you make of all this?

Kiriakou: Honestly, in my gut, this just feels like a red herring to me. First of all, nobody has really defined what hacking means. Are the Russian being accused of having hacked in the voting machines to steal the election? I’ve not seen that yet. Have they been accused of hacking emails? Yes, but if so, what was the fallout? I mean, this is something that the big powers do to each other all the time, and God knows the United States has a very long history, a rich history of interfering in the elections of other countries. I’m not really sure what the outrage is. To your first point, I’m not sure why we should really care. This is just something that the KGB does to the United States and that the CIA does to the Russians, and it’s just one of those dirty little poorly kept secrets and it has been for decades. I’m just not getting the outrage.

Scheer: It’s very interesting, yeah. This is obviously causing, like many of the issues of this last presidential election causing a divide within the Liberal community. A lot of Liberals, surprisingly enough, have defended the CIA.

Kiriakou: Right.

Scheer: I’m sure, for them, it’s strange ground. Strangely, in the Washington Post this October, same paper that had these allegations from the CIA that broke the story, talks about that, the long history of CIA involvement in elections. I mean, certainly off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Iran the ’54 coup in Guatemala, Vietnam, and the list goes on and on. I mean, yeah, you’re part of this organization. You’re a whistleblower. You blew the whistle on the torture program, and every morning, when I read these stories, the first thing that comes to my mind is certainly the movies that have been about the CIA, but certainly is the torture program that you exposed and involvement in elections and gathering information and undermining, even if not involved, undermining foreign interests for US power, right?

Kiriakou: Yeah, and when you look back through history, you can see that even where the CIA, I’m going to use the word in quotation marks, “successfully” influenced foreign elections, almost uniformly, those have turned out to be disasters over the long term. We still had never recovered. At least our policy has never recovered from the Mossadegh overthrow in the Iran in the 1950s. Look at Latin America, it’s still a mess, largely because what the CIA has done there over the years, even in Greece where the CIA, it wasn’t an election, but the CIA supported the overthrow of the Greek government in 1967 by a military junta. Even in Greece, people still hate and distrust the United States because of that. It’s like the CIA does these kinds of things, they carry out these kinds of covert action operations without any thought to long-term policy, and like I said, uniformly, the policy has turned out to be a disaster.

Scheer: I want to get into something, because obviously this is the Washington Post and people have written about this, about Philip Graham’s involvement in the CIA Operation Mockingbird, talking about the use of journalist, Jason Leopold, who we both know wrote about this a few months ago for VICE News, about Leon Panetta getting information into mainstream media into popular shows certainly about the CIA or other intelligence information. There’s a long storied history of the combination of the press. There was a great piece by Philip Giraldi. This is before a lot of this Putin stuff had come out, before the CIA allegations, but discussing his role and a member of the CIA placing fake news articles across the world.

You take all these things into consideration, is it just some people can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump despite not winning the popular vote by millions is the president? Is that really what you think, it comes down to? I mean, certainly China has hacked us and all of this, and I’ve had Malcolm Nance on, who wrote the book about hacking our election. Certainly, this malfeasance shouldn’t go uninvestigated, but when you’re talking about anonymous sources … As you pointed out, I mean, this is a very confusing time for a lot of people. Do you even get what it is, this red herring with the CIA and Putin?

Kiriakou: I think that’s a part of it. I think the issue is deeper, but first let’s talk about the Washington Post. It’s funny to me that the Washington Post and elements of the Democratic Party have flipped sides, flipped positions with the conservative movement in this country. The Washington Post, for example, last week, listing websites that they’re accusing of being Russian influenced without any proof at all. That bothered me very much. In fact, several are websites that I write for regularly, including Truthdig. I happen to know the proprietors of Truthdig and I know that they’re not Russian agents. That was very disappointing to me.

I would also say that Donald Trump aside, I have found that the Washington Post has made a very dramatic move to the right over the last couple of years. Fred Hiatt, the editor of the editorial page is a well-known conservative and ideologue here in Washington, and he has moved the editorial page pretty solidly to the right. Now, they happen to not like Donald Trump, and because they don’t like Donald Trump, they have taken this misinformation of disinformation that’s been handed to them by the White House, and presumably from the CIA originally, and they just publish it as fact.

You mentioned this report that came out the other day citing anonymous sources or unnamed administration officials or unnamed intelligence officials. Well, my god, if you’re going to accuse a major presidential campaign, and indeed the president-elect of being in the pay of the Russians or being a dupe of the Russians, then show us the evidence. I pointed out in an article just a couple of days ago, and by the way, it was illegal to leak that report to the Washington Post. That meets the Obama administration’s definition of espionage. See, you can’t have it both ways.Scheer: Certainly, you would know about the Obama administration’s dealings with espionage and the double standard. My guest is John Kiriakou. You could find his work at He’s written a number of books, three books. The one that’s available now is “Doing Time Like a Spy,” about the CIA and about his time in prison. I want to ask you a question about the CIA because there’s a lot of talk of the Koch brothers, their role in the Senate now. Mike Pence is really running government. We kind of know that.

What I think what a lot of people can understand is happening, Donald Trump is looking at this as a certain kind of job, and the Koch brothers have long disdain for the CIA and the FBI. How much of this could be protectionist? Certainly, the Trump administration has made dangerous picks for certain cabinet positions, the EPA. A lot of the guys who he’s picking don’t even like the agencies they’re being task to run. Is this something where the CIA might be afraid of what Trump might do to the CIA?

Kiriakou: Yeah. You know Josh, I think that’s a very important point, and I think the answer is yes. I still stay in touch with a lot of CIA people, and just across the board, their opinion is that this is bad. I think most Americans don’t realize how bad this is, if you’re in the CIA, because for the first time, really, since John Kennedy was president, you have a president-elect who just simply doesn’t trust the organization.

Now, Kennedy famously wanted to break up the CIA. Trump hasn’t said anything like that, but ignoring the CIA and its analysis is just about as bad if you’re on the inside. I think the CIA now is flailing around and reacting or at least trying to react to Trump’s position on them, and they don’t know where to go. I mean, if the president won’t see you in the morning and won’t read your publication and won’t let you brief him on what operations you want to run, then you’re out of luck. You’ve been marginalized, and the CIA has never been marginalized. This is something that’s quite new for them.

Scheer: Yeah. I want to ask another thing, because Michael “Mad Dog” Flynn, for those who don’t know, is the President-elect Trump’s nominee for Defense Secretary, and this is a man, he like brawling and killing the animal and battle in everything else. To be fair, this quote is from last year, so it’s not from this particular runabout with the CIA, but he talked about, basically, the CIA is no longer working for the American people, that it’s a wing of the Obama administration.

I have read that elsewhere, the CIA tends to go with the people who are in power, I guess, to maintain their power, but we’ve seen this in this election. James Comey in the FBI being very anti-Obama, anti-Hillary leaked information saying that they wanted Trump to win. They talked about their email issue and the CIA. What is the political role of the CIA for those who may not know? I mean, when you were in the CIA, I mean, you heard things like you’re very astute students of politics, but what is the role of the CIA in terms of the current administration, and then, as we just discussed, the incoming administration?

Kiriakou: You know what? Let me go back a little further than that. When I first joined the CIA in 1990, I just kept my politics to myself and I just assumed was a Conservative Republican. Then on Election Day 1992, my branch chief asked our little group of, I guess, it was eight people who we were voting for, for president that day. He said, “I know I’m not supposed to ask, but I’m just curious. Who are you voting for?” It was three for Bush, three for Clinton, and two for Perot. I remember thinking, “Wow, I guess I’m not the only Liberal at the CIA.”

What I learned was that you just said, that the CIA really adapts itself to each administration. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Democrat or Republican. The first thing that the CIA does as an organization is to try to win that person over, to win over that new president, because once you bring that president into the fold, you make him one of the guys, you tell him the cool operations that you’re running, and you show him these special, classified, above top secret reports that you’re preparing, you win him over. Once you’ve done that, he’ll do anything that you want him to do. He’ll raise your budget. He’ll approve risky operations. Anything you want, he’ll do.

The CIA has had a very close relationship with Barack Obama, not just because John Brennan was a campaign official and was Obama’s counter-terrorism czar on the NSC for four years, but also because of Leon Panetta and the personal closeness between Panetta and Obama. Sure, the CIA is very close to Obama personally and to the Obama administration, but it was also very close personally and organizationally to the Bush administration before it.

Scheer: It’s interesting you bring that up because there’s a lot of talk about that. Certainly, you could talk about this personally because of your experience with it, with the Espionage Act and the harshness that Obama has done to whistleblowers is a lot of his relationship with the National Security establishment and his respect or devotion or whatever you want to call it. The use of Espionage Act, the keeping of Gitmo open, the drone warfare, all of these were example of his, again, respect, for a lack of a better word, of the National Intelligence establishment, the apparatus that they got on his good side and they’ve convinced him that the use of … How many times he’s used the Espionage Act against whistleblowers as a good thing?

Kiriakou: Eight so far.

Scheer: Eight, yeah.

Kiriakou: Yeah, and in my own case, we’ve received some documents from the Justice Department in discovery when I was gearing up to defend myself, and one of those was a memo from the CIA to the Justice Department saying, “Charge him with espionage.” The Justice Department responded, “He hasn’t committed espionage,” and then the CIA responded back, “Charge him anyway and make him defend himself.” That’s exactly what they did. It’s because of the tone set by the Obama White House, it’s the policy set by the administration to target whistleblowers and to use the Espionage Act to clamp down on defense and to make sure that would-be whistleblowers decide in the end to keep their mouth shut.

Scheer: I want to let our listeners know we are speaking with CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou. You can find his work at or across the internet, and his third book that is coming out that you could pre-order now is “Doing Time Like a Spy” about his time in prison and how the CIA, I guess, inadvertently trained you to take on that harrowing experience.

Kiriakou: They did indeed. I’m calling it “Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison,” and really, that’s what they did. I took these 20 life lessons that I learned in CIA training and applied them to life in prison from my very first day there, just to make sure that I ensured my own safety and remained at the top of the social heap.

Scheer: We’re definitely going to want to talk about that. We’re also going to talk about Jeffrey Sterling who is another whistleblower who is still in prison. I believe he is the, at his time, was the fifth person used in history the Espionage Act by President Obama. I want to talk about this intelligence briefing because the president-elect said on Fox News this Sunday, he’s a pretty smart guy. We’ve discussed it in brief.

I want to let our listeners know what this president intelligence checklist was. It started with Kennedy in ’61. It was typewritten. It’s stamped for president only. It has gone through, obviously, technological innovation. Obama gets it on an iPad, and Trump has kind of said, “I’ll get it when anything is new. It’ll go through Mike Pence. It’ll go through my generals.” He said, this is his quote, “If something should change from this point, immediately call me. I’m available at one-minute’s notice, but eight years, I don’t need that. If something should change, let us know.” Talk about this, because I’m sure you’ve been involved in briefing the president and certainly writing these reports.

Kiriakou: Sure.Scheer: How important are they? Some of the intelligence community, one David Bass, I’m thinking, worked for the-

Kiriakou: Priess.

Scheer: Beast, yes, worked for the State Department, worked for Bush and Clinton as a CIA intelligence officer and talks about how important it is to be informed, and that you’re making these decisions and you want to know all the information. Talk about this a little bit, about the president-elect rejecting these intelligence reports.

Kiriakou: Yeah, we’ve never had a president since Kennedy who just outrightly rejected his intelligence briefings. Bill Clinton famously was not briefed by his PDB briefer. PDB is President’s Daily Brief, but what the briefer would do is that he would go to the White House every morning at 7 a.m. and drop it off, and Clinton would read it at his leisure. He was only briefed in person twice during his presidency, but Gore was briefed six days a week. Clinton read the briefing later in the day, and so he was informed.

Now, each day’s PDB is specifically tailored to the president and to his interests, and so what Trump is reading right now, or what Trump would be reading if he were being briefed is really Obama’s briefing. Obama has been steeped in these issues for eight years. I can see how they might seem a little too tactical, too detailed for Trump, but that’s not just what Trump said. He didn’t say they were too detailed and too tactical. He said he was a smart guy already and he didn’t need to be briefed. That’s a mistake, unless he is going to just wholesale turnover foreign and intelligence policy to Mike Pence. If Mike Pence is going to be the de facto president on these issues, then okay, I guess there is really no reason to brief Trump. If Trump is going to still have the final word on foreign defense and intelligence policy, I think this is a big mistake.

Scheer: Yeah, go on on that a little bit. Obviously, Mike Pence, this guy … Trump is acting as if this is not even a job. This is something where it’s one of the many things he will be doing, certainly has given Pence a lot of power, which is scary. Jeremy Scahill has written about this de facto Christian fascist in power. There has been others who have written about that. What do you make of this? I mean, you’ve obviously followed politics a long time. Certainly, we’ve talked about this earlier in the interview, the CIA is probably scared about this, but is to be expected both on … Obviously, we all have other people on to talk about, the EPA.

We’re talking about scared agencies. The EPA right now is … The Department of Energy, I’m sorry, is hiding people’s names who have worked on climate science. They’re not codifying the data they have gathered over a number of years to try to say that US States like California saying they’re going on alone on immigration, on climate change. I mean, this is a really tumultuous time for everybody. I mean, we talked about it a little bit earlier, but I can’t imagine that this is … I mean, this must be the most experience you’ve ever seen, right?

Kiriakou: Yeah, I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’ve been close to several presidents from my CIA time. Even my wife was a senior CIA officer and has been even closer in some cases to presidents than have, and he’s never seen anything like this either. I had dinner with a great friend of mine on Saturday night. He was my first boss at the CIA, and he goes back to the Carter administration, and he was of the opinion that this is utterly unprecedented. What makes is so dangerous is that this is not a weak president giving a strong president the authority to handle intelligence policy. This is a strongman who has surrounded himself with generals who is giving a weak vice president the authority to lead intelligence policy.

He said, “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” and he feared that the only time the American people are going to understand what a terrible mistake this is, is when we’re the victims of a terrorist attack on American soil, and people are going to want to know why the president wasn’t up on this, why the president didn’t order countermeasures, why the president dropped the ball. I fear that’s the direction we’re going in.

Scheer: Well, it’s a scary time to be an American, obviously. I want to let our listener know we’re speaking with John Kiriakou. We’re going to have him about Jeffrey Sterling and his book. I just want to take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

My guest is John Kiriakou. He is a CIA whistleblower. He is a author. His third book is “Doing Time Like a Spy.” Before we get into the book, because I do want to talk about the book a little bit, but I want to talk about Jeffrey Sterling. For those who don’t know, Peter Maas, for The Intercept, wrote a piece last October, posted along with this on SoundCloud, which is really remarkable about Jeffrey’s life, but talk about Jeffrey a little bit. This was someone who James Risen wrote a book called State of War. There was a mention of Operation Merlin. Now, he’s doing time. He’s still in prison and he’s not in good health, right?

Kiriakou: He’s not in good health. First, just real quickly about his case, as you did, I followed Jeffrey’s case very, very closely, day-to-day, blow-by-blow. I think that the government charged Jeffrey … He was charged with seven counts of espionage and two counts of thefts of government property, with the property being the information. He stole it in his head. I think they charged him with those crimes. In the Eastern District of Virginia, despite the fact that Jeffrey was living in Saint Louis at the time and Jim Risen was living in Maryland and working in Washington, DC. They charged Jeffrey in Alexandria, Virginia because the Eastern District of Virginia is known as the Espionage Court, and no national security defendant has ever won a case there. The fix was in from the beginning.

If you read the transcripts or even the reports about the trial, and Jeffrey did go to trial, because he believed that once he could get in front of the jury, the jury would see how ridiculous this whole case was. In the Eastern District of Virginia, juries are made up of current and former FBI, CIA, DOD, Homeland Security, intelligence contractors. They would convict a baloney sandwich. Jeffrey really never had a chance being tried in the Easter District of Virginia.

The government asked for, I believe it was 20 years in prison. Jeffrey’s attorneys told him to be prepared to get as much as 45 years in prison, but serendipitously, Jeffrey’s sentencing was scheduled for the day after David Petraeus’ sentencing. David Petraeus got a sweetheart deal for committing major crimes. He outed the names of 10 covert operatives. He gave his girlfriend the presidential black books with highly classified information in them. The judge said that in good conscience, after Petraeus got 18 months of unsupervised probation, she couldn’t give Jeffrey 24 years in prison, and she gave him what she called Kiriakou plus 12 months. I got 30 months. Jeffrey got 42 months.

He’s actually going to be released in November and sent to a halfway house. He’ll likely only be in that halfway house for a matter of hours before being transferred to house arrest, but his health is so bad that he and his wife Holly are genuinely worried that he’s not going to live for 11 more months until his release date in November. He’s already had one heart attack in prison. He’s tested positive for the protein, I think it’s called troponin that the body produces when it has a heart attack. He was never treated. He was only given beta-blockers four weeks after the fact. He’s very weak. He has a heart arrhythmia, and the Bureau of Prisons is just refusing to treat him, not just are they refusing to treat him, they’re refusing to even allow his transfer to a nearby hospital for tests, not even shackled and bound. They won’t even let him go for tests. He’s got some real worries.Scheer: Yeah. It’s really important to know that this, again, is a whistleblower who talked about Operation Merlin. This is not giving away troop movements. This was about a program under Clinton and endorsed by Bush giving false information to Iran about how to build a nuclear weapon, but it turned out, because of the fact they have smart people over there that they actually were able to figure out it was not, and then it accelerated the program. I mean, that’s the gist of why he’s serving 42 months in prison, right?

Kiriakou: Yeah, and to make matters worse, they convicted Jeffrey based solely on metadata. He had exchanged 52 telephone calls over the course of several years with Jim Risen, but the reason that he exchanged those phone calls with Risen is that Risen had been writing a long article about Jeffrey’s lawsuit against the CIA for racial discrimination. They refused to send him overseas because they said that, and this was a quote, “A big black guy speaking Persian would stand out,” and his response to his boss was, “When did you realize I was black?” He ended up not being sent overseas. He filed a complained against the agency. They trashed him in his performance evaluation, and he resigned. After he resigned, he filed this suit. Risen was covering the suit for the New York Times, and so it stands to reason that they were speaking on a regular basis.

Now, the suit was dismissed with prejudice by the Eastern District of Virginia on national security grounds, so he never got his day in court. Then the CIA went to the Justice Department and said that they thought Jeffrey was the source of the leak to Risen. Well, no multiple Pulitzer Prize winning journalist is going to use one person to write a book about an intelligence operation. Risen himself has said has said that he spoke with dozens of former and current domestic and foreign intelligence officers for that book, but the government only went after Jeffrey. They didn’t go after anybody else. There were no emails between them. There were no recordings between them. All we knew was that they had exchanged 52 phone calls over the course of, I think it was four years, and that was enough to convict him in the Eastern District.

Scheer: Again, the backstory on Jeffrey is pretty amazing, and there is a piece that will be attached to this on SoundCloud, and I posted it a couple of times, but Peter Maas from The Intercept wrote a really wonderful piece about that, about racial discrimination, his life. He has clips that I’ll probably try to intersplice, and certainly also, after he left the CIA, he went into investigating medical fraud and to save the American people, I believe, upwards of $40, $50 million.

Kiriakou: Oh yeah.

Scheer: Yeah.

Kiriakou: In fact, he was honored by Blue Cross Blue Shield for the millions and millions of dollars that he saved in uncovering medical fraud.

Scheer: This man is imprisoned. I want to know what we can do John. I can’t do a call to action, but certainly there are thing that people can do if they hear about this case. Is there anything that we can do for Jeffrey?

Kiriakou: Yeah, there is. His wife, Holly, has been really, really diligent and great about gathering support. What people have done in the past is they’ve called the prison and ask the warden to allow Jeffrey to go to a hospital for medical treatment. That didn’t work. One of the things that I think we can all do now that does seem to be working in that the prison has given a little bit is go to our elected representatives and ask them to inquire as to his well-being. Holly has spoken with Senator Bennet’s office in Colorado, and Senator Bennet’s office has actually been good about pushing the BOP to do something for the guy. It was only after this inquiry from Bennet’s office that Jeffrey was prescribed beta-blockers in the first place.

Scheer: Wow.

Kiriakou: That would be very helpful.

Scheer: Yeah. Also, I mean, again, this not a call to action, but this is a questioning as a journalist. You sit as David Petraeus who is doing no time. He had asked his probation officer. He was considered for Secretary of State. He’s been considered for Cabinet position, and here you have someone who saved American people millions of dollars and everything, and John, obviously. My guest is John Kiriakou, CIA whistleblower, who now that you have a whole thing named after you, the John Kiriakou sentence. The fact is these guys are doing this time, it’s pretty haphazard. It’s disgusting, really, because-

Kiriakou: It is.

Scheer: Yeah.

Kiriakou: You see a trial … Not a trial, you see a sentencing like Petraeus’. Now, all the rest of us were charged in the Eastern District of Virginia. Petraeus was charged in the Western District of North Carolina. When the judge finished his sentencing, the judge came down from the bench to shake his hand and thank him for his service to the American people. I mean, Judge Leonie Brinkema in EDVA, she certainly didn’t come down from the bench. What she said was, “Mr. Kiriakou, if I could have, I would’ve given you 10 years.” That’s what she said to me. I didn’t get that kind of treatment in court.

Scheer: I want to let our listeners know we’re speaking with John Kiriakou. He’s the author of three books. You can find more at He writes for Reader Supported News among many other different sites, including Truthdig. For the last, maybe, five minutes here, I want to talk about your book, because you can pre-order it now, but it’s “Doing Time Like a Spy.” Certainly, this is something I just was having conversation with my father, Robert Scheer, because one of the Truthdig people was arrested and he’s talked about his time being arrested is that you really don’t know how you’re going to react until it happens.

Kiriakou: Yeah.Scheer: Talk about that a little bit and how CIA trained you and helped you in this situation.

Kiriakou: Right. When you first arrive in prison, you’re in a state of shock. You don’t even realize that you’re in shock until weeks or maybe even months later. I was in prison for about two hours. The only thing that any of the guards had said to me while I was being processed was that if somebody came into my cell uninvited, that was an act of aggression, and I was going to have to defend my territory. I thought, “My god, I haven’t even been here one hour and now I’m going to have to fight somebody and probably going to get my butt kicked,” but I took in on board.

A couple of hours later two Aryans just walk right into my room, and I jumped up and I put up my fists and I said, “What do you want?” One of them said, “Are you the CIA guy?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Are you a fag?” I said, “No.” Are you a rat? I said, “No.” He said, “Are you a chomo?” I said, “I don’t know what that word means.” Like I’m stupid, he said, “Chomo, child molester. Are you a child molester?” I said, “No, I’m not a child molester.” He said, “Okay, you can sit with us in the cafeteria then.” I thought, “Oh, well, okay, I guess I’m with the Aryans now.”

What I did was, to make a long story short, I came up with these … Looking back on my career, I came up with these 20 rules and decided to apply these rules to prison, because prison, there was no way prison was going to be worse than living in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Iraq or someplace like that. God knows I’ve been through rougher times than prison, so I started things down like, “Recruit spies to steal secrets,” right? That was … The CIA, rule number one, recruit spies to steal secrets. I didn’t need to steal secrets, but maybe I needed somebody to steal a couple of hard boiled eggs for me. That was one.

Another one was everybody is working for somebody, which is true. They’re working for themselves. They’re working for the cops. They’re working for a gang leader. In the event of violence, seek and utilize available cover. That’s the first thing they teach you in weapons training at the CIA. Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter accusations. I actually used these rules every day that I was in prison, and they really did keep me safe.

Scheer: You could read all about those rules in the new book, “Doing Time Like a Spy.” Again, my guest has been John Kiriakou. I would love to talk to you. The next time we’re going to talk about Yemen and Saudi Arabia, because I know there’s a lot of issues there certainly with your time and certainly what’s going on there right now, but again, John Kiriakou. You could find his work at, and you could pre-order the book “Doing Time Like a Spy,” how those 20 rules helped him survive prison. Thank you so much for joining me.

Kiriakou: Very, very happy to do it. Good to talk to you again.

Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.