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Jun 03 2013

Kiriakou’s Letter From Prison

John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who blew the whistle on the Bush regime’s use of torture on detainees and was then prosecuted by the Obama DOJ, is now in a federal prison in Pennsylvania. And he has written a rather remarkable letter detailing his life in prison and how things operate on the inside.

There are several fascinating details. There is a sizable group of pedophiles in the prison and none of the other inmates will associate with them. They are apparently isolated completely. He also notes the racial divisions within the prison, but that he has gained the respect of all of the different racial, religious and ethnic groups and has had no trouble with them. But the guards are another story. One story he tells is quite disturbing:

The only thing close to a problem that I’ve had has been from the CO’s. When I first arrived, after about four days, I heard an announcement that I was told to dread: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office immediately.” Very quickly, I gave my wife’s phone number to a friend and asked him to call her if for some reason I was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) more commonly known as the hole, or solitary confinement. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but this kind of thing happens all the time.

When I got to the lieutenant’s office, I was ushered into the office of SIS, the Special Investigative Service. This is the prison version of every police department’s detective bureau. I saw on a desk a copy of my book, the Reluctant Spy, as well as DVD copies of all the documentaries I’ve been in. The CO showed me a picture of an Arab. “Do you know this guy,” he asked me. I responded that I had met him a day earlier, but our conversation was limited to “nice to meet you.” Well, the CO said, this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we had met, he called a number in Pakistan, reported the meeting, and was told to kill me. I told the CO that I could kill the guy with my thumb. He’s about 5’4″ and 125 pounds compared to my 6’1″ and 250 pounds. The CO said they were looking to ship him out, so I should stay away from him. But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison? He should be in a maximum. So I asked my Muslim friends to check him out. It turns out that he’s an Iraqi Kurd from Buffalo, NY. He was the imam of a mosque there, which also happened to be the mosque where the “Lackawana 7″ worshipped. (The Lackawana 7 were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.) The FBI pressured him to testify against his parishioners. He refused and got five years for obstruction of justice. The ACLU and several religious freedom groups have rallied to his defense. He had nothing to do with terrorism.

In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the hamhandedness by which the SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we would have spent the rest of our sentences in the SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat.

Sounds like the government is trying to get him either injured, killed or isolated. What other explanation is there for such actions? The whole thing is really quite fascinating to read.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Keep in mind that Obama’s administration has no problem keeping young adults in solitary confinement in federal prison for the awful, awful crime of exercising their 1st and 5th Amendment rights: Read here. The Stranger has done a number of articles on this.

  2. 2
    daemonios

    Thanks for this story. I was unfamiliar with Kiriakou, though I’ve been hearing a lot about Bradely Manning even here in Portugal. Anyway, a couple things that are itching me after reading Kiriakou’s letter:

    - Soon enough half the US population will be serving time for drug-related crimes.

    - Is there any legal recourse against the COs that tried to pit Kiriakou and the imam against each other? Something like attempt to incite murder or assault? At the very least a disciplinary breach of their duties as COs?

  3. 3
    regexp

    Sounds like the government is trying to get him either injured, killed or isolated. What other explanation is there for such actions?

    Another explanation? That’s easy. Being a security guard is mind-boggling dull and they will do anything to spice up the routine. I’ve witnessed drama being manufactured all the time in such situations. Just so something more interesting happens.

  4. 4
    naturalcynic

    Is there any legal recourse against the COs that tried to pit Kiriakou and the imam against each other? Something like attempt to incite murder or assault? At the very least a disciplinary breach of their duties as COs?

    Very doubtful. But you can take a lower your daily dose of naive pills.

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