John Kiriakou finally out of prison

Former CIA official John Kiriakou has been released from prison and will serve the remainder of his 30-month sentence under house arrest until May. His crime? Revealing the fact that the US tortured prisoners during the Bush-Cheney era. The Obama administration got him to plead guilty they way they usually do, by piling on charges under the Espionage Act, difficult to defend under, so that he faced the prospect of 45 years in jail and millions of dollars in legal fees.

In 2007, Kiriakou publicly confirmed the CIA’s use of waterboarding and revealed that torture was government policy, not the work of a few rogue agents. He later wrote a book highly critical of the CIA’s torture policies. The CIA filed half a dozen unsubstantiated crimes reports against Kiriakou before the Justice Department charged him with violating the Espionage Act. Kiriakou is one of eight people whom the Obama administration has prosecuted under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information, more than all past presidential administrations combined.

Faced with incurring millions of dollars in legal fees and up to 45 years of incarceration, away from his wife and five children, Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one charge, in exchange for a two-and-a-half year sentence. The government dropped all four of the remaining charges, including all of the Espionage Act charges, and Kiriakou entered federal prison on February 28, 2013.

Xeni Jardin adds:

His supporters say that the Obama administration sought to make Kiriakou an example in its crackdown on whistleblowers, and that the father of five children was unfairly punished.

Kiriakou was the first CIA official to publicly confirm the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding.

He posted the news of his release today in the form of a tweet that shows the 50 year old family man hugging his kids.

“Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated–not in one case or a thousand or a million,” Kiriakou previously wrote. “If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable.”

“I may have found myself on the wrong side of government on torture. But I’m on the right side of history. There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security. One of them, I now firmly believe, is torture.”

So the only person to serve any prison time for anything involved with that torture program was someone who revealed that torture was taking place. None of the actual torturers were ever charged.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    This mania Obama has for punishing whistleblowers just flummoxes me, especially when it is crimes of the other party being revealed. How he could think that it is more important to maintain information discipline than it is to reveal criminality in the government? He may be thinking that revealing American torture would interfere with his plans to win over hearts and minds, but surely it is worse to have the info come out anyway (as it always does) and then harshly punish the people who shine the light on it.

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