Photo: via ABC
The ex-CIA officer who blew the whistle on secret rendition and waterboarding programs has pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of revealing the identity of a covert officer, the Justice Department announced.But activists like Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who works for the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, argue that the reason John Kiriakou is facing two and a half years in prison may have more to do with him talking about the CIA’s torture program than confirming the name of one of the agents involved.
Kiriakou, 47, worked as a CIA operative between 1990 and 2004 and took part in operations to capture al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan. In a 2007 interview with ABC he described the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, Interrogation (RDI) teams and the waterboarding on al-Qaeda suspects.
In January Kiriakou was charged with four counts, including the disclosure of the name of the RDI program chief and the role of another CIA employee in classified activities regarding “black sites.”
But a former government official with close ties to the case told Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake that at least 10 individuals in the human rights community and several journalists knew about the chief before Kiriakou confirmed the name—which didn’t become public until last week—to ABC journalist Matthew Cole in August 2008.
The official added that the CIA was “totally ticked at Kiriakou for acknowledging the use of torture as state policy” and hoped to make an example out of him.
Kiriakou is the first person linked to the controversial “enhanced interrogation” program to be prosecuted.
He is the sixth whistleblower to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration, although the two counts under the World War-I era law have been dropped with the plea.
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