Photo: via ABC
It’s hard to tell which is more astounding: that the U.S. government is preparing to jail a CIA whistleblower for “outing” a covert CIA agent — a felony — or that the outed agent is “well known” to be a torturer of profound talent, and horrific capabilities.Prosecutors won a hard fought judgement a few days ago, one which will make their case a whole lot easier.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued the ruling Tuesday that prosecutors will not have to prove John Kirakou intended harm when he alegedly divulged secret information to three journalists, only that he only that “reason to believe” the leak could cause harm.
The distinction is one that puts him considerably closer to serving a long sentence for essentially blowing the whistle on a highly controversial, incredibly opaque process of rendition and “torture.”
The story started when John Kiriakou blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program in 2007 during an interview with ABC. The interview, in which he seemed to defend the technique of waterboarding while simultaneously condemning it as an undeniable form of torture, revealed Kiriakou’s role facilitating the Rendition, Detention, Interrogation (RDI) CIA teams in the case of alleged terrorist Abu Zubaida.
According to a Dana Priest article titled “Wrongful Imprisonment: The Tale Of A CIA Mistake,” RDI is:
Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations … one of the CIA’s own covert prisons — referred to in classified documents as “black sites.”
The checklist for ending up in one of these sites was pretty general, as one counterterrorism official told Priest, “Whatever quality control mechanisms were in play on September 10th were eliminated on September 11th.”
When Zubaida finally got his day in court, sealed legal defence documents contained the names of two covert CIA employees (one an agent, another an asset) involved in Zubaida’s torture — they were dubbed ‘Official A’ and ‘Official B’ in Kariaku’s indictment.
The officials have since been identified, and their names have been posted to Cryptome.
The identity of “Covert Officer A,” which Kiriakou is alleged to have revealed, was a prime torturer in the agency. He allegedly abused and saw to it that detainees were abused. On the other hand, Kiriakou’s “crime” is that he went on television and told the country waterboarding was indeed torture at a moment when the Bush administration did not want that to be part of public discussion.
A former government official with close ties to the case, on condition of anonymity, told Gosztola the CIA was “totally ticked at Kiriakou for acknowledging the use of torture as state policy.” The official said the CIA hoped to make an example out of Kiriaku.
The official also said that the identity of ‘Official A’ was never really that secret, that many members of human rights organisations had found out his name prior to 2008 date of the supposed Kiriakou leak.
These individuals in the human rights community have known that the agent allegedly ensured detainees were “properly rendered and tortured,” according to the source, who alleges they have known he took part in “sadistic acts of horrendous conduct against the detainees” and have engaged in what appears to be a “code of silence” protecting the individual while the Justice Department prosecutes Kiriakou.
So Kiriakou is set to possibly go to jail for as many as 50 years on several federal charges, while meanwhile the outed CIA ‘prime torturer’ is retired and living in Virginia. The Kiriakou case is another example of the Obama administration’s hard line on whistleblowers and leakers.
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