Today, Feb. 28, CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou will report to the Federal Correctional Institute in Loretto, Pennsylvania, to begin a 30-month prison term. Kiriakou's attorney, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, and NSA whistleblower Tom Drake (who was also charged under the Espionage Act) will accompany Kiriakou to the facility, where he is expected to report by 12:00 p.m.
Initially, the Obama administration charged Kiriakou with violating the Espionage Act. The Obama Justice Department has indicted six whistleblowers under the Act – more than all past administrations combined. Late last year, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. In exchange, prosecutors dropped all other charges.
Kiriakou is the sole CIA officer to face jail time for any action involving the federal government's torture program. Ironically, Kiriakou, the whistleblower on the program, will go to prison, while the agents who implemented it will not. (More on Kiriakou below.)
Since his ordeal became public, Kiriakou has inspired a groundswell of support across the country from civil rights activists and concerned citizens. Many are contributing to the John Kiriakou Support Fund, established to mitigate the financial hardship his family is experiencing. Last month, prominent artist Robert Shetterley honored Kiriakou with a portrait, painted as part of a series focused on truth-telling Americans. In addition, Kiriakou received the 2012 Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage in November 2012. Currently, he is one of the subjects of an Academy Award-nominated documentarian's upcoming film on the mistreatment of intelligence whistleblowers. Today and throughout Kiriakou's imprisonment, GAP and its supporters will defend his cause on social media with regular updates.
As Kiriakou's attorney, Radack stated: "The people who ordered the torture, the lawyers who justified it, the people who carried it out, and those who destroyed the videotapes of it – none of them are being held accountable. The only person going to jail in connection with this is the person who blew the whistle on it. In fact, if John had actually tortured someone, I don't think he would be going to jail."
Radack represents Kiriakou on whistleblower related matters. She is available for comment today regarding aspects of Kiriakou's case, his incarceration, and the criminalization of whistleblowers.
Kiriakou is a CIA veteran who headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan after 9/11, organized the team operation that captured suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, and refused to be trained in torture interrogation tactics. In December 2007, Kiriakou gave an on-camera interview to ABC News in which he disclosed that Zubaydah was "waterboarded" and that "waterboarding" was torture – making him the first CIA officer to publicly label the action as torture. His interview also helped expose the CIA's torture program as policy, rather than the actions of a few rogue agents.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.