CIA-Torture Whistleblower Latest in 'Americans Who Tell the Truth' Series by Artist Robert Shetterly
(Washington, DC) – Next Wednesday, Jan. 23, CIA/Anti-torture whistleblower and GAP client John Kiriakou will be honored at an event unveiling his portrait, which is the latest in a series by prominent artist Robert Shetterly that features notable truth-tellers from American history. The event will be held in Washington, DC at Busboys & Poets (14th & V location) from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.
This portrait, the newest edition to Shetterly's "Americans Who Tell the Truth" project, will be unveiled just two days prior to Kiriakou's sentencing in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday, Jan. 25 (more below). This portrait series, in the words of the artist, is "dedicated to the belief that a profound sense of citizenship is the only safeguard of democracy and the best defense of our social, economic, and environmental rights." Many prominent whistleblowers have been featured in the series, including Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Serpico, Coleen Rowley, and GAP client Thomas Drake.
Shetterly, Kiriakou and GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack (the subject of a series portrait herself) will speak during the program. Additionally, noted jazz pianist Mary Anne Driscoll will premiere a new composition at the event, based on Kiriakou's words and actions. Light refreshments will be served.
As space is limited, and the event is free and open to the public, it is requested that journalists who wish to attend RSVP to GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated – not in one case, or a thousand, or a million," stated Kiriakou. "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 the 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."
Stated the artist Robert Shetterly, "A state that consistently uses law to subvert justice and to violate human rights has become an enemy of its own defining spirit. It takes great courage to defy the power of such a state and to demand it adhere to its moral imperatives. John Kiriakou has shown that courage in opposing this country's flagrant use of torture and its attempts to justify that use. It is my great honor to add his portrait to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project."
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.
For these and other actions, in January 2011, Kiriakou became the sixth whistleblower charged with violating the Espionage Act by the Obama administration. These six prosecutions are more than all previous presidential administrations combined. Late last year, Kiriakou pled guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in exchange for the government dropping all other charges against him. Kiriakou is now the sole CIA officer who faces jail time for any action involving the federal government's torture program, despite being a whistleblower on it.
Americans Who Tell the Truth is dedicated to the belief that a profound sense of citizenship is the only safeguard of democracy and the best defense of our social, economic, and environmental rights. Through portraits and stories of exemplary American citizens, both historical and contemporary, AWTT teaches the courage to act for the common good. The original portraits and accompanying educational resources and programs promote our country's ideals, illuminate the necessary work of the present, and inspire hope in the future.