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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Inches From Jail So CIA Can Protect Torture Kingpin Thomas Fletcher

Jesselyn Radack, October 17, 2012

Former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is inches away from pleading away years of his life to jail while the former chief of the CIA headquarters-based RDI (Rendition, Detention, Interrogation) group is sitting pretty enjoying his retirement in Virginia.

As described by Dana Priest, this is how the innocuous-sounding "RDI Program" works:

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 . . . [to] "black sites,"

in countries that torture.

What sort of monster would be responsible for ensuring the execution of the worldwide RDI program, be on the plane shuttling between black sites, and even torture? According to Cryptocomb,

The CIA officer listed as "Officer A" in the John Kiriakou complaint has been revealed to be Thomas Donahue Fletcher.  Born in 1953. Fletcher is currently a resident of Vienna, VA.

The government does not deny "[t]he association of Covert Officer A with the RDI Program," Kiriakou Indictm't P 11. The government just claims it was "classified," though supposedly it's improper to classify a person or program to hide illegality.

Yesterday, Kevin Gosztola of FDL published an explosive piece on how

the CIA is counting on the Justice Department to, at a minimum, convict Kiriakou on the charge of allegedly leaking an agent's identity to not only send a message to other agents but also to continue to protect on of their own.

But did John "out" a CIA agent, whom I would argue was not properly under cover because 1) supposedly the government can't put people undercover shield their war crimes, 2) Mr. Fletcher was only under "nominal cover" (not the deeper "integrated cover" or "non-official cover"), and 3) his name was known (prior to Kiriakou's alleged "outing" in late 2008) by a huge swaths of the human rights community, one of whom is willing to testify to this at Kiriakou's trial.

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) criminalizes, under certain circumstances, the intentional unauthorized disclosure of an agent's identity. It has been dormant most of its life because of its narrow, demanding elements.   Interestingly, Patrick Fitzgerald decided not to pursue Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Richard Armitage, or Karl Rove under the IIPA because he doubted that he could prove there was requisite knowledge that anyone involved in the leak knew Plame was indeed "covert" (she was in NOC status, far deeper cover than Mr. Fletcher) and demonstrate that the leakers knew that the government was taking "affirmative measures" to conceal her identity.

According to Gosztola's article,

Individuals in the human rights community have known that...[Officer A] ensured detainees were "properly rendered and tortured," according to the source, who alleges they have know he took part in "sadistic acts of horrendous conduct against the detainees."

What causes me the most dyspepsia of the soul is that

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 bhe part of the public discussion.

Another one for the history books: John Kiriakou will become the only CIA agent connected with torture to go to jail, and he's the one who refused to commit it and condemned it publicly.  Meanwhile, the people who ordered the torture, the lawyers who justified it, the torturers themselves, and the people who destroyed the videotapes of it are all. . . free and unaccountable.


This post originally appeared on Radack's Daily Kos blog.

Jesselyn Radack is National Security & Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.