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The Back Story to Kiriakou's Imminent Guilty Plea

Jesselyn Radack, October 23, 2012

A change of plea hearing is set for today at 11:00 am in the Espionage Act case against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Let's be clear, there is one reason, and one reason only that John Kiriakou is taking this plea: for the certainty that he'll be out of jail in 2 1/2 years to see his five children grow up.

The government is prepared to drop 80% of its case, including all Espionage Act charges (sound familiar, ahem Tom Drake). Kiriakou is expected to plead guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) for "outing" a torturer. "Outing" is quotes because the charge is not that Kiriakou's actions resulted in a public disclosure of the name, but that through a Kevin Bacon-style chain of causation, GITMO torture victims learned the name of one of their possible torturers. Regardless, how does outing a torturer hurt the national security of the U.S.? It's like arguing that outing a Nazi guarding a concentration camp would hurt the national security of Germany.

In the last couple of weeks, it became public that:

. . .  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. Further - source states journalists have known identity of this person prior to August 2008, when Kiriakou allegedly confirmed the identity in an email to Matthew Cole, formerly of ABC News. . . . Thomas Donahue Fletcher was the chief of the Headquarters Based Rendition Group and was personally responsible for the rendition of Abu Zubaydah (as well as other high-value detainees) to the CIA black site in Thailand and witnessed and played a role in Zubaydah's torture.

An effectively-forced plea from John Kiriakou will be the tragic bookend to the torture narrative: Kiriakou will be going to jail, while Fletcher happily enjoys retirement in Vienna VA, safe with protection from "the most transparent administration in history."

Here's rogues gallery of some of the people who got away with torture, other than Fletcher:

Jose Rodriguez, Enrique "Ricky" Prado, Deuce Martinez, Alfreda Bikowsky, all of the lawyers who said it was legal, including my law school contemporary John Yoo (enjoying his tenured professorship) and now-federal judge Jay Bybee, twisted psychiatrists, including criminal contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, not to mention all of the names we still don't know of the anonymous masked brutes who kidnapped, rendered, beat, waterboarded, and deprived prisoners of the basic human dignities mandated by the Geneva Conventions.

The torture cover-up spans both administrations. Last Wednesday, the Attorney General rewarded a bunch of lawyers for not prosecuting torture. And we just learned yesterday that three days after 9/11 Bushie Cofer Black was bragging about leaving suspects with "flies walking across their eyeballs" and proposing the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, which resulted in the torture and death of a still unknown number of people. Whether those people committed any crime, much less terrorism, will probably never be fully known.

Speaking of rendition, let's not forget, "Officer A" aka Thomas Fletcher, who Kiriakou is about to plead guilty to "outing," was "chief of the Headquarters Based Rendition Group."

The only person to be criminal prosecuted, and now likely jailed, as a result of the Bush-era torture regime is John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture, helped expose the program, and said on national television that torture was wrong. As Marcy Wheeler so aptly predicted the this weekend, the US attorney for the CIA has succeeded in covering-up CIA's torture, again. Another fitting addition to this dark chapter of torture and cover-up in American history.

 

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