On Tuesday, ex-Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism operative, John Kiriakou, pleaded guilty for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for disclosing information about a former associate to Matthew Cole, who then was a reporter for ABC News. This news comes just two months after the Justice department stated that it would not charge any C.I.A. officials who were involved with the interrogation of detainees during the Bush administration.
Kiriakou could have faced a sentence of multiple decades, but the recommendation of the prosecutor has been thirty months in prison. This sentencing is due to dropping multiple other charges, including helping New York Times reporter, Scott Shane, identify a colleague and lying to the C.I.A. publications board review of his 2010 memoir, “Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the C.I.A.’s War on Terror.”
In 2002 Kiriakou was in charge of the team that found Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan, but really came into the public eye in 2007 when he was interviewed by ABC News where he expressed that waterboarding was torture, but necessary for C.I.A. business. For the Obama administration the guilty verdict was following the intense pressure put on the unauthorized release of government secrets. Presently, six former and current officials have been charged with disclosing government secrets during the Obama Administration. This statistic is twice the number of cases presented by all former presidents combined.
The sentence hearing will be held on January 25, 2013, and the criminal investigation began in 2009 when lawyers for suspects at Guantanamo Bay were identifying witnesses to their client’s torture during the interrogations. The identification of the witnesses were linked back to the knowledge that Kiriakou passed onto Cole. Director of the C.I.A., David Petraeus, claimed that the guilty plea was the first successful use of the Intelligence Identities Act in the past three decades and “an important victory for the intelligence community.” This case truly shows the backlash for whistleblowers like Kiriakou. Kiriakou’s exposing the Bush administration’s illegal torture of suspected terrorists has been made into a crime, in which he will spend two and a half years in prison. Unfortunately, telling the truth has its consequences in the Untied States, and this is an indicator of the way in which the government respects the rights of detainees, but also the right of the American public to government accountability.