CIA AUthor and Whistleblower Charged by Justice Department
April 6, 2012
Associated Press & ABC News
A high profile CIA agent made famous by his public opposition to waterboarding has been indicted by a grand jury for leaking government secrets to reporters. The indictment of Kiriakou, returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, is part of an aggressive Justice Department crackdown on leakers and is one of a half-dozen such cases opened during the Obama administration.
CIA agent who publicly opposed waterboarding charged with leaking classified secrets to journalists
(April 6, 2012) -- A high profile CIA agent made famous by his public opposition to waterboarding has been indicted by a grand jury for leaking government secrets to reporters.
John C. Kiriakou is accused of telling journalists the name of another operative and his role in the capture of al-Qaida financier Abu Zybaydah shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The indictment of Kiriakou, returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, is part of an aggressive Justice Department crackdown on leakers and is one of a half-dozen such cases opened during the Obama administration.
Prison time: CIA operative John C. Kiriakou, left, faces up to 45 years in prison. His indictment was part of a crackdown on people who leak government secrets
The five-count indictment charges Kiriakou, 47, who was arrested in January, with divulging to journalists - including a New York Times reporter - the role of an associate who participated in the capture of suspected al-Qaida financier Abu Zubaydah in the months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The officer's participation in that mission was classified.
The indictment also accuses Kiriakou of separately disclosing a covert officer's name to an unidentified journalist. The government began investigating after information about that officer appeared in a sealed legal brief submitted by lawyers representing a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. Authorities say the journalist passed on the officer's name to a defense team investigator. The defense lawyers are not alleged to have done anything illegal.
Kiriakou, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be arraigned April 13 in US District Court in Alexandria.
Authorities say Kiriakou denied to FBI agents that he had leaked the information and answered 'Heavens, no' when asked if he had provided Zubaydah's name to a reporter. They say he lied about his actions in an effort to convince the CIA to let him publish a book, 'The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror.'
The indictment includes one charge of making false statements, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, and four counts of violating either the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act - each punishable by up to 10 years.
Kiriakou received public attention for his statements on waterboarding, which he called an 'unnecessary' form of interrogation during a 2007 interview with ABC. Kiriakou said the technique had been used effectively to break down Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times, and had been justified in the months after September 11. But he also appeared to express misgivings about whether the harsh interrogation method was still appropriate.
'(W)e were really trying to do anything that we could to stop another major attack from happening,' Kiriakou said.
'I don't think we're in that mindset right now. ... And, as a result, waterboarding, at least right now, is unnecessary.'
He has since acknowledged that much of what he said turned out to be wrong. An FBI interrogator, for instance, has testified to the Senate that Zubaydah's waterboarding did not yield important intelligence, contrary to claims by the CIA and the Bush administration. And he has acknowledged that he was not present for the interrogations and instead relied on what he'd heard and read.
Robert Trout, one of Kiriakou's lawyers, declined to comment Thursday. But another of his lawyers, Plato Cacheris, said in January that the charges criminalized routine conduct between journalists and their government sources.
The Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection organization, blasted the indictment -- the sixth criminal leak case opened under the Obama administration
Jesselyn Radack, the organization's national security and human rights director, said the Justice Department was punishing a whistleblower under a law intended to prosecute spies and that Kiriakou was being targeted partly because of his public statements questioning the use of waterboarding.
'Back when no one was saying anything, back in 2007 when we were arguing about the validity of waterboarding, he was the only CIA official to say waterboarding was torture,' she said.
(c) Associated Newspapers Ltd
Ex-CIA Officer Indicted for Alleged Leaks, False Statements
Jason Ryan / ABC News
(April 6, 2012) -- Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was charged in a five-count indictment Thursday for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists and lying to the CIA about information he included in his book "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror."
The indictment charges Kiriakou, a one-time ABC News consultant, with one count of disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer, three counts of disclosing sensitive national defense information, and one count of making false statements to the CIA's Publications Review Board in an effort to trick the board into allowing him to publish classified information in his book. The information was related to individuals allegedly involved in controversial CIA interrogation techniques that some have termed torture.
Kiriakou, 47, was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments. In March 2002, Kiriakou participated in the CIA's capture of al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan.
According to the indictment, Kiriakou disclosed the name of a covert CIA operative, and classified information about that operative and another employee, to a reporter identified as Journalist A.
The indictment also alleges that Kiriakou confirmed the identity of a CIA employee to a New York Times journalist, who published the name of the officer in a June 2008 article that revealed the officer's role in the Abu Zubaydah interrogation. Kiriakou also allegedly told the journalist that Abu Zubaydah was interrogated using a "magic box," information that appeared in the same New York Times article.
Former CIA agents who write books about their operations must submit drafts of the books to a review board for approval before publication. According to the indictment, Kiriakou told his co-author Michael Ruby about the "magic box," but did not include discussion of the box in two early drafts of the book submitted for approval. Kiriakou then allegedly submitted a third draft of the book for approval that included a reference to the box, but told the review board that the box was fictional.
He allegedly told his coauthor beforehand by email that he planned to lie to the review board about the box. "What I propose telling them is that we've fictionalized much of it (even if we haven't.)," Kiriakou is alleged to have written. After submitting the draft to the review board, he allegedly told his coauthor, "I laid it on thick." The indictment alleges that Kiriakou told his co-author Michael Ruby that he told the CIA review board information in the book had been fictionalized in reference to details about how the CIA tracked Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.
Kiriakou allegedly illegally revealed that the CIA hunted down Zubaydah with a device referred to as a "Magic Box." He also allegedly leaked information, including the identify of a covert officer to a disclosed information that appeared in a June 2008 New York Times story revealing the identity of a CIA officer involved in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.
The investigation into Kiriakou was prompted when a January 2009 defense filing from lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay was found to include information that did not come from official government sources. In spring 2009, investigators also discovered photographs of CIA and U.S. government contractors in the possession of Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2010 as a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation in order to avoid a conflict of interest, since officials at the Justice Department in Washington were working on the cases against the Guantanamo detainees.
Kiriakou is free on bond and will scheduled for arraignment on April 13. His attorney, Robert Trout, declined to comment to ABC News.
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