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Fresh Out of Prison, Former CIA Officer John Kiriakou Talks Torture, Much More

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John Kiriakou is the only American jailed in connection with Bush-era torture programs–for being a whistleblower. In this in-depth interview, Kiriakou speaks candidly about the aggressive retaliation he faced for admitting the obvious–resulting in a 30-month sentence in federal prison.After relating the joy of his release from prison with his family, Kiriakou walks us through his work at CIA and his assignment in Pakistan, where he ran the operation that captured Abu Zubaydeh.  At that time, Kiriakou had not thought much about interrogation and torture, but explains that he evolved after learning of the brutal tactics.  He left CIA in 2004, and was a paid analyst for ABC News in 2007 when he made a “nuanced” comment about waterboarding as torture and torture as un-American, and wrong.

The FBI made a number of attempts to entrap Kiriakou, and he tells the story in context with other frame-ups orchestrated by the FBI since 9/11.  Then, while he was working as top investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. John Kerry, he was charged with several counts under the draconian Espionage Act and with revealing the name of a covert CIA agent.

He explains that he ultimately agreed to a plea deal, and plead guilty to one charge of revealing the agent–even though he thought the agent was no longer covert, and the information was never published.  When asked about the recent plea deal by General Petraeus, Kiriakou says that neither of them should’ve been prosecuted.

While he wisely ducks my question about notorious CIA executive Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, he is quite forthcoming in every other respect, especially on the culture of lies that is the foundation of the CIA.

Kiriakou acknowledges excellent work by online journalists Kevin Gozstola and Jason Leopold, and reveals that he has a new position at the Institute for Policy Studies.  He does not think America’s torture team will be brought to justice in the forseeable future.