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John Kiriakou was sentenced to prison in retaliation for acknowledging the CIA’s torture program, even though he didn’t torture anybody. Today, he talks about his experiences in prison.Kiriakou’s new book is Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me To Survive and Thrive in Prison. He relates many interesting anecdotes from his stretch in federal prison, and how he used his CIA training to deal with the many challenges–large and small–he faced from prison staff and other inmates.
Initially, Kiriakou reports on his recent trip to Europe, where he met some political leaders and activists concerned about America’s intentions and practices related to transparency and human rights. He relates his “small world” encounter in Berlin with Ai Wei Wei, the Chinese artist, dissident and former political prisoner; Ai created an exhibit at the former prison site on Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay a few years ago that featured Kiriakou along with 100+ political prisoners worldwide.
As we shift to his prison term at Loretto in Pennsylvania, Kiriakou talks about his encounters with neo-nazis, low-life guards, and child molesters. Based on the book and his comments in the interview, it’s fair to say that Kiriakou was radicalized by his interactions with sex offenders.
He details the ingrained racial segregation in prison, starting with control of TV sets in common areas by “shot callers” for each racial group. He talks about the challenges and cost for families to visit or get phone calls from prisoners, and offers a sharp indictment of our incarceration policies.
Near the end, he comments on the CIA reports related to Trump/Russia, and notes that he supports the appointment of a special counsel–but not former FBI director Mueller, who led the retaliation campaign against Kiriakou.