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Kiriakou, railroaded, now dieseled

Former CIA officer, John Kiriakou sentenced in early 2013 to 30 month sentence in February of 2013, for divulging the name of a CIA agent, is now being threatened with "diesel therapy."

CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou resumed speaking with the press and writing his ‘Letters from Loretto’ after the Bureau of Prisons reneged on their deal to give him 9 months in a halfway house. Unfortunately, prison officials have chosen to retaliate with all the harshness available to them: conducting surprise searches of his cell, attempting to remove his writing desk and threatening him with ‘diesel therapy.’

As Kiriakou explains in his latest letter published at Firedoglake, “Diesel therapy is when a prisoner is transferred from one prison to another all across the country via prison van, bus or “conair” plane, never staying in any one prison long enough to receive telephone, email, mailing or visitation privileges.”

In his 2010 book, “the Reluctant spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror”, Kiriakou relates his fascination with politics in high school and college to a decorated career in the CIA.

By the early ‘80s, John knew that in college he wanted to study the Middle East. He applied to George Washington University, was accepted, and although his parents couldn’t afford the college in Washington, D.C, he cobbled together the scholarships and financial aid that enabled him to chase his dream. As he finished graduate school, also at GWU, a professor recruited him for the CIA.

The son of first generation Greek-Americans, Kiriakou writes: “You cannot have grown up as I did, in a household that revered the United States and what it stands for, and not believe in American exceptionalism.”

In 1990, Kiriakou was hired by the CIA. Kiriakou’s foreign tours included Bahrain, Greece and, eventually, Pakistan.

After 9/11, Kiriakou was named Chief of Counterterrorist Operations in Pakistan. There he organized raids that led to the capture of numerous Al Queda members, including Abu Zubaydah, a high level official of the terrorist organization.

At the time, the Bush administration had approved a set of “enhanced interrogation” techniques. When asked if he would like to be trained in the ten techniques, Kiriakou says in his book that he consulted a mentor at the agency who suggested that “these methods might well cross a dangerous moral and legal line.” Kiriakou declined the training.

Two years later, Kiriakou resigned from the CIA and went to work in the private sector. However, his relationship with the agency was not over.

In 2007, he was interviewed by ABC reporter, Brian Ross and discussed the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. When asked if he thought that waterboarding was torture. Kiriakou responded, “You know, at the time, no...I think I have changed my mind….waterboarding probably is something that we shouldn’t be in the business of doing…Because we are Americans and we are better than that.” Kiriakou also said that the authorization to use the techniques came directly from the White House.

He was the first US government official to say that waterboarding was official policy and had been used on Al Queda prisoners, and went further by encouraging public debate on the issue, something the US government was not keen on.

What perhaps turned Kiriakou into a whistleblower might have been less the intention of what he said in the ABC interview than the government’s reaction to it. Within 24 hours of the 2007 interview, the CIA filed a crimes report against Kiriakou with Department of Justice, saying that Kiriakou had revealed classified information. The DOJ rejected this and five other similar crimes reports. He lost his consulting job and has been audited by the IRS every year since 2007. Kiriakou claims that his wife, also a CIA employee, was forced out of the agency.

Kiriakou was eventually charged with revealing the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, though the journalist never publicly disclosed the name of the officer. Kiriakou agreed to a plea deal rather than contest the charges under the Espionage Act, which could have landed him in prison for 35 years. He began serving a 30 month sentence in February of 2013. It was one of two convictions in the history of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

What he and others, including the former CIA employee Bruce Riedel, believe is that the government was really punishing Kiriakou for talking about government sanctioned torture.

In a January 30, 2013 interview on Democracy Now!, Kiriakou said that it is, “time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the September 11 regime.”

His advice to whistleblowers: “Do not remain silent.”