John Chris Kiriakou is more than just a radio host, an author and a retired intelligence agency officer, he is a hero and a whistleblower who exposed the CIA’s torture program. I spoke with him recently and asked him about his experience and found him to be friendly and helpful as I let him know I intended to write an article in support of his pardon. I had heard about Kiriakou’s plight from a friend who also supports Julian Assange. As a supporter of whistleblowers, I felt a need to tell his story.
I found a few articles on the internet that gave me some background into what happened and how Gina Haspel, now CIA director, covered up the torture program. Then how John exposed the horrifyingly wicked acts of our CIA. In a Washington Post article seen here, John tells his story.
“I was inside the CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters on Sept. 11, 2001. Like all Americans, I was traumatized, and I volunteered to go overseas to help bring al-Qaeda’s leaders to justice. I headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan from January to May 2002. My team captured dozens of al-Qaeda fighters, including senior training-camp commanders. One of the fighters whom I played an integral role in capturing was Abu Zubaida, mistakenly thought at the time to be the third-ranking person in the militant group.
By that May, the CIA had decided to torture him. When I returned to CIA headquarters that month, a senior officer in the Counterterrorism Center asked me if I wanted to be “trained in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.” I had never heard the term, so I asked what it meant. After a brief explanation, I declined. I said that I had a moral and ethical problem with torture and that — the judgment of the Justice Department notwithstanding — I thought it was illegal.”
“CIA officers and psychologists under contract to the agency began torturing Abu Zubaida on Aug. 1, 2002. The techniques were supposed to be incremental, starting with an open-palmed slap to the belly or the face. But the operatives where he was held decided to start with the toughest method. They waterboarded Abu Zubaida 83 times. They later subjected him to sleep deprivation; they kept him locked in a large dog cage for weeks at a time; they locked him in a coffin-size box and, knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, put bugs in it with him.”
“The CIA asked the new Obama Justice Department to reopen the case against me. It did, and three years later, I was charged with five felonies , including three counts of espionage, resulting from that ABC News interview and a subsequent interview with the New York Times . Of course, I hadn’t committed espionage, and the charges were eventually dropped, but only after I agreed to plea to a lesser charge. I served 23 months in prison.”
John found many of his friends and family deserted him over the charges. When speaking with John, he told me,
“I was incarcerated for 23 months of a 30 month sentence. I was charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981. I kept waiting for somebody to expose the torture program and I remained silent for more than five years. I decided to blow the whistle on the entire program. It affected my life greatly. I was forced to resign from my job and was unemployed for 15 months and friends and family members walked away from me. But it certainly did make a difference. Senator John McCain said that I was the inspiration behind the McCain Feinstein Amendment and that without my whistleblowing, the ban on torture may not have been possible. I deserve a pardon because my prosecution was an injust.”
The fact is that the U.S. government is showing our allies and enemies that they prosecute the truth teller and promote the criminal. This has to stop. People like John Kiriakou not only deserve a pardon but must be protected by law. If we do not protect those that expose hideous crimes and instead persecute and prosecute them, then we are no better than the criminals themselves. When we watch an injustice occur and do not act, we are accountable.
John Kiriakou should be rewarded for exposing crimes against human rights. Torture of any kind is cruel and unusual punishment and is against our Constitution and Bill of Rights. How does torture make our country any better than the terrorists who committed 9/11 and continue to terrorize the world? Torture doesn’t work folks, and by doing so, our CIA committed a crime that should be uncovered and tried in a court of law.
As for John Kiriakou, by exposing the CIA torture program, he did Americans a service and should be pardoned. It is a very dangerous action by our government to indict someone who reveals a crime. This makes it much easier for offenders to get away with their corrupt activities and thus puts fear in the hearts of ordinary citizens. This also tells Americans that as long as you are part of our government, you can get away with anything. There should not be two standards set for citizens and officials.
By pardoning John Kiriakou, President Trump would be setting a standard and example to the world that the United States will not stand for violations of human rights and criminal activity within our government. He would be showing the Deep State that he truly wants the Swamp drained. He would be making a statement that would further protect those who choose to expose crimes within the government, their organizations, and corporations. We need to see our President stand up for what’s right. Pardon John Kiriakou, a hero and an American Patriot!