Tuesday, January 20, 2015
CIA Torture Whistleblower Wants to Know: 'Where's the Prosecution?'
In interview given from Loretto Prison, John Kiriakou says authorization of CIA torture came from the top
Lauren McCauley, staff writer
CIA whisteblower John Kiriakou as depicted in portrait artist Robert Shetterly's "Americans Who Tell the Truth" series. (Credit:Robert Shetterly)
John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent and whistleblower who was jailed for revealing secrets about the CIA torture program, wants to know why there's been no accountability for the brutal crimes now-documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
In a phone interview from Loretto Prison in Pennsylvania, Kiriakou told The Intercept's Andrew Jerell Jones that after the report's release, his cousin had printed the over 500-page unclassified executive summary of the report and mailed it to him in five separate envelopes.
Kiriakou, an 18-year veteran of the CIA who in 2007 revealed to news media some of the first details about the agency's widespread use of torture, said that the primary thing that shocked him upon reading the Senate report is that agents, some of whom acted without authorization and whose crimes are now widely documented, continue to walk free.
"We knew about the waterboarding, we knew about the cold cells, we knew about the loud music and the sleep deprivation. We knew about all the things that have been ‘approved’ by the Justice Department," Kiriakou said. "But what we didn’t know was what individual CIA officers were doing on their own without any authorization. And I would like to know why those officers aren’t being prosecuted."
When asked about the brutal treatment of detainees, namely Afghan prisoner Gul Rahman, who was killed in the prison, Kirakou said: "The man was murdered in cold blood, so where’s the prosecution? You come home, you murder somebody in cold blood, you get a promotion and a $2,500 bonus. That is not the message we ought to be sending."
To date, the father of five is the only CIA agent who has gone to jail in connection with the torture program. Kiriakou was prosecuted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act for allegedly revealing classified information to a reporter. After agreeing to a plea deal in October 2012, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Though outraged by the impunity of the rogue CIA actors, Kiriakou confirmed to Jones that approval of the torture program came all the way from the top.
He said: "I remember sitting at a meeting with one of the top three officials at the CIA when the program was approved. And throughout the conversation, he kept on saying, 'I can’t believe the president signed off on that program. I can’t believe it.' He kept saying it. Because it was so radical and violent that even internally we didn’t think there would be permission forthcoming. And there was. And it got out of hand, and it was a slippery slope and the ball kept rolling down the hill. And the next thing you know, we’re killing people."
The complete interview is available to read at The Intercept.
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