Well, it is officially over and done with. On Jan. 25, CIA agent John Kiriakou will be sentenced to 30 months in prison as part of a plea deal in which he admitted violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by e-mailing the name of a covert C.I.A. officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. The law was passed in 1982, aimed at radical publications that deliberately sought to out undercover agents, exposing their secret work and endangering their lives.
However, John Kiriakou is not associated with radical publications. In fact, he is a CIA hero. How can such a heroe turn on his country, as the government charges? He's the sixth person accused of violating the Espionage Act during President Obama's term. I only wish that Scooter Libbey and Vice President Dick Cheney could have received the same punishment as Kiriakou, if not more. After all, the outing of Valerie Plame (Wilson) was an act of treason beyond Kiriakou's name release to a reporter, and no Presidential Pardon should have been granted to Libbey. I urge President Obama to grant Kiriakou a pardon. Why? Because pardons are granted when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society or at least are considered to be deserving of one. Scooter Libbey was not deserving of a pardon, but he got his get out of jail free card anyway.
Although prosecutors say Kiriakou, age 47, broke a solemn pledge he took when he joined the CIA in 1990 by sharing information about his former colleagues with reporters at The New York Times and ABC News, I argue that he is deserving of a pardon from President Obama. Just look at his record and duty to his country. As a CIA operative, he spent 8 years as a Middle East analyst, specializing on Iraq. He held a Top Secret Case Sensitive security clearance. An intelligent man, he learned Arabic and from 1994-96 served as an economic officer at the American Embassy in Manama, Bahrain. He returned to Washington, D.C. and returned to his specialty, which was Iraq. Then, he transferred to the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in 1998. He studied counterterrorism and went to Athens, Greece, working on Eurocommunist terrorism matters. He returned back to CIA Headquarters in 2000, then after the 9/11 attacks, was named Chief of Counterterrorist Operations in Pakistan. He was noted in this position to have led a series of raids on al-Qaeda safe houses, which resulted in the capture of dozens of al-Qaeda warriors.
I feel that a conditional pardon, instead of an absolute "Scooter Libbey" pardon, should be granted by President Obama. Let me explain, an absolute pardon would completely release Kiriakou from punishment, but with his experience as a Middle East CIA operative and Chief of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, I feel a conditonal pardon would better serve him, his family and the nation. Under this arrangement, he would be released from his prison sentence, but have to satisfy some requirement. President Obama could grant him such a pardon, but require him to serve out his sentence by working in the CIA's Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis (NESA). His knowledge of the Middle Eastern and North African countries, and his expertise about South Asian nations such as Pakistan would be a benefit to all. His analytical and fluent language skills would be a great help for the analysts currently working in NESA. Another option would be for him to teach undergraduate degree coursework that involves language training and familiarization of the Middle Eastern countries he has worked in.
Or, with a conditional pardon, he could be required to teach in The Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. With his eight years as a Middle East analyst, he could instruct students in foreign languages and regional issues to the DI students and officers who will be assigned to the Middle East.
Kiriakou wrote a book called "Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror". In the book, he discusses waterboarding terrorist suspects, CIA raids in Pakistan, and the truth about the invasion of Iraq. In a groundbreaking 2007interview with ABC News, John Kiriakou defined waterboarding as torture, but still admitted that it probably was effective.
He was well-known and appreciated at the time. For example, on March 28, 2002, he led a raid in which Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda’s 3rd ranking official, was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
He received a domestic assignment from 2002 until 2004, when he resigned from the CIA. During his stretch with the CIA, he was awarded 10 Exceptional Performance Awards, a Sustained Superior performance Award, the Counterterrorism Service Medal, and the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award.
I've always wondered, after reviewing his impeccable record, what happened? It's akin to the movie “The Recruit”, where the CIA operative, Burke (Al Pacino) was a traitor all along with the CIA having no suspicions of his treachery. When cornered, Burke screamed out his unjust treatment by the CIA and then committed suicide-by-cop. I guess when you’re trained by the CIA and become good, you know how to evade their counterintelligence methods.
But, this case is obviously much different. This federal case, USA v. John Kiriakou charges him with unauthorized disclosure of a covert officer’s identity and other classified information, and lying to CIA’s Publications Review Board. He was arraigned on charges of leaking classified information to the press in violation of the Espionage Act and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act…all of which he denied from the start, until he was forced to make a plea deal to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.
Click HERE to view a full copy of the indictment and the 5 charges against Kiriakou.
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