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CIA officer is a hero to some, but not feds

 Former CIA officer John Kiriakou (right) accompanied by his attorney leaves Federal Court in Alexandria.
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Date published: 1/25/2013


Associated Press


--When former CIA officer John Kiriakou is sentenced Friday in federal court for leaking the name of one of the agency's covert operatives to a reporter, his ultimate fate will not be in doubt. The plea calls for a 2-year prison term.

Still, the fight over the 48-year-old Kiriakou's reputation remains fierce.

Kiriakou and his supporters portray him as an anti-torture whistleblower paying the price for doing the right thing by exposing what they consider the worst aspects of the government's so-called enhanced interrogation program.

To federal prosecutors, though, Kiriakou's claims of altruism and martyrdom are galling. In court papers filed on Jan. 18, they say Kiriakou was motivated by fame and money and "was engaged in a concerted campaign to raise his media profile, principally to advance his private pecuniary interests through, among other things, consulting engagements, publication of editorials, more remunerative and secure employment, and sales of his forthcoming book."

The claim to be an anti-torture whistleblower makes no sense, the government says, given that he essentially defended the CIA's interrogation techniques in his initial interviews, which were among the first given by a CIA insider after news broke about the government's admission that it engaged in waterboarding.

Kiriakou told one interviewer that he came forward "because he thought the CIA 'had gotten a bum rap on waterboarding,'" prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

Even more, while Kiriakou now portrays the leak of one covert officer's name as an attempt to expose those who orchestrated the torture program, Kiriakou at the time described that officer, identified in court papers only as Covert Officer A, as "a very good guy" to journalists.

Defense lawyers maintained Kiriakou was a victim of a vindictive prosecution, alleging that the government only went after him because they didn't like what he was saying about the CIA in his book, "The Reluctant Spy," and in public interviews.

But prosecutors say the case against Kiriakou developed when authorities discovered a potentially dangerous security breach: prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were discovered possessing photographs of one of their interrogators. It was that investigation that ultimately led to the discovery of Kiriakou's leaks.

Indeed, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected the claims of vindictive prosecution early on in the case.

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