Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was one of the first government officials to publicly acknowledge the use of waterboarding during interrogations and to call it what it was – torture. The Obama administration, in its unprecedented war on whistleblowers is trying to charge Kiriakou under the Espionage Act (just one of six such cases, more than any of Obama’s predecessors combined).
Dan Froomkin at the Huffington Post writes a lengthy article about the irony of prosecuting him for telling the truth, while the torturers are free. “The bitterest irony of the case is that if Kiriakou had actually tortured, rather than talked about it, he almost certainly wouldn’t be in trouble,” he writes.
“They are going after someone who blew the whistle on torture and water boarding,” said Jesselyn Radack, national security and human rights director at the Government Accountability Project, which represents whistleblowers, “while at the same time, the people who wrote the memos and issued the orders and carried out the torture are being covered up, and get a pass.”
“I think it really takes very little time to understand that what is going on is an attempt to use censorship as a means of influencing public opinion, by silencing your critics and enabling or empowering those who present the party line,” said Scott Horton, a human rights lawyer and Harper’s blogger.
The administration’s selectivity when it comes to the prosecution of leak cases has also alarmed Republicans in Congress, some of whom are demanding to know why cases like Kiriakou’s are prosecuted while disclosures of highly classified information that bolsters the Obama administration’s national security record — such as details of the operation to kill Osama bin Laden — go unpunished. As a result, Attorney General Eric Holder in early June appointed two more U.S. attorneys to lead criminal investigation into those leaks as well.
Antiwar.com’s Kelley B. Vlahos interviewed Peter Van Buren, a Foreign Service officer also in trouble for saying things the government didn’t want him to, who had this to say about the Kiriakou case: “The bureaucracies know this intimidation keeps people in line. Other employees watch and say, not me, not my mortgage, not my family and remain silent.”