On the floor of House of Representatives on November 17, Virginia Democratic Representative Jim Moran put forward a stinging rebuke of the “selective prosecution” of former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou. He asked President Barack Obama to pardon Kiriakou and called the fifteen-year CIA veteran “an American hero.”

Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under President George W. Bush’s administration. He was convicted in October 2012 after he pled guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA). He was sentenced to two and a half years in jail in January 2013, and reported to Federal Correctional Institution Loretto in Pennsylvania on February 28, 2013, where he has been serving his sentence. (Firedoglake has been publishing Kiriakou’s letters from prison written as “Letters from Loretto”.)

Moran himself acknowledged [PDF] that Kiriakou was a whistleblower, the first “intelligence officers to officially and on-record reveal that the US was in the torture business as a matter of White House policy under President Bush.” He helped to confirm that waterboarding and other torture techniques were a “matter of standard military and intelligence procedures,” which ignited an “intense and overdue debate.”

“The real issue here is the extremely selective prosecution of John and the ongoing efforts to intimidate him from talking about our intelligence community’s misfires,” Moran stated. “Even former CIA Director Leon Panetta now concedes he accidentally revealed classified information to the writer of Zero Dark Thirty, but faces no legal ramifications. Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s former head of the Clandestine Service, admits to deciding without any legal authorization to erase videotapes of torture sessions so they could never be used in US courts but has never been forced to answer for this destruction of evidence.”

Moran suggested that the charge, which he pled guilty to committing, stemmed from answering a “question from a US reporter who was duplicitously fronting for lawyers defending al Qaeda prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and in the process unintentionally confirmed the classified identity of a CIA colleague,” who was “being erroneously labeled as an enhanced interrogation techniques torturer.”

During the statement, Moran hailed him not only as a hero but also as a “devoted family man to his wife and five children, a churchgoing member of the Greek-American community, a bestselling author and a serious-minded former congressional foreign policy aide.”

“He is not a spy nor a turncoat, he did not sell secrets to an enemy or act to hurt US national security,” Moran argued. “But John did shine a critical spotlight on a CIA practice that many wanted kept in the shadows and he did challenge the authority of those who authorized, oversaw, and encouraged the use of waterboarding and other acts of torture. And he did this with the moral authority of someone who served inside the intelligence world” and had refused to be trained in waterboarding and other torture techniques.

Moran expressed his view that Kiriakou had more than paid for whatever misdeeds he committed. He deserved to have his record cleared by a pardon from President Obama so he could move on with his life.

Kiriakou lives in Virginia and is one of Moran’s constituents. Previously, Moran had pushed for him to receive twelve months in a halfway house. The Justice Department did not grant this request, even though it was well within the Bureau of Prisons’ guidelines.

The Obama administration has prosecuted eight individuals under the Espionage Act for “leaking” and used the law to pursue more prosecutions for leaks than all previous presidential administrations combined.

Jesselyn Radack, who is the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Director and Kiriakou’s attorney, has said, “John Kiriakou is the only CIA officer to go to prison in connection with the George W. Bush-era illegal torture program, and Kiriakou refused to participate in torture and helped expose it publicly.”

“If John Kiriakou had tortured detainees instead of blowing the whistle on torture, he would be free. The President should do everything in his power to correct such a perverse outcome.”