GAP’s Radack: “CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou blew the whistle on ‘waterboarding’ and refused to engage in torture, but is the only person to be criminally prosecuted in connection with the Bush-era torture program”

(Washington, DC) – On April 3, 2012, the Obama administration indicted intelligence whistleblower John Kiriakou. Kiriakou is the sixth whistleblower that the Obama administration has charged under the Espionage Act for the alleged mishandling of classified information – more than all past administrations combined. In a rare move, the indictment was sealed until today.

Kiriakou is a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) veteran who headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan after 9/11, organized the team operation that captured suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, and refused to be trained in torture interrogation tactics. In December 2007, Kiriakou gave an on-camera interview to ABC News in which he disclosed that Zubaydah was “waterboarded” and that “waterboarding” was torture. Kiriakou was one of the first CIA officers to label waterboarding as torture, and his interview helped expose the CIA’s torture program as policy, rather than the actions of a few rogue agents. Kiriakou further exposed the CIA’s torture program and the CIA’s deception about torture even to its own employees in his 2009 book, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.

Government Accountability Project (GAP) National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, a Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower herself, represented National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, the first individual indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act for disclosing massive waste, fraud, abuse and illegality at the NSA through proper channels. The DOJ case against Drake fell apart days before the trial was set to begin last summer, in what was widely seen as a bellwether case for future prosecutions, like that of Kiriakou.

“John Kiriakou is the new Thomas Drake,” stated Radack, continuing, “And the case against Kiriakou is just as flimsy as the one against Drake. The Obama administration’s unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers sends a chilling message to any national security worker considering blowing the whistle on corruption and wrongdoing. The Espionage Act is an archaic World War I-era law intended to go after spies, not whistleblowers.”

Inexplicably, Kiriakou’s indictment was sealed until today. Radack noted “There was no flight risk for Kiriakou, who had already been arrested in January, and no reason to keep the indictment under seal, except perhaps to delay press coverage of the Obama administration’s latest criminal prosecution of a whistleblower.”

Radack added, “It is outrageous that John Kiriakou – the whistleblower – is the only individual to be prosecuted in relation to the Bush administration’s torture program. The interrogators who tortured prisoners, the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, and the CIA agents who destroyed the interrogation tapes have not been held professionally accountable, much less charged with crimes. But John Kiriakou is facing decades in prison for helping expose torture. The fact that national security whistleblowers have become the exception to the Obama administration’s meme of ‘looking forward, not back’ at Bush-era crimes sets a dangerous precedent: if you torture a prisoner, you will not be held criminally liable, but if you blow the whistle on torture, you risk criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act.”

Members of the media interested in speaking with Radack can contact GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at to schedule an interview.

Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137, 202.236.3733 (cell)
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