Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who helped expose the Bush administration’s torture program, recently plead guilty to sharing the name of a colleague to journalists to use as a source. He is expected to receive a sentence of 30 months in prison.
It’s a cruel irony that the first agent connected to the CIA torture program to go to prison is the whistleblower who spoke out against the heinous practices of our government. From Bradley Manning to Aaron Swartz to John Kiriakou, the government’s pattern of overzealously prosecuting activists and whistleblowers has ruined too many lives already. If President Obama wants to show he opposes torture and supports government transparency he should pardon Kiriakou immediately.
In fact, the Justice Department has refused to pursue any of the people who sanctioned and carried out the torture Kiriakou helped expose. Yet they have gone after whistleblowers and activists with a zeal unmatched by any administration in history. Bradley Manning faces life in prison. Aaron Swartz took his life in the face of unrelenting prosecution. Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, the list goes on and on.
Kiriakou is the sixth person to be indicted under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration. It’s time the president end this war on whistleblowers. He can start by pardoning John Kiriakou.
Kiriakou served his country in the CIA for over 15 years, risking his life as an undercover agent chasing Al-Qaeda overseas — he does not deserve this treatment. Kiriakou says he engaged in rendition that resulted in the torture of detainees. He did not personally carry out torture. His leak was not even made public and presented no harm to the country.
Compare this to the reckless and very public outing of Valerie Plame — a case that resulted in four felony convictions for Scooter Libby, but not a single day in jail. It is unconscionable that Libby could avoid punishment, while Kiriakou must face years in prison for exposing the illegal and inhumane actions of the government — actions the Obama administration claims to oppose.
President Obama should not punish, but pardon John Kiriakou for his exceptional patriotism in speaking out against torture.