If you’ve ever wondered why a whistleblower like Edward Snowden would flee the country to avoid arguing his case in a US court, look no further than the story of CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou.
Kiriakou is one of eight whistleblowers to have been charged under the Espionage Act during the Obama administration — an unprecedented list that includes Snowden as well as Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. Like his peers, the Kiriakou family saw their lives turned upside down by the government’s boundless quest to punish John for exposing their gross misconduct.
The Kiriakou’s defense website argues that “The government’s decision to target him was designed to destroy his career, his reputation and ability to provide for his family, and thus to chill future disclosures about CIA interrogation programs by anyone.” In Kiriakou’s case, the murky justification for his imprisonment was not his actual whistleblowing, but because he “innocently answered a reporter’s question and got on the wrong side of people working to cover up and downplay torture.”
The public has learned very few details of the government’s investigation into Kiriakou, and a whole lot less about the torture program he exposed. This information is not only important to our understanding of Kiriakou’s case, but of how our government treats whistleblowers and works to cover-up its dirtiest secrets as well.
Obtaining this information is more of an art form than a bureaucratic process. It’s tricky, costly and time-consuming, which is why we need your help if we hope to learn more about Kiriakou’s case. Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola is teaming up with independent reporter Jason Leopold — who has done groundbreaking work on the torture of Abu Zubaydah — to file a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to uncover the truth about John’s prosecution.
We know the government will go to great lengths to conceal the decision-making behind John’s prosecution and subsequent imprisonment. Fortunately, Kevin and Jason are very skilled journalists who are well-versed in the art of FOIA requests. They are determined to pull out all the stops to get this information, but they need our help to come up with the various filing fees and costs associated with producing and promoting this reporting.
The John Kiriakou Campaign Fund has already successfully funded one project, and we’re confident we can do it again. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our supporters we we’re able to quickly raise the $1,600 necessary to do something nice for the Kiriakous by sending John’s two oldest children to camp this summer.
And our work is making a difference, especially to John and his family. When he learned supporters raised the money for camp, he told his wife Heather to thank everyone at Firedoglake “for the overwhelming and generous gift for my family. It makes my days in Loretto so much easier knowing that there are people who really care about my children and are willing to make personal sacrifices to mitigate the impact of my absence on them.”1
Now it’s time to move to our next task: uncovering the truth about John’s case and reporting those details to the world.
PS: For a better picture of what it’s like to be hunted by the government for blowing the whistle, I encourage you to check out a new documentary called Silenced, which prominently features Kiriakou’s story. FDL’s Kevin Gosztola has an excellent review that you can read here.