Wednesday, September 18, 2013


President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 Dear Mr. President:

As a staunch supporter of yours, I urge you to reconsider the case of CIA agent John Kiriakou who is serving a 30 month sentence as part of a plea deal in which he admitted violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by e-mailing the name of a covert C.I.A. officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. True, he made a mistake and his blunder is not acceptable or excusable. But, I feel it is forgivable for three reasons. First, this law was passed in 1982 and targeted radical publications that deliberately sought to out undercover agents, exposing their secret work and endangering their lives and the spies they recruited. However, John Kiriakou never associated with "radical publications". 
Second, he is a CIA hero and would not willfully turn on his country as the government charged. I only wish that the pardoned Scooter Libby was dealt a more severe penalty than Kiriakou for participating in the outing of another CIA hero- Valerie (Plame) Wilson. Libby's pardon left Americans confounded about the role Karl Rove and Dick Cheney played in the outing of Plame. Few would be confused if Kiriakou was pardoned, for he has fulfilled his debt to society. As a CIA operative, he spent 8 years as a Middle East analyst, specializing on Iraq. He held a Top Secret Case Sensitive security clearance, learned to speak Arabic, and from 1994-96 served as an economic officer at the American Embassy in Manama, Bahrain before returning to Washington, D.C. to focus on his specialty- Iraq.

Then, he transferred to the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in 1998 and studied counterterrorism and went to Athens, Greece, working on Euro-communist terrorism matters. He returned back to CIA Headquarters in 2000, then after the 9/11 attacks, was named Chief of Counterterrorist Operations in Pakistan. He was noted in this position to have led a series of raids on al-Qaeda safe houses, which resulted in the capture of dozens of al-Qaeda warriors.
The third reason stems from this invaluable experience and his heretofore impeccable service to country. Why not grant him a conditional pardon, instead of an absolute "Scooter Libbey-type" pardon? An absolute pardon would completely release Kiriakou from punishment, but with his experience as a Middle East CIA operative and Chief of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, I feel a conditional pardon would benefit America because of the immense benefits he could bestow upon the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

For example, Mr. President, you could require him to serve out his sentence by working in the CIA's Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis (NESA). His knowledge of Middle Eastern and North African countries, his expertise about South Asian nations such as Pakistan, and his analytical and fluent language skills would be a great help for the analysts currently working in NESA.

Or, you could require that he teach undergraduate degree coursework that involves language training and familiarization of the Middle Eastern countries in The Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. With his eight years experience as a Middle East analyst, he could teach foreign languages and regional issues to the DI students and officers who will eventually be assigned to the Middle East.

Mr. President, I urge you to consider a conditional pardon for this CIA hero who, on March 28, 2002, led a raid in which Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda’s 3rd ranking official, was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan. It would be a defensible Presidential Conditional Pardon, in light of his taking home 10 Exceptional Performance Awards, a Sustained Superior performance Award, the Counterterrorism Service Medal, and the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award...all well-deserved. 

Robert Morton

Learn more about John Kiriakou

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