On Jan. 25, CIA agent John Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison 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. The law was passed in 1982 and targeted radical publications that deliberately sought to out undercover agents, exposing their secret work and endangering their lives.
However, John Kiriakou never associated with "radical publications". In fact, he is a CIA hero and would not willfully turn on his country as the government charges. He's the sixth person accused of violating the Espionage Act during
President Obama's term. I only wish that Scooter Libbey, Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney could have received the same punishment as Kiriakou, if not more. After all, the outing of Valerie Plame (Wilson) was an act of treason beyond Kiriakou's name release to a reporter.
No Presidential Pardon should have been granted to Libbey, but I urge President Obama to grant one to Kiriakou. Why? Because pardons are granted when individuals have demonstrated that they have fulfilled their debt to society or at least are considered to be deserving of one. Scooter Libbey was not deserving of a pardon, but he got his get out of jail free card anyway.
Although prosecutors say Kiriakou, age 47, broke a solemn pledge he took when he joined the CIA in 1990 by sharing information about his former colleagues with reporters at The New York Times and ABC News. OK, agreed, he shouldn't have- he slipped up. Regardless, he is deserving of a pardon from President Obama due to his record and duty to country. 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. An intelligent man, he learned Arabic and from 1994-96 served as an economic officer at the American Embassy in Manama, Bahrain. He returned to Washington, D.C. and concentrated on his specialty- Iraq.
Then, he transferred to the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in 1998. He studied counterterrorism and went to Athens, Greece, working on Eurocommunist 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.
I feel that a conditional pardon, instead of an absolute "Scooter Libbey-type" pardon, should be granted by President Obama. 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 conditonal pardon would better serve him, his family and the nation. Ironically, this act of act of forgiveness would be a selfish act by President Obama and America because of the immense benefits that he could bestow upon the "forgivers" (us).
With his professional background in intelligence matters, President Obama 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 the Middle Eastern and North African countries, and his expertise about South Asian nations such as Pakistan would be a benefit to all. His analytical and fluent language skills would be a great help for the analysts currently working in NESA.
President Obama could order him to "work out" his conditional pardon by teaching undergraduate degree coursework that involves language training and familiarization of the Middle Eastern countries he knows so well. Or, he could be required to teach 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 be assigned to the Middle East.
Kiriakou wrote a book called "Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror". In the book, he discusses waterboarding terrorist suspects, CIA raids in Pakistan, and the truth about the invasion of Iraq. In a groundbreaking 2007 interview with ABC News, John Kiriakou defined waterboarding as torture, but still admitted that it probably was effective.
He was well-known and appreciated at the time. For example, on March 28, 2002, he led a raid in which Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda’s 3rd ranking official, was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
He received a domestic assignment from 2002 until 2004, when he resigned from the CIA. During his stretch with the CIA, he was awarded 10 Exceptional Performance Awards, a Sustained Superior performance Award, the Counterterrorism Service Medal, and the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award.
The federal case USA v. John Kiriakou charged him with unauthorized disclosure of a covert officer’s identity and other classified information, and lying to CIA’s Publications Review Board. He was arraigned on charges of leaking classified information to the press in violation of the Espionage Act and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act…all of which he denied from the start, until he was forced to make a plea deal to avoid a lengthier prison sentence.
Click HERE to view a full copy of the indictment and the 5 charges against Kiriakou.
White House CIA Plame Leak Made All Americans "Fair Game"