Back in April, we wrote about how the Obama administration, for the astounding sixth time
, had used the Espionage Act
-- which is supposed to be used against spies -- to bring criminal charges against a former government employee-turned-whistleblower. All other Presidents prior to Obama put together
had used the Espionage Act in this manner three times. Yes, the Obama administration has doubled
all previous such uses. Last year, lots of attention was paid to the case of Thomas Drake
, which ended in a weak plea bargain, after much of the government's case fell apart. This year, the attention was on this latest case, against former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on how the CIA tortured people via waterboarding.
In a sane society, such whistleblowing would receive a hero's welcome, and the people involved in torture would be in jail. President Obama has said that waterboarding is torture
, as has Attorney General Eric Holder
, who runs the DOJ. Given that, combined with Obama's repeated insistence that his administration must encourage whistleblowing, you would think that the administration, led by the DOJ, would celebrate a CIA agent who exposes such practices, and seek to punish those who carried them out.
Instead, we have the reverse. This morning, Kiriakou plead guilty
, though to a much lesser charge -- that of "revealing an undercover operative's identity." Similar to the Drake case, they found narrow grounds for a guilty plea. The plea document and the associated "statement of facts" are embedded below for your horror. They tell... uh... a very one-sided view of the story, leaving out all the pesky little details about torture. Kiriakou was more or less forced into taking the deal after a judge had ridiculously ruled that you didn't have to intend to harm the US to be guilty under the Espionage Act. How is it possibly espionage against a country if you don't intend to harm that country?
The whole proceeding (and all of these other cases) have seriously called into question the Obama administration's supposed support of whistleblowers. It's clear that was a horrible joke played on the public when Obama insisted he wanted to encourage whistleblowing. Before these latest events, Bloomberg had an absolutely scathing story
about the administrations abuse of power under the Espionage Act to beat down any whistleblowers.
As the Government Accountability Project notes, the tragedy in all of this is that Kiriakou goes to jail, while the actual torturer, remains free
. They note that this plea lets the case be over, and makes sure that Kiriakou will be out of jail in 2.5 years -- and will get to see his children grow up. But the whole claim of "outing" is ridiculous:
"Outing" is quotes because the charge is not that Kiriakou's actions resulted in a public disclosure of the name, but that through a Kevin Bacon-style chain of causation, GITMO torture victims learned the name of one of their possible torturers. Regardless, how does outing a torturer hurt the national security of the U.S.? It's like arguing that outing a Nazi guarding a concentration camp would hurt the national security of Germany.
They further note that the CIA agent "outed," Thomas Fletcher, was widely known to reporters well before Kiriakou mentioned his name to reporters. As GAP notes:
An effectively-forced plea from John Kiriakou will be the tragic bookend to the torture narrative: Kiriakou will be going to jail, while Fletcher happily enjoys retirement in Vienna VA, safe with protection from "the most transparent administration in history."
Oh, and not just that, but:
The only person to be criminal prosecuted, and now likely jailed, as a result of the Bush-era torture regime is John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture, helped expose the program, and said on national television that torture was wrong.
Shameful. Oh, and as an aside to folks here who have spent time following the Megaupload case, the guy who headed up this case for the DOJ, Neil MacBride... is the same guy who's heading up the Megaupload prosecution.