DOJ Charges Former CIA Officer for Exposing CIA’s Torture

It would be too simple to say that Jon Kiriakou was a whistle-blower. His initial leaks to journalists seemed like sanctioned leaks to minimize the effect torture had.

But whatever role he played, DOJ just charged him for leaking information–almost certainly about the Abu Zubaydah torture–to journalists.

A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was charged today with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced.

The charges result from an investigation that was triggered by a classified defense filing in January 2009, which contained classified information the defense had not been given through official government channels, and, in part, by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of certain government employees and contractors in the materials of high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions, one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou is alleged to have illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator, and that this information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. There are no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the detainees.

I’ll have more shortly. But one thing to remember is that Lanny Breuer represented Kiriakou in the two years leading up to 2009. And Patrick Fitzgerald is the prosecutor on this case.

Update: Here’s the NYT story cited in the press release. It’s a Scott Shane article on Deuce Martinez.

Update: Here’s one detail Kiriakou is alleged to have leaked (the quote is from the Shane story).

Armed with Abu Zubaydah’s cellphone number, eavesdropping specialists deployed what some called the “magic box,” an electronic scanner that could track any switched-on mobile phone and give its approximate location. But Abu Zubaydah was careful about security: he turned his phone on only briefly to collect messages, not long enough for his trackers to get a fix on his whereabouts. [my emphasis]

First of all, this information was readily available–they will have an interesting time proving this was classified. But I find it particularly ironic given the Jones decision that came down today.

Update: I’ve corrected the title and text to indicate that Kiriakou was charged, but not yet indicted.

4 replies
  1. scribe says:

    Gawd. Telling that cell phones could be tracked. The Supreme Court decided something about that (or along those lines) today.

    As I recall it (and it was unclassified) we were taught in the Army that the Soviets could DF (locate by direction finding) a tactical radio if you keyed your mike for more than 8 seconds. So, all your radio transmissions had to be less than 8 seconds and you wound up breaking your transmissions up into 5 or 6 second blocks.

    And that was, oh, about 30 or so years ago.

    To think. Primitive people engaged in the most serious, sophisticated terrist offensive against ‘murca hadn’t figured that out. Seems that the “secret”, such as it was, was never secret.

    That said, I have little sympathy for Kiriakou, given his hip-deep involvement in torture. Would that he rolls on Deadeye….

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    The DoJ press release says, ““Protecting the identities of America’s covert operatives is one of the most important responsibilities of those who are entrusted with roles in our nation’s intelligence community. The FBI and our intelligence community partners work diligently to hold accountable those who violate that special trust,” said Mr. McJunkin.”

    But the NY Times article includes a special note in regards to revealing the identity of Deuce Martinez:

    After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.

    So, was Martinez “covert” or not? He is elsewhere in the NY Times note described as “a career analyst at the agency.”

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