Did Covert Officer A–Whose Identity John Kiriakou Allegedly Leaked–Leave the CIA?

DOJ has apparently failed in its efforts to get John Kiriakou to agree to a plea deal; they’ve just indicted him.

Interestingly, the indictment describes Covert Officer A–whose identity Kiriakou allegedly leaked–differently than the complaint did. The complaint described him this way:

Covert Officer A is currently a covert CIA employee whose relationship to the CIA has been classified for more than two decades.

Here’s how the indictment describes him:

Covert Officer A was a covert CIA employee whose association with the CIA has been classified for more than two decades. Covert Office A was a covert agent as defined at Title 50, United States Code, Section 426(4), and the United States Government was taking affirmative measures to conceal Covert Officer A’s intelligence relationship to the United States. The association of Covert Officer A with the [Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation] Program was also classified and constituted national defense information. [my emphasis]

With the exception of the bolded passage, the information on Covert Officer A’s relationship to the CIA is now all past tense.

Which suggests several possibilities: That Covert Officer A’s status has been changed to permit this prosecution; Covert Officer A is no longer covert (though is still classified); Covert Officer A has left the CIA; or that Covert Officer A is no longer alive. Update: DOJ says this is the way they normally write their indictments.

Alternately (given the way the CIA screws up leak investigations) maybe they were giving Pat Fitzgerald bad information during the investigation. Nahh! The CIA wouldn’t screw up another leak prosecution, would they?

Update: Compare how they describe Covert Officer A with how they describe Deuce Martinez–whose employment, but not identity–is described in the past tense.

Officer B was employed by the CIA as an analyst assigned to the CIA Counterterrorism Center. Though the fact that the CIA employed Officer B was not itself classified, the associations of Officer B with the RDI Program and with the Abu Zubaydah operation were classified and constituted national defense information.

Update: The DOJ announcement says Covert Officer A “remains covert.”


Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. pdaly says:

    Maybe the past tense refers to ‘at the time that John Kiriakou leaked the officer’s identity.’ Talking about associations with CIA in present tense(as in the complaint) are maybe new breaches of classified information.

    btw, this sentence is missing a word:
    “Which suggests several possibilities: That Covert Officer A’s(relationship to the CIA?)has been changed to permit”

  2. pdaly says:

    oops. I realized that you already covered that possibility that mentioning associations with CIA in present tense (as in the complaint) are maybe new breaches of classified information:

    “Covert Officer A is no longer covert (though is still classified)”

  3. MadDog says:

    Given the supposed evidence, I’d hazard a guess that any plea deal was scarcely worthy of its name.

    If one was offered, was it something like 10 years in prison and they’ll drop the $250K fine?

    Or conversely, is a plea deal is still on offer with the indictment designed to ratchet up the pressure before the arraignment deadline next week of April 13?

    Robert Trout, one of Kiriakou’s lawyers, apparently declined comment.

  4. lysias says:

    the United States Government was taking affirmative measures to conceal Covert Officer A’s intelligence relationship to the United States.

    That makes it sound as if Covert Officer A is a foreign national.

    Now, what Pole would have had a secret relationship with the CIA for more than 20 years?

    I can’t help but think about what current Polish Foreign Minister (and Defense Minister while the secret CIA prison was operating) Radoslaw Sikorski was doing about 20 years ago:

    In the mid-1980s, Sikorski worked as a freelance journalist for publications such as The Spectator and The Observer. In 1986, he travelled to Afghanistan as a war correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph. He won the World Press Photo award in 1987 for a photograph of a family killed in a bombing by the Afghan Air Force.[7] In 1989, he became the chief foreign correspondent for the American magazine National Review, writing from Afghanistan and Angola. In 1990–91 he was the Sunday Telegraph’s Warsaw correspondent.

    From 1988 to 1992 he advised Rupert Murdoch on investing in Poland.

    Sikorski returned to Poland in August 1989. He briefly served as deputy defence minister in the Jan Olszewski government in 1992. During this tenure, he initiated Poland’s NATO entry ambitions and supported the removal of Soviet troops from Polish territory.

  5. orionATL says:

    “… The DOJ announcement says Covert Officer A “remains covert.” …”

    so why the fuss if she remains covert?

    if she “remains covert”, k has not done the harm doj claims, right?

    what doj needs to prove is that she lost her covert status due to k’s actions, but that apparently is not what happened, according to prosecutors charging kiriakou.

    that our president tolerates such repeated doj attacks on individuals, but prohibits prosecutorial attacks on institutions, e.g., banks, cia, sec, fda, dod, ovp, federal reserve, fannies may and mack

    is a decisive comment on his failure of leadership and his fitness to be president.

  6. orionATL says:

    we couldn’t be fortunate enough that the name leaked was “plame”, could we?

    what was the name leaked?

    where was it published?

    what was the damage, if any?

  7. orionATL says:


    kariakou’s real offense was that he criticized the cia.

    his punishment for doing so is a niggling interpretation of statutes designed to terrify him as well as other would-be critics.

    by attacking k, rather than protecting his right and obligation as a citizen to criticize gov’t institutions and programs,

    the administration allows intimidation of former employees to rule the day, which in turn allows the secret agency to increase its power and diminishes criticism and oversight.

    i can’t imagine a worse outcome for a society like ours which has been moving rapidly moving toward military/police/cia/nsa authoritarianism over the last decade.

    that a democratic president who is also a constitutional law “scholar” would allow this to happen speaks loudly about the quality of obama’s leadership.

  8. Duncan Hare says:

    Clearly he is guilty of the most horrendous crime.

    Embarrassing his superiors.

    That’s the worst crime any official or employee can commit.

    In the past the result was immediate execution “Off with his head”.

    Today we are a little more civilized. We spill his blood slowly as it sweats out of his pores.

Comments are closed.