CIA’s Torturers Get Their Scalp

With the news that John Kiriakou will head to prison for 30 months, it’s worth remembering how he got sent there.

It started when CIA officers claimed that when Gitmo defense attorneys provided photos of their clients torturers to them–having independently discovered their identity–the torturers were put at risk. DOJ didn’t believe it was a security risk; CIA disagreed and went to John Brennan. And after Patrick Fitzgerald was brought in to mediate between DOJ and CIA, the prosecution of John Kiriakou resulted.

As a reminder of where this all started, it’s worth reading this March 15, 2010 Bill Gertz article which was, AFAIK, the first public report of the investigation into the John Adams Project. It describes a March 9, 2010 meeting between Fitzgerald and the CIA.

The dispute prompted a meeting Tuesday at CIA headquarters between U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald and senior CIA counterintelligence officials. It is the latest battle between the agency and the department over detainees and interrogations of terrorists.


According to U.S. officials familiar with the issue, the current dispute involves Justice Department officials who support an effort led by the American Civil Liberties Union to provide legal aid to military lawyers for the Guantanamo inmates. CIA counterintelligence officials oppose the effort and say giving terrorists photographs of interrogators has exposed CIA personnel and their families to possible terrorist attacks.


According to the officials, the dispute centered on discussions for a interagency memorandum that was to be used in briefing President Obama and senior administration officials on the photographs found in Cuba. Justice officials did not share the CIA’s security concerns about the risks posed to CIA interrogators and opposed language on the matter that was contained in the draft memorandum. The memo was being prepared for White House National Security Council aide John Brennan, who was to use it to brief the president.

The CIA insisted on keeping its language describing the case and wanted the memorandum sent forward in that form.

That meeting, of course, would have taken place the day after Fitzgerald was appointed. So immediately after Fitzgerald got put in charge of this investigation, he presumably moderated a fight between DOJ, which didn’t think detainee lawyers pursuing their clients’ torturers via independent means threatened to expose the torturers’ identity directly, and CIA, which apparently claimed to be worried.

What happened with Kiriakou’s sentencing today is many things. But it started as–and is still fundamentally a result of–an effort on the part of CIA to ensure that none of its torturers ever be held accountable for their acts, to ensure that the subjects of their torture never gain any legal foothold to hold them accountable.

The CIA has succeeded in making an object lesson of a man who betrayed their omerta.

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4 Responses to CIA’s Torturers Get Their Scalp

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @IlyaSomin @APribetic I love you law guys. So serious!
JimWhiteGNV RT @DionNissenbaum: Full statement from @MSF on US military investigation of Afghanistan attack that inaccurately targeted hospital: https:…
JimWhiteGNV @goldietaylor Wow. Mind blown. Will have to do that soon.
emptywheel How can you have Green Bean Poutine for Thanksgiving? Doesn't Canada still have the Queen on their money?
JimWhiteGNV @goldietaylor Wait. My Mom always served hers cold. Do you eat it warm or room temp?
emptywheel @JimWhiteGNV Maybe I'll Tandoori 13 of my enormous bird, which will still leave me more bird than I planned on baconning. . . . . . . Nah.
emptywheel RT @ModFarm: It wasn't on the first #Thanksgiving table. So, why is #cranberry sauce a turkey-day staple? https://t…
emptywheel @HuyTDo I'm sure they were. Point being Paris terrorists didn't avail themselves of Snowden revelations for OpSec tips @matthew_d_green
bmaz @ZoeTillman Restrepo??
bmaz @dmataconis Exactly, Candy! Does nobody else remember this??
bmaz @jaketapper Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Tapper.
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