Bmaz just wrote a long post talking about the dilemma John Kiriakou faces as the government and his defense lawyers attempt to get him to accept a plea deal rather than go to trial for leaking the names of people–Thomas Donahue Fletcher and Deuce Martinez–associated with the torture program.
I’d like to look at four more aspects of this case:
- The timing of this plea deal–reflecting a realization on the part of DOJ that their efforts to shield Fletcher would fail
- CIA’s demand for a head
- The improper cession of a special counsel investigation to the US Attorney for Eastern Virginia
- The ongoing efforts to cover-up torture
The timing of the plea deal
Intelligence Identities Protection Act cases will always be risky to bring. By trying someone for leaking a CIA Agent’s identity, you call more attention to that identity. You risk exposing sources and methods in the course of proving the purportedly covert agent was really covert. And–as the case against Scooter Libby proved–IIPA often requires the testimony of spooks who lie to protect their own secrets.
There is a tremendous irony about this case in that John Kiriakou’s testimony in the Libby case would have gone a long way to prove that Libby knew Valerie Plame was covert when he started leaking her name, but now-Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer talked Patrick Fitzgerald out of having Kiriakou testify. Small world.
Bmaz notes that the docket suggests the rush to make a plea deal came after Leonie Brinkema ruled, on October 16, that the government didn’t need to prove Kiriakou intended to damage the country by leaking the names of a bunch of torturers. That ruling effectively made it difficult for Kiriakou to prove he was whistleblowing, by helping lawyers defending those who have been tortured figure out who the torturers were.
But the rush for a plea deal also comes after Matthew Cole and Julie Tate filed initial responses to Kiriakou’s subpoena on October 11. And after the government filed a sealed supplement to their CIPA motion that same day.
While both Cole and Tate argued that if they testified they’d have to reveal their confidential sources, Tate also had this to say in her declaration.
In 2008, my colleagues and I were investigating the CIA’s counterterrorism program now known as Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program” (the “RDI Program”).
I understand that defense counsel has subpoenaed me to testify about the methods I may have used to obtain the identity of CIA officers during 2008 while I was researching the RDI program.
Tate doesn’t say it explicitly, but it’s fairly clear she was able to get the identity of CIA officers involved in the torture program. Her use of the plural suggests she may have been able to get the identity of more than just Thomas Fletcher and Deuce Martinez. And she says she would have to reveal the research methods by which she was able to identify CIA officers who were supposedly covert.