(MintPress) – John Kiriakou became the first ex-Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent charged with speaking out against U.S. torture programs during the Bush administration. The 14-year veteran of the CIA will spend 30 months in prison after admitting to a single violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. This hasn’t slowed Kiriakou, who remains a vehement opponent speaking out against CIA torture before he begins his sentence.
Kiriakou was charged with revealing the identity of a covert officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. In reality, the trumped-up charges are designed to silence a critic on the inside, with full knowledge of CIA torture in anti-terror intelligence operations.
The charge reveals the hypocrisy of the U.S. government’s selective prosecution of those who speak out against torture rather than pursuing the actual criminals. Although the unnamed journalist did not publish the name of the CIA torturer, the action was enough to land Kiriakou in prison for more than two years.
Criminals walk free
A group of activists and former CIA agents have sent a letter to Barack Obama urging the President to commute Kiriakou’s sentence and prosecute those guilty of actual crimes, including torture.
The ex-agent spent 14 years working as a case officer for the CIA, but turned against his former employer due to his opposition to torture, a method of interrogation that Kiriakou believes violates the U.S. Constitution.
“This … was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture. And I believe I’m going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture,” Kiriakou said.
He adds: “My oath was to the Constitution … And to me, torture is unconstitutional.” The controversy dates back to a 2007 interview in which Kiriakou described waterboarding as a form of torture, a first-of-its-kind classification during a time when the Bush and the CIA insisted that waterboarding was a legitimate method used during interrogation.
Kiriakou was chief of operations for the CIA in Pakistan in 2002. He helped capture several high level Al-Qaeda targets, including Abu Zubaydah. After questioning Abu Zubaydah for several hours, Kiriakou later found that his colleagues had tortured the Al-Qaeda operative, a policy that Kiriakou opposed at the time, and continues to oppose today.
Despite revealing names of true criminals, those who torture under the guise of national security have been allowed to walk free without being charged for crimes.
Waterboarding at Gitmo
Waterboarding, a form of torture that simulates the sensation of drowning, was considered an “enhanced interrogation” method under the Bush administration. The U.S. used torture to gain information from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison — leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden and other high level targets.
However, torture is not only immoral, it escalates anti-American sentiment worldwide, putting troops and U.S. citizens abroad in danger.
The Guantanamo Bay prison remains a blight to an already abysmal U.S. human rights record. Despite promising to close the prison during his campaign in 2008, Obama has yet to shut down the facility that currently houses 167 inmates, all of whom are denied basic rights and due process of law.
Earlier this month, hundreds of protesters in opposition to Guantanamo on the 11th anniversary of the prison’s opening. The solution remains within reach for the U.S. and would require releasing prisoners, trying them for crimes in U.S. courts, or transferring them to actual U.S. prisons.
This point is confirmed by human rights organizations and legal experts advocating for an end to torture and illegal imprisonment at Guantanamo.
“Amnesty is calling for Obama to close Guantanamo. It has been over a decade of human rights violations. Our campaign has been going on for years pressing the government to resolve the cases by either trying the prisoners or releasing them,” said Amnesty spokesperson Zeke Johnson in an interview with Mint Press News.