As one of the lawyers for CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who has attended all of the public court proceedings, I was appalled and baffled by the bloodbath sentencing yesterday. The sentence itself was a foregone conclusion. Both sides had agreed, and the judge approved, 30 months for a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
But the secret evidence, resurrected dropped charges, and new “facts” never charged–most never heard until yesterday and never by seen by the defendant–should trouble every American regardless of what you think of John Kiriakou.
John and I appeared together yesterday on Independent Television News (UK), Al Jazeera’s “The Stream,” and a heartbreaking Al Jazeera piece with Alan Fisher. Some terrific articles include those of FireDogLake’s Kevin Gosztola, POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein, and Unredacted’s Lauren Harper.
The news reports on John Kiriakou’s sentence yesterday are incomplete because neither the public, nor the defendant, were privy to the secret “victim impact statement” filed by “Covert Officer A” (a fiction steadfastly maintained in court with a straight face though he has been reported widely to be Thomas Donahue Fletcher, who headed the controversial “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program at CIA headquarters, which included torture.)
The most surreal aspect of the sentencing was the huge emphasis placed on how Kiriakou’s action endangered the supposedly-undercover officer and damaged the CIA’s ability to collect intelligence. But the public never heard a single word about how exactly the officer’s life was “endangered” (only that some family members had not known he worked for the CIA) because that assessment was in a secret statement that even the defendant was not allowed to see–because the government pulled Kiriakou’s security clearance the day before–specifically so he could not see what “damage” he was about to go to jail for causing.
Then there were all the other allegations from the Indictment, which had been dropped, but were paraded in front of the public and judge purely for theatrical and prejudicial effect and to erode Kiriakou’s massive public support: that he leaked the name of “Covert Officer B,” a second operative involved in the capture of Abu Zubaida–widely known to be Deuce Martinez–who was passing out his business card, containing all his identifying and contact information, like it was candy. This count was dropped as part of the plea agreement, but you would never know that from the government resurrecting this allegation as fact yesterday during the crazy piling-on fest that masqueraded as a pro forma sentencing hearing.
The icing on the cake of this Kafkaesque case is that allegations the public and defendant never heard–and that were never charged in the indictment–surfaced for the first time ever yesterday: that Kiriakou outed “numerous” covert officers.
Every American should be alarmed that government prosecutors can level allegations against you that are never charged, and sentence you based on a secret report to which you have no access.
P.S. US Attorney Neil MacBride’s statement that
Kiriakou betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States and he betrayed his colleagues whose secrecy is their only safety
is belied by the facts that 1) the Pentagon IG found that Defense Department undersecretary Mike Vickers disclosed with impunity the identity of a covert U.S. Special Operations Command officer to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty and 2) supposedly-covert Tom Fletcher’s identity has been known for a decade by human rights activists and journalists, and because of this ill-conceived prosecution, is now know by all of America.