The former CIA analyst who spoke out against the agency’s use of torture says he’s been deemed a “threat to public safety” and is serving his prison sentence in a crowded jail cell despite being promised admission to a federal work camp.
John Kiriakou, 48, has been at Loretto Federal Correctional
Institution near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since February after he
took a plea deal offered by the federal government. He was facing
decades in prison if convicted under the charge initially lobbed
by the US Department of Justice, violating the Espionage Act, but
the government allowed him last year to plead guilty to a single
count of disclosing information that identified a covert agent in
exchange for a lesser sentence.
Kiriakou made headlines in 2007 when he spoke at length to
reporters at ABC News about the Central Intelligence Agency’s use
of waterboarding as an interrogation tool against suspected
terrorists. Prior to the interview he spent several years working
for the agency abroad following the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001, serving as head of counterterrorism
operations in Pakistan before leaving the CIA and condemning his
country’s use of torture. Now three months into his prison
sentence, the website Firedoglake has published the first of
Kiriakou’s “Letters from Loretto.”
“I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month
sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection act
of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to
believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle
on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public
that torture was official US government policy,” Kiriakou
writes. “But that’s a different story. The purpose of this
letter is to tell you about prison life.”
Despite being told by prosecutors and the presiding judge that
he’d serve his sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp, Kiriakou
says he has been held at the main facility because the Bureau of
Prisons deemed him a “threat to the public safety.”
“My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block.
Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold
eight,” he writes.
Kiriakou says he volunteered to teach fellow prisoners as part of
Loretto’s GED program, but his counselor dismissed his request.
He now works as a janitor in the prison’s chapel and makes just
over five dollars a
In regards to the other inmates, Kiriakou says he’s been largely
accepted into the prison.
“My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was
a CIA hitman. The Aryans whispered that I was a ‘Muslim hunter,’
but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and
a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have
lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the
Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they
are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as
well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped
several of them write communication appeals or letters to judges
and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me
because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs,
have told them to. So far, so good,” he writes.
Elsewhere, Kiriakou says that Loretto’s Special Investigative
Service, “the prison version of every police department’s
detective bureau,” tried to convince him that a fellow
inmate, allegedly the uncle of an accused terrorist, was told to
“But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense.
Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a
low-security prison?” he writes.
“In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to
Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill
him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to
get us to attack each other. If we had, we could have spent the
rest of our sentences in the SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re
friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we
chat,” he says.
He also says that his cell was ransacked by prison officials in a
shake-down after correcting a guard who mispronounced his name.
“Lesson learned: [Corrections officers] can treat us like
subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s
not earned,” he says.
Kiriakou is expected to finish his sentence in August 2015.
Before going to Loretto, he said at an event in Washington, “I
never tortured anybody, but I’m heading to prison while the
torturers and the lawyers
who papered over it and the people who deceived it and the men
who destroyed the proof of it—the tapes— will never face
In 2012, Kiriakou was indicted on one count of violating the
Intelligence Identities Protection Act, three counts of violating
the Espionage Act, and one count of making false statements. He
pleaded to the IIPA violation last October, prompting then-CIA
director David Petraeus to hail the conviction.
“This case yielded the first IIPA successful prosecution in 27
years, and it marks an important victory for our Agency, for our
Intelligence Community, and for our country,” Petraeus said.
“Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those
who believe they are above the laws.” Petraeus resigned two
months later after it was revealed that he had an extramarital
affair with his biographer.
This article originally appeared on: RT