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ANATOMY OF TORTURE — Historian Christopher Dietrich on the 100-year-long history of American torture; Jeffrey St. Clair on the implications of giving impunity to the CIA’s torturers; Chris Floyd on how the US has exported torture to its client states around the world. David Macaray on the Paradoxes of Police Unions; Louis Proyect on Slave Rebellions in the Open Seas; Paul Krassner on the Perils of Political Cartooning; Martha Rosenberg on the dangers of Livestock Shot-up with Antibiotics; and Lee Ballinger on Elvis, Race and the Poor South. Plus: Mike Whitney on Greece and the Eurozone and JoAnn Wypijewski on Media Lies that Killed.
The CIA and Democracy, Never!

A Conversation With CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou

by DOUGLAS VALENTINE

John Kiriakou is widely known as the former CIA case officer who, in an interview with ABC News in late 2007, confirmed that the CIA had tortured prisoner Abu Zubaydah, an alleged member of al Qaeda, on the waterboard.

Kiriakou was aware of only one instance in which Zubaydah was waterboarded, but his revelations set off a slew of investigations that sent America’s secret clique of torturers and their political bosses running for cover. Even the Senate, with feigned sincerity, initiated an investigation in 2009.

The vicious CIA wasn’t pleased, to put it mildly, nor was the Obama administration, which sicced the FBI on Kiriakou. As the controversy percolated and the authorities closed in, Kiriakou became a bit of a media sensation. Caught off guard by the flurry of attention (wanted and unwanted), he perhaps inadvertently violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing, among other things, the name of a covert CIA officer.

Facing 40 years in stir, Kiriakou copped a plea in October 2012. In February 2013 he entered the federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He was released in February 2015 with an entirely new perspective on America’s racist, sadistic, but highly profitable “corrections” industry.

John Kiriakou, however, was not an ordinary convict. While in prison he enjoyed the blessings of the Reverend Farrakhan and, as an acknowledged “human rights guy” was protected from many of the harsh realities most inmates endure. He received mail from thousands of supporters and maintained a popular blog, Letters from Loretto that got him in trouble with the Bureau of Prisons. But as a celebrity with a powerful attorney, he escaped additional punishments.

That doesn’t mean Kiriakou has it easy. The fascist law enforcement establishment considers him a traitor who got off easy and would love nothing better than to get its claws in him again. Many of his former CIA colleagues feel the same way, and the unforgiving CIA reviews and censors his writings. So he must be cautious in his statements about the CIA (including, one might deduce, those he made in this interview), and thus his answers sometimes have the intonations of a talking head issuing well-practiced sound bites.

This is not a typical interview with someone who has freedom of speech. But then again, John Kiriakou is an unusual man accustomed to navigating dangerous waters.

After being recruited into the CIA by a college “talent scout”, Kiriakou spent his first eight years in the Agency as a Middle East analyst specializing on Iraq. In 1998 he transferred to the sexier Operations Division and later its premier counter-terrorism branch. The 9-11 terror attacks catapulted him into prominence as chief of CT Ops in Pakistan, in which capacity he ran an agent network that located numerous Al Qaeda...

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