Thursday, March 15, 2012

Please Help Defend Whistleblower, John Kiriakou

Peter Landesman at The Public Intelligence Blog is asking people to help in the defense of CIA officer Jon Kiriakou who is being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.

No one involved in the waterboarding of terror suspects has ever faced criminal charges, but John is facing charges for the "crime" of having talked honestly to journalists about what happened and who did it. If convicted, John could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

We write to ask you to join us in supporting, protecting and materially helping our friend and colleague, John Kiriakou, a long-time former C.I.A. official and case officer. Incredibly, John has been accused by the Department of Justice of crimes under the 1917 Espionage Act, a charge historically reserved for persons who betrayed their country to foreign governments for money.

Why? The prosecutors have not claimed that John talked to any foreign government, passed any government documents or accepted funds from anyone hostile to the United States. Instead, according to the facts asserted in the indictment, he committed the “crime” of responding honestly to a query from the New York Times related to the agency’s interrogation program under the Bush Administration, which included waterboarding.

We know the government wants to send a signal to the lawyers representing prisoners at Guantanamo that the U.S. is intent on protecting its secrets from disclosure in cases relating to torture, and wants to chill further disclosures by anyone. But this is a case that should never have been brought anywhere – let alone in a country that values free speech and the protections of the First Amendment.

Journalists covering national security issues understand the stakes here, and what this case represents. A recent New York Times column described how the White House press secretary opened a briefing by honoring Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid for having sacrificed their lives “in order to bring truth” while reporting in Syria. Referring to John Kiriakou, the White House correspondent for ABC News asked in response how the administration could square supporting journalism in distant lands while “aggressively
trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”

While no one involved in the waterboarding of terror suspects has ever faced criminal charges, John now stands in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice for the “crime” of having talked honestly to journalists about what happened and who did it.

If convicted, John could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison. The irony is extraordinary. For more than 14 years, John worked in the field and at home, under conditions of great peril and stress and at great personal sacrifice, dedicating himself to protecting America and Americans from harm at home and abroad.

The Justice Department’s actions have created huge pressures on John and his family. John and Heather have five children – the youngest less than a year old – and face the challenge of raising them while simultaneously fighting the people at the CIA, FBI and Justice Department who are determined to send John to prison.

John’s defense will cost more than half a million dollars, even as John and Heather struggle to hold onto their home and maintain their family. To help them, we have established a trust for the John Kiriakou Legal Defense Fund. Every contribution is a gift — please consider making a contribution today. All donors and donation amounts will be kept strictly confidential.

Every penny of your contribution will help make it possible for John Kiriakou to defend himself and to stand up for the principle that in the United States, no one should go to jail for answering questions from a New York Times reporter about torture.

Friends of John Kiriakou
Please help defend John Kiriakou

Please help Defend John Kiriakou

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