John Kiriakou served in the CIA from 1990 until March 2004. As a senior operations officer, he became chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan following the September 11 attacks. This tour culminated in the March 2002 capture of Abu Zubaydah, al-Qa’ida’s third-ranking official. Upon his return from Pakistan, John was named Executive Assistant to the CIA’s Deputy Director for Operations, where he was principal Iraq briefer for the Director of the CIA. In addition, he was a senior investigator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he focused on international terrorism, piracy, and counternarcotics. He also served as senior intelligence advisor.
On December 10, 2007, Kiriakou gave an interview to ABC News where he was described as participating in the capture and questioning of Abu Zubaydah, who is accused of having been an aide to Osama Bin Laden. According to Kiriakou, based on what he had been told by the CIA, it had taken only a single brief instance of waterboarding to extract answers to an interrogator's questions from Abu Zubaydah. In reality, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, and that little or no useful extra information may have been gained by "harsh methods". However, even when Kiriakou believed-- from the CIA--that Zubayda was waterboarded only once, he acknowledged that even the "mild" waterboarding he described constituted a form of torture and he expressed reservations about whether the value of the information was worth the damage done to the U.S. reputation.
Fast forward to Monday, January 23, 2012, and Kiriakou was charged as the first official to confirm the waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, which he described as torture. On April 5, he was indicted: one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, three counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917--only used three times prior to the Obama administration, who has used it against six government officials-- and one count of making false statements for allegedly lying to the Publications Review Board of the CIA. Soon after, Kiriakou pleaded not guilty, and was released on bail.
In a plea deal, on Monday, October 22, 2012, he changed his mind and agreed to plead guilty to one count of passing classified information to the media thereby violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; sparing journalists from testifying in a trial. Then, on January 25, 2013, Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months--two-and-a-half years-- in prison.
Days after he was sentenced to 30 months in prison, John Kiriakou — the first CIA official to be jailed for any reason relating to the torture program — denounces President Obama’s appointment of John Brennan to head the CIA.
"I’ve known John Brennan since 1990. I worked directly for John Brennan twice. I think that he is a terrible choice to lead the CIA. I think that it’s time for the CIA to move beyond the ugliness of the post-September 11th regime, and we need someone who is going to respect the Constitution and to not be bogged down by a legacy of torture." -- John KiriakouThe bottom line is that out of all of the people involved in the CIA's illegal torture program, he's the only person who will go to jail, not for torturing anyone, but for exposing the use of this suffocation technique.
Talk About Politicizing Intelligence! Meet John Brennan, CIA Chief Designee