John Kiriakou, author of “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror”, pleaded guilty to charges of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and was sentenced to 30 months in Federal Prison.
Initially, Kiriakou thought he was assisting in an FBI investigation, and only too happy to offer his services. About an hour into the interview he discovered that he was the subject of the investigation.
Previously, Mr. Kiriakou had worked for the CIA for nearly 15 years; first as an analyst and then as an operative. He was stationed undercover in pursuit of Al Qaeda operatives and other terrorist groups. Although he led the team that was responsible for the capture of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda logistic specialist, along with other militants that were captured in Pakistan, he is best known as the first former CIA operative who in 2007 appeared on numerous cable and network news shows ambivalently discussing waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques as torture and not very effective as an intelligence tool.
Although a varied collection of people including former spies, left-leaning critics of torture, a number of Liberty University (a Christian Right Institution) professors, as well as the famed director Oliver Stone all showed support for Mr. Kiriakou; nevertheless he became the first CIA agent to be convicted of leaking classified material to the media. His supporters found it an outrageous outcome for a man who had risked his life for his country.
It all started when references to Kiriakou’s emails to reporters and human rights’ inquirers containing contact information for other CIA personnel appeared in testimony submitted by defense attorneys for Guantanamo Bay detainees. One of the journalists known as Journalist B, aka Scott Shane, was looking for information about the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged architect of the September 11th World Trade Center bombings. Scott Shane already had the name of Deuce Martinez. Mr. Kiriakou confirmed the identity of the CIA contractor to the journalist as the best source for background information; while admitting that he had worked with Mr. Martinez on the Abu Zubaydah case. He emailed Mr. Shane his contact information. The confirmation of Mr. Martinez’ identity is one of the things that the government viewed as illegally disclosing classified information.
Mr. Kiriakou mistakenly believed another agent whose contact information he shared with Journalist A to have retired, and the journalist never used his name. However, the communication was done via email, and Mr. Kiriakou discovered, just as CIA boss General Petraeus was later to discover; that emails, not unlike diamonds, are forever.
Some think that the media attention he received for his opinions caused John Kiriakou to suffer a self-aggrandizement that led to his downfall. Kiriakou said that he was just being helpful.