The vindictive prosecution of CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou

Kevin Gosztola writes: The government is pursuing a “selective” and “vindictive” prosecution against former CIA agent John Kiriakou, according to a defense motion to dismiss charges recently cleared for public release and posted by Secrecy News. Kiriakou was indicted in April for allegedly releasing classified information to journalists that included the identities of a “covert CIA officer” and details on the role of “another CIA employee in classified activities.” The Justice Department charged him with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and three counts of violating the Espionage Act, along with a count for “allegedly lying to the Publications Review Board of the CIA” so he could include classified information in his book.

The motion argues Kiriakou is not being prosecuted for the “acts alleged” in the indictment. Rather, he is being prosecuted because, on December 10, 2007, he “gave an interview to ABC News in which he stated that the United States had engaged in torture of detainees captured in the war on terror. In 2009, Kiriakou further challenged the government policy in favor of torturing terror suspects when he stated that he did not think torture was effective.”

It declares this is why “the government has seized upon the current allegations of improper disclosures to prosecute him, even though numerous other individuals that have communicated the same or similar information have not faced prosecution.” Furthermore:

Prosecutorial decisions are given great deference. Nonetheless, when the government chooses among similarly-situated people and charges only those who have publicly spoken out against the government’s position, the government engages in selective prosecution. When the government chooses to punish an individual based on animus, the government engages in vindictive prosecution. When either of those scenarios occurs, the government has exercised its prosecutorial powers impermissibly and unconstitutionally, and the indictment should be dismissed.

To back up the argument that Kiriakou is being selectively prosecuted, the defense outlines multiple instances where individuals leaked names of covert operatives to the press and connected “particular individuals to allegedly classified programs.” In August 2011, the New Yorker “published an article [“Getting Bin Laden”] about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.” Writer Nicholas Schmidle “stated that he knew the identities of the Seal Team which executed the operation.” On March 24, 2012, Greg Miller of the Washington Post “published an article profiling the director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center [“At CIA, a convert to Islam leads the terrorism hunt”]. The CTC director’s name is not “public knowledge.” Miller could not publish the director’s real name because he works “undercover.” Numerous CIA and Federal Bureau of Invetigation (FBI) sources discussed the CIA, the director (“Roger”) and how he is the “principle architect of the CIA’s drone program.”

On May 3, 2012, CNN’s terrorism correspondent Peter Bergen appeared on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart to promote his book, Manhunt: The 10 Year Search for Bin Laden – from 9/11 to Abbottabad. He mentioned high-level sources in the CIA, Defense Department and White House he had interviewed. In the same month, CIA officials leaked details on a CIA underwear bomb plot sting operation in Yemen to the Associated Press while the operation was still technically in progress. And, finally, on June 1, 2012, the New York Times published an article on cyber warfare against Iran by David Sanger [“Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran”]. Sources from the White House Situation Room were quoted. While the Justice Department has appointed two attorneys to investigate the leaks from officials on the bomb plot sting op and the cyber warfare against Iran, there are no known investigations into the other instances where sources in the government spoke to reporters and no sources for news reports have been slapped with criminal charges. [Continue reading…]

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