The Persecution of U.S. Political Prisoner & Whistleblower John Kiriakou

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Jay Syrmopoulos
Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times.

Imprisoned CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who is currently serving a thirty-month sentence in Loretto Federal Correctional Institution, in his most recent letter from prison alleges to have been threatened by a “senior prison official.” In the letter, Kiriakou states that he was told that there has been discussion amongst prison officials of engaging him in “diesel therapy” for the remainder of his sentence.

“Diesel therapy” is a method of continually moving a prisoner from prison to prison across the country via bus, van, or plane. This continual movement results in the inmate being unable to receive calls, mail, or visitation. In many cases family members and even the attorney don’t know where the inmate is located at any given moment.

Mr. Kiriakou suggests these actions “would obviously be retaliation for his press interviews” and his “Letters from Loretto.” Of course, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) could claim it is due to “bedspace” or “safety” issues.

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There is an obvious and continuing pattern of persecution and abuse, against Mr. Kiriakou, that has been taking place since becoming the first CIA official to publically admit that torture was official U.S. policy under President George W. Bush’s administration. This action immediately made him a target of the military/security/intelligence complex and its political cronies.

Kiriakou believes what is currently taking place in the U.S. is a new form of McCarthyism saying,

“…(It’s) all a part of the plan to force the whistleblower into personal ruin, to weaken him to the point where he will plead guilty to just about anything to make the case go away. I know. The three espionage charges against me made me one of ‘the Obama Seven.’

In early 2012, I was arrested and charged with three counts of espionage and one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA). (I was only the second person in US history to be charged with violating the IIPA, a law that was written to be used against rogues like Philip Agee.)Two of my espionage charges were the result of a conversation I had with a New York Times reporter about torture. I gave him no classified information – only the business card of a former CIA colleague who had never been undercover. The other espionage charge was for giving the same unclassified business card to a reporter for ABC News. All three espionage charges were eventually dropped.

So, why charge me in the first place?

It was my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program and for confirming to the press, despite government protestations to the contrary, that the US government was, indeed, in the business of torture.

Many of us believed that the torture policy was solely a Bush-era perversion. But many of these perversions, or at least efforts to cover them up or justify them, have continued under President Obama.

Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, declared a war on whistleblowers virtually as soon as they assumed office. Some of the investigations began during the Bush administration, as was the case with NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, but Espionage Act cases have been prosecuted only under Obama. The president has chosen to ignore the legal definition of whistleblower – any person who brings to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse or illegality – and has prosecuted truthtellers.”

Mr. Kiriakou eventually plead guilty to the IIPA violation, with the three counts of espionage being dropped. He was sentenced in January of 2013, reporting to the prison on February 28th, 2013. Since that day, Kirakou has been a continual target of an orchestrated campaign of harassment, intimidation tactics, and rights violations by corrections officials, as documented in his “Letters from Loretto”, which began being published on website Firedoglake in the summer of 2013.

The letters ceased for a while after being promised by prison officials that if he quit writing he could serve out the final nine months of his sentence in a halfway house. When the prison reneged on its promise, the letters resumed.

The Bureau of Prisons, with CIA complicity, engaged in attempting to stop Kirakou from sending letters from prison. According to Firedoglake, on August 30, 2013, he was “forced to sign” a “memo” from the United States Justice Department that stated he was “legally obligated to clear everything” he wrote “for publication with the CIA’s Publication Review Board (PRB).” The Special Investigative Service “was now demanding that I give all future ‘Letters from Loretto’ to them, and they would sent it on to the CIA,” he asserts. He was not “permitted to send a copy” to his attorney or seek any legal advice before signing the memo. “Failure to follow” would “result in disciplinary action.”

His attorney, Mark MacDougall, immediately called him after finally receiving a copy of the “memo” and said what Kirakou was being required to do was “illegal, unconstitutional, and unenforceable.”

Additionally, Mr. Kiriakou was placed on Central Inmate Monitoring, which is reserved for prisoners who “present special needs management.” According to BOP policy, it’s to make the “institution environment safe… (using) case management decisions based on accurate information and sound correctional judgment.”

The only reason he even found out about the CIM designation was that he had filed a FOIA request on himself. Five of the pages were marked, “FOIA Exempt: Do Not Release to Inmate.” BOP policy states, “The case manager shall ensure that affected inmate is notified in writing as promptly as possible of the classification and basis for it.” Mr. Kiriakou was never at any time notified of this designation.

According to Mr. Kiriakou, “Specifically the documents cautioned, ‘PUBLICITY- Inmate has broad access to the press. Attached are articles the inmate has been mentioned in.”

Kiriakou went on to say, “The Bureau of Prisons is afraid of you knowing what the prison system is really like. They’re afraid of the public disclosure that they don’t bother to follow their own rules. They’re afraid that you’ll learn that they can violate the law with impunity. They’re afraid of ‘Letters from Loretto’.”

Actions of the federal government have shown it to be extremely fearful of the truths this persecuted political prisoner has to share with world. The feds are willing to break their own rules, guidelines, and policies in an attempt to silence him and suppress him from exercising his 1st Amendment rights. The continuing tyrannical oppression of this man is beyond reprehensible. Keep speaking truth to power Mr. Kiriakou, your message is being heard.

Follow Jay on Facebook and on Twitter @SirMetropolis 

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