Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is serving a thirty-month sentence in prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written another letter. It expresses support for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has exposed secret US government surveillance programs and policies, and provided a glimpse of the ever-expanding massive surveillance apparatus the government has built.
Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the administration of President George W. Bush. He was convicted in October of last year of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter and sentenced in January of this year. He reported to prison on February 28 (which was also the day that Pfc. Bradley Manning pled guilty to some offenses and read a statement in military court at Fort Meade).
This is the second letterto be published by Firedoglake since Kiriakou went to prison. He sent it to his attorney, Jesselyn Radack, of the Government Accountability Project.
In the letter, Kiriakou offers advice to Snowden from his experience, suggesting that he “find the best national security attorneys money can buy.” He suggests establishing a website for supporters to follow his case, get his side of the story and make donations to support his defense.
Also, he declares, “You’re going to need the support of prominent Americans and groups who can explain to the public why what you did is so important.” He recommends reaching out to the American Civil Liberties Union, Government Accountability Project and other organizations like them who value individual freedoms and can advise him.
His “most important advice,” as he writes, is to “not, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI.”
Based off experience, he adds, “FBI agents will lie, trick and deceive you. They will twist your words and play on your patriotism to entrap you.”
Kiriakou had spent his adult life working with the FBI. They asked him to come in for questioning in January 2012. He was willing to do anything to help. An hour into the interview, he realized he was the one under investigation. In fact, a search warrant was being executed on his house and, from that point forward right up until sentencing, the FBI followed him wherever he went tracking his every move, even when he was with his family.
According to Kiriakou, the FBI also tried to set him up. As he told Firedoglake before he was sentenced to prison:
In the summer of 2010, a foreign intelligence officer offered me cash in exchange for classified information. I turned down the pitch and I immediately reported it to the FBI. So, the FBI asked me to take the guy out to lunch and to ask him what information he wanted and how much information he was willing to give me for it. They were going to put two agents at a nearby table. They ended up canceling the two agents but they asked me to go ahead with the lunch so I did.
After the lunch, I wrote a long memo to the FBI — and I did this four or five times.It turns out – and we only learned this three or four weeks ago – there never was a foreign intelligence officer. It was an FBI agent pretending to be an intelligence officer and they were trying to set me up on an Espionage Act charge but I repeatedly reported the contact so I foiled them in their effort to set me up.
Snowden has mentioned Kiriakou. He considers him an example of “how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures.” He was aware of his case before he blew the whistle and it was a preview of what he needed to prepare for after his act of conscience.
In a previous letter, Kiriakou detailed his life in prison, including an incident in which prison officials attempted setup a confrontation between Kiriakou and a Muslim prisoner, telling Kiriakou he was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, when in reality the imam was in prison for refusing to testify in the Lackawanna Six case. Prison officials also lied to the Muslim prisoner, telling him that Kiriakou had called Washington after they met and had been ordered to kill him.
Firedoglake supports the right of prisoners like Kiriakou to exercise their First Amendment rights from within the walls of prison. It is unknown what retaliation, if any, Kiriakou has experienced as a result of his decision to begin writing “Letters from Loretto.” But, as an organization, we stand ready to support him if the Bureau of Prisons is subjecting him to mistreatment because he has chosen to be public about what he is experiencing in prison.
Transcript: “Letter From Loretto”
An Open Letter to Edward Snowden
Thank you for your revelations of government wrong-doing over the past week. You have done the country a great public service. I know that it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but as Americans begin to realize that we are devolving into a police state, with the loss of civil liberties that entails, they will see your actions for what they are: heroic. Remember the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” That is what’s happening to our country now. Your whistleblowing will help to save us.
I wanted to offer you the benefit of my own whistleblowing experience and aftermath so that you don’t make the same mistakes that I made.
First, find the best national security attorneys money can buy. I was blessed to be represented by legal titans and, although I was forced to take a plea in the end, the shortness of my sentence is a testament to their expertise.
Second, establish a website so that your supporters can follow your case, get your side of the story, and most importantly, make donations to support your defense.
Third, you’re going to need the support of prominent Americans and groups who can explain to the public why what you did is so important. Although most members of Congress are mindless lemmings following our national security leadership over a cliff, there are several clear thinkers on The Hill who could be important sources of support. Cultivate them. Reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Government Accountability Project and others like them who value our individual freedoms and who can advise you.
Finally, and this is the most important advice that I can offer, DO NOT, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI. FBI agents will lie, trick, and deceive you. They will twist your words and play on your patriotism to entrap you. They will pretend to be people they are not – supporters, well-wishers, and friends – all the while wearing wires to record your out-of-context statements to use against you. The FBI is the enemy; it’s a part of the problem, not the solution.
I wish you the very best of luck. I hope you can get to Iceland quickly and safely. There you will find a people and a government who care about the freedoms that we hold dear and for which our forefathers and veterans fought and died.
Sincerely, John Kiriako