Former CIA officer and torture whistleblower John Kiriakou plead guilty on Tuesday to a charge of revealing an undercover operative's identity, a case that whistleblower advocates say shows continued immunity for torturers while those who expose the torture are prosecuted.
Kiriakou, who served in the CIA from 1990 to 2004, "is best known," Democracy Now! reports, "for a 2007 ABC News interview detailing how Zubaydah was waterboarded in CIA custody."
NBC News reports on the plea bargain Kiriakou accepted Tuesday:
Kiriakou, who initially pleaded not guilty to five federal charges, pleaded guilty to a single count at a hearing at U.S. District Court in Virginia. Under a plea bargain, he is expected to serve 30 months in prison when he is formally sentenced on Jan. 25. Prosecutors, in return, agreed to ask that the Bureau of Prisons let him serve his time at a minimum security camp in Pennsylvania.
Kiriakou, 48, was accused of furnishing classified secrets to a New York Times reporter -- and lying to the government -- about another CIA officer's role in the capture of Abu Zubaydah, the former high-ranking al-Qaida leader who was waterboarded more than 80 times after his capture.
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RT explains that "Kiriakou was originally charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 after he went public with the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of waterboarding on captured insurgents in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. On Monday morning, though, legal counsel for the accused former CIA agent informed the court that Kiriakou was willing to plead guilty to a lesser crime."
Jesselyn Radack of whistleblower advocate organization Government Accountablity Project wrote Tuesday: "Let's be clear, there is one reason, and one reason only that John Kiriakou is taking this plea: for the certainty that he'll be out of jail in 2 1/2 years to see his five children grow up."
Radack adds that the prosecution of Kiriakou is an example of continued torture cover-ups: "The only person to be criminal prosecuted, and now likely jailed, as a result of the Bush-era torture regime is John Kiriakou, who refused to participate in torture, helped expose the program, and said on national television that torture was wrong."
In a similiar comment on twisted sense of judgement of such prosecutions, State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren recently wrote that "no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it."
The message Kiriakou's prosecution sends is clear, Van Buren writes: "Do the country’s dirty work, kidnap, kill, imprison, torture, and we’ll cover for you. Destroy the evidence of all that and we’ll reward you. But speak out, and expect to be punished."