CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed the treatment of al Qaeda suspects held in secret prisons, told the Bureau today it was now down to journalists to “tell the full story” about the intelligence agency’s torture programme because politicians did not have the will.
In a video interview on the last day of his house arrest recorded for the Bureau by film-maker Tarquin Ramsay, the former CIA counter-terrorism analyst called on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to release more details from its 6,000-page report on CIA torture completed last December.
The committee published a heavily redacted 525-page executive summary, which contained shocking details about “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Kiriakou said the release of more details was vital, not only for accountability, but also to avoid a repeat of the programme in the future.
“If the next president decides he wants to torture prisoners, all he needs is a stroke of his pen. We need legislation that will permanently and formally outlaw torture,” he said.
“So while it’s nice to have a redacted version of the executive summary out there in the public, there really hasn’t been any real change – nothing we can point to as a success for human rights… It’s up to journalists to get the full story because certainly the government won’t tell us.”
Kiriakou believes he was the “fall guy” for the CIA’s torture programme. He blew the whistle on the interrogation operation, becoming the first US government official to confirm the use of waterboarding. He continues to believe what he did was right.
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He was sentenced to 30 months in jail in January 2013 for revealing classified material of CIA undercover identities.
Kiriakou also makes criticisms of Washington politicians, many of whom wanted the details of the Senate report redacted. He said torturing prisoners neither worked nor prevented any terrorist attacks.
His remarks come as The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Rendition Project published the first comprehensive profiles of the 119 people secretly detained and tortured by the CIA. You can read our full report, view our infographic and see the full data here.
Kiriakou also called on the US government to adhere to the international treaties it has signed outlawing torture and to introduce new legislation to explicitly ban torture.
This report is part of a joint investigation with The Rendition Project and is being supported by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. To support the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s fundraising appeal for this investigation, please click here.