CIA Whistleblower Pleads Guilty

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou has pleaded guilty to charges that he turned over material to a reporter about that agency’s program of torture under the Bush administration. This was done as part of a plea deal that will reduce his sentence down to two and a half years:

As part of the deal, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 30 months in prison, rather than the decades he was potentially facing. They dropped several other charges, among them that he helped Scott Shane of The New York Times identify another colleague involved in interrogations, and that he lied to a C.I.A. publication board reviewing his memoir, “Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the C.I.A.’s War on Terror,” published in 2010.

Judge Brinkema will hold a hearing to sentence Mr. Kiriakou on Jan. 25. She noted that the proposed 30-month term was the same time that I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, received in connection with the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of another C.I.A. official, Valerie Plame Wilson. After Mr. Libby was convicted of making false statements, President George W. Bush commuted his prison term.

So the Obama DOJ got their man. Of course, no one who actually ordered or engaged in torture has gotten so much as a slap on the wrist because, as Obama likes to say, it’s important to “look forward, not back.” At least for the powerful and well-connected, that is. As Timothy Lee puts it:

The message here is clear: if you break the law with the approval of senior administration officials, you will be shielded from liability for your crimes by subsequent administrations. The senior officials who signed off on those activities will also not face any penalties. However, if you see your colleagues breaking the law and call attention to it, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This is a terrible day for the rule of law.

As every day has been for the last 10 years, no matter who is in the White House.

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  • stace

    Welcome to Bizarro World, sign off on torture, no worries, you will be protected. Blow the whistle on such activities, prepare to face the consequences.

  • No wonder journalism is dead; It’s illegal.

  • fastlane

    This is a terrible day for the rule of law.

    In other words, business as usual.

    I doubt any country really lives up even close to this ideal, but I’d like to think there’s at least someplace that tries.

  • It is not a crime to do illegal activities, only to report that they have been done.

  • khms

    At least the current big rule-of-law debate here in Germany has both sides accuse the other of disrespecting the law:

    Situation: rich Germans bring their money to Switzerland to cheat on taxes.

    Side A: some bank employees sell DVDs with data about this to German tax authorities, resulting in a large number of court case and another large number of people confessing their tax crimes to get milder sentences.

    Side B: our federal minister of finance produces a contract with Switzerland which promises to make those banks send us some amount of money, anonymously, resulting in amnesty for the rich people in question.

    B to A: the state can’t use illegal methods! besides, makes Switzerland angry![1]

    A to B: this is an insult to honest tax payers! amount of money you promise us is completely speculative! (And incidentally, money laundering …)

    [1] Actually, the German courts said it’s just fine. The Swiss want to prosecute several German tax authority employees, though. Not that those were the people that made the decision (those were politicians), but whatever …

  • Nick Gotts (formerly KG)

    In remarkably similar news, a Greek editor is being prosecuted for publishing a list of 2,000 rich Greeks with Swiss bank accounts, many suspected of using them to illegally evade taxes. The list was provided to the Greek government 2 years ago (by Christine Lagarde, then French finance minister, now IMF head), but nothing has been done to follow it up.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Land of the free, home of the brave.

    (Was that ever true?)

  • John Phillips, FCD

    #7, No. But you knew that, right?

  • tripencrypt

    “This is a terrible day for the rule of law.”

    “As every day has been for the last 10 years, no matter who is in the White House.”

    Incredibly sad but true. 🙁