Monday, January 28, 2013

Blowing the whistle

Former CIA agent John Kiriakou will spend the next 30 months in a federal prison for revealing the name of a former officer who tortured detainees.

He was found out when the attorney for a suspected terrorist filed a legal brief that mentioned facts that had not been revealed by the government. One thing led to another and someone made the connection between the suspect's attorney, a reporter and Mr. Kiriakou.

This entire episode of suppression theater brings up a very serious question, however. Why didn't the government reveal that it had tortured the detainee on multiple occasions? It is not only absurd, but a blatant abuse of power for the government to torture a suspect in order to obtain evidence and not disclose that either to the court or to the defense.

Mr. Kiriakou is a whistleblower. He exposed gross human rights abuses and violations of international law. He provided the name of an officer who committed those offenses. And yet he's the one prosecuted under a statute that hadn't been used to prosecute anyone in 27 years. He's the one who will be going to prison.

The judge, Leonie Brinkema, who presides over the Eastern District of Virginia, was only too happy to serve her masters up the road in Washington. She rejected the argument that Mr. Kiriakou was a whistleblower and entitled to the protections afforded to whistleblowers under the law.

That ruling shouldn't have come as a surprise. One thing the Obama Administration has not compromised on over the past four years is its aggressive prosecution of people who expose the lies and criminal conduct rampant in the War on Everything Terrorism.

Men like John Kiriakou and Bradley Manning shouldn't be prosecuted. They should be lauded for exposing the lies and hypocrisies of our government. They should be praised for bringing to light the gross violations of international law and human rights that have taken places at US prisons around the world.

Once upon a time it was the role of the media to act as a check on the government. Reporters snooped and dug and found out the truth and reported it. But somewhere along the line reporters and news organizations became more interested in having a seat at the table with the glamorous people and they began to shirk their duties and responsibilities.

And while Mr. Kiriakou sits in prison and Mr. Manning awaits trial, everyone turns a blind eye to the fact that the CIA assisted the producers of Zero Dark Thirty in bringing that shiny piece of propaganda to the big screen. The CIA had no problem leaking confidential information to the producers since the movie was going to glorify the role of the CIA in an illegal mission in a country with whom we are at peace.

Mr. Kiriakou and Mr. Manning are prosecuted because their actions embarrassed the government. But it's okay for the CIA to leak information that makes the government look good.

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