John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counter-terrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post,[1] and author.[2]

He is notable as the first official within the U.S. government to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, which he described as torture.[3][4]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Kiriakou was born August 9, 1964 in Sharon, Pennsylvania and raised in New Castle, Pennsylvania, the son of elementary school educators. He is married and has five children.

Education[edit | edit source]

Kiriakou graduated from New Castle High School in 1982 and attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a Master's degree in Legislative Affairs. Kiriakou was recruited into the CIA by a graduate school professor who had been a senior CIA official.[5]

CIA career[edit | edit source]

Kiriakou spent the first eight years of his career as a Middle East analyst specializing on Iraq.[2] He maintained a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance.[2] He learned Arabic and was assigned to the American Embassy in Manama, Bahrain as an economic officer from 1994-1996.[2] He returned to Washington, D.C. and went back to work on Iraq until transferring to the CIA's Directorate of Operations in 1998.[2] He became a counter-terrorism operations officer and served overseas in Athens, Greece, working on Eurocommunist terrorism issues. Kiriakou returned again to CIA Headquarters in 2000.[2]

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Kiriakou was named Chief of Counterterrorist Operations in Pakistan. In that position, he claims to have led a series of raids on al-Qaeda safehouses that resulted in the capture of dozens of al-Qaeda fighters. On the night of March 28, 2002, Kiriakou claims to have led a raid in which Abu Zubaydah, then thought to be al-Qaeda’s third-ranking official, was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan.[2] Following a 2002-2004 domestic assignment, Kiriakou resigned from the CIA in 2004.

Over the course of Kiriakou's career, he was awarded 10 Exceptional Performance Awards, a Sustained Superior performance Award, the Counterterrorism Service Medal, and the State Department's Meritorious Honor Award.[2]

Life after the CIA[edit | edit source]

Kiriakou next worked as a senior manager in Big Four accounting firm Deloitte & Touche's competitive intelligence practice.[6] Kiriakou was a terrorism consultant for ABC News from September 2008 until March 2009. Following Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) ascension to the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009, Kiriakou became the Committee's senior investigator, focusing on the Middle East, international terrorism, piracy, and counter-narcotics issues.[7] He left the Committee in 2011 to become managing partner of Rhodes Global Consulting, and an Arlington, Virginia-based political risk analysis firm.[8] He again resumed counter-terrorism consulting for ABC News from April 2011 to April 2012.[9]He speaks often at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Whistleblowing on torture[edit | edit source]

In December 2007 Kiriakou gave an interview to ABC News[10] where he was described as participating in the capture and questioning of Abu Zubaydah, who is accused of having been an aide to Osama Bin Laden. According to Kiriakou, based on what he had been told by the CIA, it had taken only a single brief instance of waterboarding to extract answers to an interrogator's questions from Abu Zubaydah.

...He was able to withstand the waterboarding for quite some time. And by that I mean probably 30, 35 seconds... and a short time afterwards, in the next day or so, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate.[11]

Eventually it became known that Abu Zubaydah had in fact been waterboarded at least 83 times,[12] and that little or no useful extra information may have been gained by "harsh methods".[13][14] However, even when Kiriakou was under the mistaken belief from the CIA that Zubayda was waterboarded only once, he acknowledged that even the relatively mild single instance of waterboarding he described constituted a form of torture and expressed reservations about whether the value of the information was worth the damage done to the United States' reputation.

Kiriakou's accounts of Abu Zubaydah's waterboarding, and the relatively mild nature of it, were widely repeated, and paraphrased,[15] and he became a regular guest expert on news and public affairs shows, on the topics of interrogation, and counter-terrorism.

On the second to last page of his 2010 memoir entitled The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror[2] Kiriakou acknowledged that he was not present during Abu Zubaydah's interrogations, and had no first-hand knowledge of Abu Zubaydah's waterboardings:

I wasn't there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I'd heard and read inside the agency at the time.[16][17]

Charged[edit | edit source]

On Monday, January 23, 2012, Kiriakou was charged with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee, Deuce Martinez, in classified activities.[18][19][20] In addition to leaking the names and roles of CIA officers, Kiriakou was alleged to have lied to the CIA to get his book published.[21]

On 5 April, he was indicted. The indictment charges Kiriakou with one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, three counts of violating the Espionage Act, and one count of making false statements for allegedly lying to the Publications Review Board of the CIA.

On 13 April Kiriakou pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released on bail.[22]

Starting 12 September 2012, the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will conduct closed Classified Information Procedures Act hearings in Kirikaou's case.[23]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "John Kiriakou". Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 John Kiriakou, Michael Ruby (2010). The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror. Random House. ISBN 978-0-553-80737-0. Retrieved 2010-03-09.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ReluctantSpy2010" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Warrick, Joby; Dan Eggen (11 December 2007). "Waterboarding Recounted". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  4. Davis, Mark (12 December 2007). "His second guess is wrong". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  5. Kiriakou, John; Michael Ruby (2010). The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror. New York: Bantam Books. 
  6. "John Kiriakou LinkedIn Profile". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  7. Savage, Charlie (January 24, 2012). "Ex-CIA Officer's Path from Terrorist Hunter to Defendant". The New York Times. 
  8. "Rhodes Global Consulting". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  9. "Rhodes Global Consulting". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  10. "How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate", NY Times
  11. "Part One of the Transcript with John Kiriakou",
  12. "CIA waterboarded key Al-Qaeda suspects 266 times: memo", Agence France-Presse, 04/20/2009
  13. "Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots", The Washington Post
  14. "My Tortured Decision", Ali Soufan, April 22, 2009, The Washington Post
  15. "...The waterboarding lasted about 35 seconds before Abu Zubaida broke down, according to Kiriakou, who said he was given a detailed description of the incident by fellow team members. The next day, Abu Zubaida told his captors he would tell them whatever they wanted... He said that Allah had come to him in his cell and told him to cooperate, because it would make things easier for his brothers...", December 11, 2007, The Washington Post
  16. "Kiriakou Recants—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)". 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  17. "CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  18. Matthew Barakat (2012-01-24). "Ex-CIA man accused of leaking classified info". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  19. Benson, Pam (January 23, 2012). "Former CIA officer accused of leaking classified info". CNN. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  20. Savage, Charlie (January 24, 2012). "Ex-C.I.A. Officer Charged in Information Leak". New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  21. "Ex-spy Kiriakou, accused in CIA leaks, played key role in public debate over waterboarding". Associated Press. January 24, 2012. Retrieved February 01, 2012. 
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