Oct 27, 2012
In the post-Wikileaks informational clampdown, the media took a blow as former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, John Kiriakou, pleaded guilty to unlawfully sharing secret intelligence material with members of the press.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Kiriakou shared sensitive information with two members of the media regarding the treatment of a suspected terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, who is held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On Thursday, Agent Kiriakou pleaded guilty to divulging information that revealed the role of another CIA covert operative as well as leaking classified activities not privy to the public.
The guilty plea for intentionally disclosing information that identified a fellow covert agent carries a 30-month prison sentence.
“The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”
“Disclosing classified information, including the names of CIA officers, to unauthorized individuals is a clear violation of the law,” said Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin. “Today’s plea would not be possible without the hard work of the prosecutors and FBI Special Agents and analysts who brought this case to justice, and who will continue to pursue those who ignore their obligations to protect national security secrets.”
According to the public court documents, the case was “triggered by a classified filing in January 2009 by defense counsel for high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” The government claims the classified information sought by the defense attorney had not been released through legal channels. The request included photos of government and contract employees.
“The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions one of the journalists to whom Kiriakou illegally disclosed classified information, in turn, disclosed that information to a defense team investigator. This information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel. The government has made no allegations of criminal activity by any members of the defense team for the detainees,” documents revealed.
As a 14-year veteran of the CIA, Kiriakou signed numerous secrecy and non-disclosure agreements preventing him from disclosing any classified information to unauthorized individuals, including members of the media.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, “Kiriakou admitted that he made illegal disclosures about two CIA employees and their involvement in classified operations to two journalists (referenced as “Journalist A” and “Journalist B” in court records) on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009.”
He also admitted to writing a string of emails with Journalist A, where he disclosed a CIA officer name (referred to as “Officer A” in court documents) whose association with the CIA had been classified for more than 20 years. Moreover, the government said Kiriakou assisted the reporter by linking the once-secret CIA operative, to an ongoing classified operation.
In addition, Kiriakou confessed that “he disclosed to Journalists A and B the name and contact information of a CIA analyst, identified in court records as ‘Officer B,’ along with his association with an operation to capture terrorism subject Abu Zubaydah in 2002. Kiriakou knew that the association of Officer B with the Abu Zubaydah operation was classified. Based in part on this information, Journalist B subsequently published a June 2008 front-page story in The New York Times disclosing Officer B’s alleged role in the Abu Zubaydah operation.“
The government further alleges that Journalist A passed along that information to the high-value terrorist’s defense attorney at Guantanamo Bay.
During the 11-year “war on terror” the government has stepped up its efforts to protect “domestic secrets” in the name of “national security.” However, many investigative reporters say they rely on “inside sources” to hold the government accountable as members of the Constitutionally established fourth estate. Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the government for shielding information from the public in trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) and four others. The accused, who were held at CIA black sites are allegedly the masterminds and facilitators of 9/11. The ACLU told the Gitmo military tribunal judge that the commission was hindering the media in an attempt to control “the thoughts, minds and memories” of the defendants.
Meanwhile, there have been a number of federal agency scandals pertaining to the “black sites” that have lead to a crack down on agents considering whistle-blowing activities.
Curiously, during the Bush administration, Lewis “Scooter” Libby (Vice-President Dick Cheney’s aide) was convicted of lying and obstructing justice when he disclosed the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Just like Kiriakou, Scooter Libby received 30 months in jail, but President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month sentence, sparing the former aide from serving prison time.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Washington DC Field Office lead investigation, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations assisted in collecting evidence for the guilty plea deal.
For more stories and continuing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba terrorist military tribunal coverage check back here.
Previous KSM stories: http://www.examiner.com/article/ksm-anti-american-diatribe-shocks-gitmo-courtroom
For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak
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