A 15-year CIA veteran says he was systematically targeted for revenge by John Brennan and Robert Mueller after he exposed part of the CIA’s waterboarding program, then later revealed the identities of two agency officers, according to the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross.
In a 2007 ABC News interview, John Kiriakou, now 54, revealed details of a 2002 incident in which the CIA waterboarded Saudi national Abu Zubaydah after mistaking him for al Qaeda’s #3 official. Kiriakou later outed two CIA agents in subsequent interviews.
Kiriakou’s nightmare began years before his interview with the FBI, in December 2007, after he revealed in an on-camera interview with ABC News that the CIA had waterboarded Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi national who the CIA falsely believed was al Qaeda’s No. 3 official. Kiriakou, the chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan, had helped capture Abu Zubaydah in March 2002.
He resigned from the CIA in 2004 and joined the private sector. –Daily Caller
Kiriakou, who now hosts a radio show for Sputnik International and works as a whistleblower advocate, expressed remorse for sharing the names with reporters, and hav maintained that none of the outed CIA officers were threatened or harmed, and no confidential methods were xposed. An internal “crimes report” was submitted following Kiriakou’s comments, which the George W. Bush Justice Deparment decided not to pursue.
When President Obama took office, however, that changed.
“What we found in discovery was a memo from John Brennan, then the number 2 official on Obama’s National Security Council – to the Justice Department saying ‘charge him with espionage,” according to Kiriakou. The Justice Department responded, saying that Kiriakou had no committed espionage – to which Brennan replied “Charge him with espionage anyway and make him defend himself.”
The memos in question were reportedly provided to Kiriakou’s attorneys for his case and subsequently returned to the Justice Department.
Following his stint in the private sector, Kiriakou went to work for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired at the time by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). According to Kiriakou, the FBI launched a sting operation against him while he was in his new role.
The operation was undertaken by a 12-man “Kiriakou task force” set up by Mueller, who served as FBI director until 2013. The FBI declined comment on a list of questions about its investigation of Kiriakou.
In early 2011, Kiriakou met with the Japanese diplomat as he did with many other foreign dignitaries as part of his job. The pair communicated in Arabic, which Kiriakou speaks fluently, because the Japanese diplomat spoke poor English.
At the end of their fist meeting, Kiriakou says that the diplomat asked about his future plans. When Kiriakou said he was considering leaving the committee, the diplomat urged him to stay.
“No, I will pay you money,” the diplomat said, according to Kiriakou.
Kiriakou says he reprimanded the diplomat and reported the incident immediately to the Senate security office. –Daily Caller
Several days later, two FBI agents encouraged Kiriakou to maintain contact with the diplomat, and to have another lunch meeting. He did so – ultimately attending four meetings through April 2011, and summarized each of them in detailed reports to the FBI.
The FBI’s point-man on the sting operation was former counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who was fired after he was discovered to have exchanged a trove of anti-Trump text messages while investigating then-candidate Donald Trump.
Meeting Strzok “was the worst day of my life,” Kiriakou told the Caller.
“You remember you helped us with that case about a year ago,” said one of the FBI agents he had worked with on the Japanese diplomat case, in a phone call. “Well we have a similar case, and we need your help.”
When Kiriakou visited the Washington Field Office, he says that he was asked to help investigators figure out how his photo and those of nearly two dozen more current and former CIA officers had ended up in the prison cell of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner.
Kiriakou told the agents he had no idea how the photographs ended up at Gitmo.
But about an hour into his interview, which was in a room used for conversations about classified topics, the FBI agents revealed their true interest in Kiriakou.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that right now we’re executing a search warrant at your house and seizing your electronic devices,” one agent said, Kiriakou recalled to The New York Times in 2013.
Kiriakou first remembers Strzok after his interrogation.
“When I came out of this interrogation, I heard him say, ‘tell me he implicated himself,’” Kiriakou recalled of Strzok to TheDCNF.
“The other FBI guy said, ‘he didn’t, not really anyway.’”
“Am I under arrest?” Kiriakou asked.
“Not yet,” Strzok replied.
Kiriakou was arrested the following Monday. Strzok was the agent who handcuffed him. –Daily Caller
“What they did was they played on my patriotism. What they did is they tricked me into going down there to help them catch a spy,” said Kiriakou.
Kiriakou was indicted on April 5, 2012, on five charges related to the disclosure of classified information – including the outing of the two CIA officers. He notes that he appears to be the only CIA officer to face charges related to the illegal torture program – and spent 30 months in federal prison after being sentenced in January, 2013 after pleading guilty to leaking classified information to the journalists. He was released on Feb. 3, 2015 after serving 23 months, while the espionage charges initially filed against him were dropped.
Of Peter Strzok’s downfall, Kiriakou says “Washington’s a small town, and karma’s a bitch … And now it’s Peter Strzok’s turn to have his career and his reputation dragged through the mud.”