Former CIA Officer Accused of Leaking Classified Information

Liz De La Torre

The Obama administration now has its hands full with prosecuting its sixth criminal leak case. Just last week, John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer for fourteen years, was accused of revealing the name of a CIA analyst as well as other classified information to journalists regarding the 2002 capture and interrogation of suspected Al Qaeda member, Abu Zubaydah. Abu Zubaydah is one of the “high value” detainees in Guantanamo Bay who has been subjected to controversial torture and interrogation methods used by the CIA such as waterboarding.

Consistent with legal documents, Kiriakou divulged classified information to at least three journalists throughout the summer of 2008 after several e-mail exchanges. One reporter, otherwise known as Journalist B, wrote an article in the New York Times with details on the CIA analyst and his involvement in the Zubayda operation. Another reporter, only identified as Journalist A by Department of Justice documents, released the name of the officer and the officer’s contact information to an investigator who was working for the defense team on the Guantanamo detainee’s case. The investigator was then able to identify and photograph the officer and used these photographs to ask Abu Zubaydah if he recognized who interrogated him.

Though he denies leaking any information, Kiriakou is also coming under fire for allegedly lying about leaking confidential information in order to release his book about life in the CIA: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.” In fact, he told his co-author about a technique used during the Zubaydah operation known as the “magic box.” According to the affidavit filed, Kiriakou informed the CIA’s Publication and Review Board that the “magic box” technique was fabricated and therefore could be an additional component to his book.

However, the affidavit includes an e-mail Kiriakou wrote to his co-author about the meeting in which he lied to the CIA in order to get their approval for publication: “I laid it on thick. And I said some things were fictionalized when in fact they weren’t. There’s no way they’re going to go through years of cable traffic to see if it’s fictionalized, so we might get some things through.” At present, Kiriakou is charged with one count of “allegedly illegally disclosing the identity of a covert officer,” and one count of “allegedly illegally disclosing national defense information” although he is expected to plead not guilty. Still, if convicted, he faces a thirty-year sentence and a one million dollar fine.