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Kiriakou writes: "I had lunch with an FBI agent last week. If you don't know me, that's a highly unusual event. I hate the FBI."

John Kiriakou in the documentary Silenced. (photo: AFI Docs)
John Kiriakou in the documentary Silenced. (photo: AFI Docs)

My Lunch With an FBI Whistleblower, Not Yet Out

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

11 April 16


had lunch with an FBI agent last week. If you don’t know me, that’s a highly unusual event. I hate the FBI. I hate what they’ve done to civil liberties in the United States. I hate that they spy on peace activists, civil libertarians, and people of color, all under the guise of “national security.” I hate the FBI’s dirty history of COINTELPRO, of sending poison pen letters to Martin Luther King Jr. to try to get him to commit suicide. I hate that they tried to set me up on an espionage charge because they knew that the case against me for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program was weak. But I was intrigued.

The FBI agent in question told me that he had uncovered evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality at the Bureau. He said that he had reported this untoward behavior up his chain of command and was told to mind his own business. He went to the FBI Inspector General and the FBI General Counsel, and was told both times that he should walk away, that he should mind his own business. He wanted to know what I thought he should do, based on my own experience.

I told him that he could do one of several things. He could continue up the chain of command and go to the Senate or House Judiciary Committees. If he did that, there would certainly be an internal investigation, he would be ostracized at the FBI, and he would likely face spurious charges that could include espionage. That’s what the CIA and the FBI did to me, to NSA’s Tom Drake, to the CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling, to the State Department’s Stephen Kim, and others.

I told him that he could go to the press, in which case there would also be an investigation, his security clearance would be suspended, and he would likely be fired, at least, for insubordination. He also could be charged with espionage or any number of national security charges related to leaking.

I told him that he could talk to an attorney who specializes in national security whistleblowing cases, like Jesselyn Radack of ExposeFacts. Radack is a fearless advocate for national security professionals who take their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution seriously. She is also a whistleblower. She lost her job as a Justice Department ethics officer after insisting that John Walker Lindh, known in the press as the “American Taliban,” be allowed access to an attorney, a basic constitutional right that the FBI denied him.

And finally, I told him that he could do nothing. Just keep quiet. He would keep his job, his pay grade, and his clearances. But he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

The FBI agent, deep down, knew all these things. He recalled the recent case of another FBI whistleblower, Darin Jones, who was fired after he blew the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse at the Bureau. Jones said that FBI bigwigs had blown $234,000 of the taxpayers’ money on an awards ceremony for themselves, they had improperly spent taxpayer money without going through proper channels, and that a former FBI assistant director had had a conflict of interest related to a computer help-desk contract.

What did Jones do? He went through the chain of command. He complained to his superiors about the waste, fraud, and abuse he saw. In response, he was fired on the last day of his probationary period. That was three and a half years ago. His appeal still hasn’t been heard. And as with other whistleblowers, especially those in the national security arena, it has been virtually impossible for Jones to find work, and former friends and colleagues avoid him. He has described himself as “radioactive,” a non-person.

Congress, over the years, has toyed with the idea of enhanced protections for FBI whistleblowers. The chairman and ranking Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Pat Leahy (D-Vermont), have introduced the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which would expand the number of people at the FBI eligible for whistleblower protection and would allow them to appeal dismissal in the court system. The problem is that the bill has languished in the Senate and has not come up for a vote. It likely won’t this year. Meanwhile, the House has ignored it.

The bottom line is this: Jones, the FBI agent with whom I met, and others who report on FBI malfeasance internally are screwed. There really are no protections. It’s the same in national security. A potential whistleblower can go through the chain of command and likely be charged with crimes, he can go to the press and likely be charged with crimes, or he can keep his mouth shut. There are no alternatives. And until Congress recognizes the patent unfairness of the current system, other good and patriotic men and women will be ruined for doing the right thing.

John Kiriakou is an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+61 # BettyFaas 2016-04-11 22:01
The apple is rotting to the core! It's sickening!
+5 # chinaski 2016-04-12 10:42
True, bad apples are most at home in bad bushels.
-3 # HowardMH 2016-04-12 12:19
You got it and it starts right at the very top with Obama the Wimp.
0 # kalpal 2016-07-16 08:00
Racist bigotry belongs somewhere else like the local garbage dump but not here. Take it there and stay a few decades to make sure it stays there.
0 # Vardoz 2016-05-19 11:08
And more dangerous than we realize.
+53 # phrixus 2016-04-11 22:13
Besides being an interesting topic, I appreciate the writing style. Cuts to the chase without bloat and unnecessary fluff.
+74 # munza1 2016-04-11 22:26
Go along to get along. The noose tightens on our liberties. A very good piece written with the passion of a man who had his life torn to tatters for speaking the truth. But now out of prison he has not shut up, he has not 'cooled it', he is speaking out. There is hope.
+4 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-04-12 21:34
As I commented on the Plame article, real whistleblowers are ruined professionally and otherwise. Real whistleblowers don't get book deals.
+64 # cordleycoit 2016-04-11 22:43
It s easy to tell the good guys from the bad in the FBI. The good guys are fired.
+1 # Shades of gray matter 2016-04-11 22:46
Thanks to JK, RSN. I don't HATE the ENTIRE FBI, although the current Director seems to be a pig. Tradition there. We're about one whole year late in lining up and supporting/fina ncing candidates for Congress who might make a difference. The One Man Messiah plan won't work. ITTY BITTY incremental change won't turn the ship in time. After a decisive NY, HRC & BS should declare a truce & focus on Congressional races?
+20 # tedrey 2016-04-12 06:01
Let's cut to the chase, Shades. I for one, in my small way, am already supporting/fina ncing House and Senate candidates who may make a difference. You yourself are the one who's a year late and don't even seem to know about them.

You want us to accept the Clinton picks who haven't and won't change a damn thing.
+3 # scoff 2016-04-12 18:35
Good list of candidates to support.

Another, although incomplete, is here:
+11 # capt400 2016-04-11 23:10
Or he could quit his job and then blow the whistle? Why would he want to work there anyway?
+13 # JSRaleigh 2016-04-12 10:26
Quoting capt400:
Or he could quit his job and then blow the whistle? Why would he want to work there anyway?

An would still likely be charged with espionage.
+28 # RMDC 2016-04-12 06:03
All of the secret police agencies of the US regime are corrupt to the core. That's pretty much how it works. People have power and access to funds that are not accounted for in public.

Thanks for this article. We need more whistle blowers. I understand that the personal cost to whistle blowers is huge. Their lives are destroyed by the regime. But it is the only way a democracy can work its way out of the fascism of the national security state.
0 # Vardoz 2016-05-19 11:16
As Jimmy Carter recently said " we no longer have a Democracy." And we have to ask what are the implications for the lives of the 99% in terms of freedoms, rights, economics and our health, safety and welfare? The FBI and CIA are also an arm of the corporate dictatorship that has taken over everything. In my view that entire system is anarchistic in favor of open season against every aspect of our lives. As Warren has said
many times. " the game is rigged against us and there is no one out there watching our backs. We have to fight this battle ourselves or be drowned in a sea of troubles.
-11 # Shades of gray matter 2016-04-12 07:44
tedrey: I have been sending checks to about a dozen Congressional candidates for about a year, all across the US. And I congratulate you upon doing so likewise. Now it's time for the Bridge Burners to put their $$ where their Movement mouths are? And BS also.
+11 # economagic 2016-04-12 08:07
Further insight into what the U.S. government has become, despite warnings from many brave people throughout our history, may be found in another article in last night's dump from RSN: "Why We're Never Told Why We're Attacked," by Joe Lauria of Consortium News.
+10 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-04-12 08:18
Corrupt police are the downfall of a nation.
+4 # godwjl 2016-04-13 07:36
This is difficult but important work. We must admire the dissidents and show them our support. And we must support whistleblower legislation and Congressional oversight--brin g security agencies back to where they need to be. Otherwise, toss the constitution and accept slow descent into a police state.
0 # 2016-04-13 11:59
0 # kalpal 2016-07-16 08:06
No bureaucracy with any power will ever brook internal criticism. The peasants must shut up and do as they are told. If they detect corruption they must never reveal it to the general public or to anyone with sufficient power and/or influence to penalize the corrupt ones. Corruption is endemic in all bureaucracies in all nations. Its has hard to get rid of it as finding a truthful politician or conman.

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