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Kiriakou writes: "Almost nobody in America has been as vocal in opposition to the Haspel nomination as I have. I've been a thorn in the CIA's butt for a long time. And certainly this is one of the things that the CIA does. When they don't like the message, they attack the messenger."

John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)
John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)

Again I Am Speaking Out Against Torture, Again I Am Under Attack

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

20 May 18


ost of you probably know that I was a former CIA officer, that I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program, and that I spent 23 months in a federal prison for my troubles. I’ve never second-guessed myself. I know I did the right thing, even if the cost was high. I lost my federal pension, my job, my security clearance, my life’s savings, even my wife. Still, I would do it over again.

In the interim, I’ve become something of a “spokesman” on the issues of torture and human rights. And I’m frequently sought out by media outlets in the U.S. and abroad. As you might imagine, President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel supercharged those media requests. The first one after the nomination was made public was from the Washington Post. They asked me to write an op-ed for the Sunday edition. It got more than 2.8 million hits. They also recorded a 30-minute video to promote the piece online. That was followed by three columns about Haspel at Reader Supported News, two appearances on Democracy Now, a panel at CNN, NPR, and dozens of other radio shows. I was very public in my opposition to Gina Haspel. I believe that her deep involvement in the CIA’s torture program is disqualifying, no matter how many of the CIA’s rank-and-file employees love her, as Senator Mark Warner said in rationalizing his flip-flop on her nomination.

In the midst of all of these interviews, I received a call from freelance journalist Caroline Lester, who said she was writing a story about me for The New Republic, and she asked for an interview. I demurred, saying that I was tired of being the “story.” The real news here was Gina Haspel, what she did, what she stands for, and why she shouldn’t be the CIA director. Lester was persistent. She said that she had her assignment, the article was going to be written, and I could either cooperate or not. I know a hit piece when I see one, but I agreed to meet with her, if only to take the edge off of what I thought would be a negative portrayal of me, even if it was in the fake-progressive, neo-liberal New Republic.

I was right, of course. The article’s headline blared, “The CIA Spy Who Became a Russian Propagandist.” It was exactly what I had expected.

As I mentioned above, one of the costs of whistleblowing is financial ruin. A major national security whistleblower once told me that he’s been broke since for 45 years. He never recovered financially after blowing the whistle on government illegality.

I was similarly broke until last August, when I received a call from the Sputnik News Network, a Russian government-owned outlet in Washington, with an offer of a two-hour daily radio show. I told the general manager that I would only take the job if I had complete editorial freedom to talk about and to criticize anything and anyone I wanted, including Vladimir Putin. He agreed without hesitation. When I asked if he would put it in writing, he did so immediately. I’ve been co-host of the show Loud & Clear since September 2017.

The journalist challenged me only once during our conversation. How could I work for a Russian propaganda outlet? I told her that she obviously had never listened to the show. Besides, I said, “Are you going to put food on my table? Are you going to put my kids through college? Nobody else is beating a path to my door to offer me work.” I thought we had left it at that.

The article was published a few weeks later and, just as I had expected, was a hit piece. I didn’t think it was a big deal, though. Nobody reads The New Republic anyway. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if the CIA had put The New Republic up to it.

Almost nobody in America has been as vocal in opposition to the Haspel nomination as I have. I’ve been a thorn in the CIA’s butt for a long time. And certainly this is one of the things that the CIA does. When they don’t like the message, they attack the messenger. When former CIA chief interrogator Glenn Carle published a memoir saying that the torture program was immoral, unethical, and illegal, the CIA put out the word that nobody should review the book. Almost nobody did and sales flopped. The same thing happened when NSA whistleblower Tom Drake published his book and when Justice Department whistleblower Jesselyn Radack published hers. The message is meant to discredit and silence the messenger.

That brings me back to The New Republic. They approached Caroline Lester with the story. They commissioned it. So who is Caroline Lester? I have no idea. If you click on her name on the New Republic website, this is her only article. Even a google search doesn’t tell you much. She has a website showing that she’s a freelancer and podcaster, and the site proudly features her articles in such outlets as the Yale University alumni magazine, a publication called “Roads & Kingdoms,” and a magazine called “Off Assignment.” Is she in the pay of the CIA? I don’t know. Maybe she is. Is The New Republic doing the CIA’s dirty work? I believe it is.

The purpose of this column is not to bash Caroline Lester or The New Republic. They’re not important enough to bash. The purpose is to tell the CIA that we know what they’re doing. It’s petty. It’s sad. But it’s also motivating. My whistleblower colleagues and I will keep up the fight.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act - a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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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+30 # chrisconno 2018-05-20 10:24
With a torturer heading the CIA now what are we supposed to expect? Thank you Kiriakou for your sacrifice. Our country seems to be head over heels in love with intrigue more than world stability and the republicans are the great scammers of all time. I don't need to know all the gory details to know we are on the wrong side, the for profit side, in too many conflicts that we have created for the sake of ever more profits. We are the bad seed claiming all others to be the rotten ones.
+6 # elkingo 2018-05-20 16:27
Right cc. Capitalism gobbles human lives for profit. Always has.
+23 # elizabethblock 2018-05-20 10:48
Does torture work? Well, it depends on what you're trying to do.
It destroys bodies and souls. It is a powerful recruiting tool for the enemies of the U.S. It extracts false information. It was someone being tortured who said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That's what the torturers wanted to hear, so that's what the torturee told them. (If Saddam Hussein had had WMDs, don't you think he would have used them?)
+18 # Dale 2018-05-20 10:48

The history of the CIA is long and very dirty. Since the initiation of the Cold War the chief instrument of the blackest side of Ameri 卍an policy. The engineering of the overthrow in 1953 of the nationalist government of Iran, Responding to the Iran´s nationalization of their oil. Then to impose a sanctions regime for these many years. Guatamala 1954. Overthrow of a reformist government. Followed by decades of dictatorship and Death Squads organized by local oligarchs and the CIA. Nicaragua 1980s, CIA organizes and finances with drug money the Contras to successfully turn back the Sandinista revolution.
The CIA laid the ground work for the Vietnam war. The CIA´s Phoenix Program in Vietnam resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead Vietnamese. In Vietnam the CIA program for “gooks” was “flying lessons” on “half a helicopter ride,” Chile 1973, the CIA giving a helping hand to fierce military dictatorship. The Chilean, Argentine, Uruguayan, and Brazilian military torturers got their CIA training since Kennedy in the 1960s. They embargoed, sabotaged, and terrorized Cuba, sponsored an invasion of mercenaries. These are but a few examples of thousands of illicit interventions by this criminal organization, That specializes in regime change and social and political disorganization . ABOLISH THE CIA.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-20 18:36
Dale -- yes, I agree 100%.

Also relevant to right now is operatino Glaudio, the CIA's covert op to rig elections in Europe from the late 1940s up through the 80s. The CIA got so good at election rigging that it began doing the same thing in the US. Now we have the CIA's meddling in the Trump campaign and its use of Stefan Halper, a long time election rigger, to develop plans to overthrow Trump. The war is coming home, but it has always been at home.
+26 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-05-20 10:59
THANK YOU. And, YES, keep up the fight. We need you.
+15 # DrD 2018-05-20 11:04
Thank you John
If you would like to support John for his selfless efforts to fight against torture see the link below.
+19 # futhark 2018-05-20 11:59
Watching the 1977 TV mini-series "Roots" this past week has once again brought to mind the casual acceptance by European-Americ ans of the day of the atrocity that was slavery. It now seems incredible that people could live comfortably with their consciences, while at the same time exercising what amounted to a reign of terror over others disadvantaged by their skin pigmentation and geographic origin.

Now we have officers of the federal government, no less, who have used torture as a means to reveal what passes for "truth".

Anyone comfortable with this situation must be totally lacking in empathy and ignorant of testimony that those under torture tend to tell the torturer what they think the torturer wants to hear, not necessarily the truth.

I take personal offense in having my government employing such grossly unethical, inefficient, and unreliable means to gather information.
+5 # Salus Populi 2018-05-20 20:23
Unfortunately, a poll taken in Dec. 2012, the most recent I'm aware of, indicated that around 54 per cent of respondents with opinions -- or six out of eleven -- were in favor of torture, considering it either "always justified" or "sometimes justified." [YouGov Omnibus Poll]

Brainwashing in the United States of Amnesia [Gore Vidal's felicitous expression] is alive and well. I don't think any other country on Earth combines such a supercilious and arrogant attitude among the educated with such abysmal ignorance of what is really going on. We swim like fish in a propaganda ocean, all unawares of the sewage that makes up our _gestalt_.
-26 # RLF 2018-05-20 12:02
Seems like a legitimate criticism that K. is working for a serious Russian outlet but not knowing the content of the pieces leaves me unable to comment further.
+16 # AldoJay69 2018-05-20 12:27
+6 # DudeistPriest 2018-05-20 12:36
America needs a regime change, and voting isn't going to bring it. What is needed is more than a political change. The military-indust rial-security-f inancial complex needs to be destroyed, and only a real revolution will bring it about. I believe that it is not so far away, and that a military defeat with high casualties will bring it about. With F*ing Moron's foreign policy it could happen any day now.
+20 # DudeistPriest 2018-05-20 12:37
Thank you, John. You are a true hero. I listen to "Loud And Clear" every day.
0 # glyde 2018-05-20 16:32
Quoting DudeistPriest:
Thank you, John. You are a true hero. I listen to "Loud And Clear" every day.

Which station (channel?) in Los Angeles, please?
+2 # JKiriakou 2018-05-21 12:50
Thanks for your support! We stream at, and we're a podcast at iTunes, iHeartRadio, and Spreaker. In the DC area, we're on from 4:00-6:00 pm at 105.5 FM and 1390 AM Monday through Friday.
+1 # DudeistPriest 2018-05-21 13:25
Radio Sputnik. It's also available as a podcast. It's my #1 news source.
+1 # DudeistPriest 2018-05-21 13:33
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-21 20:29
glyde -- you can stream it or listen to back shows on Sputnik's website --

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-20 18:33
So do I -- well, not every day but often. It is very good.

I really pity people who listen to NPR or watch MSNBC or CNN or Fox. They don't know what they are missing. It is also very ironic that it takes a Russian owned station to do this. Sputnik offers OK salaries, healthcare, retirement, and other benefits -- not things that small media outlets often do.
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-05-20 14:35
Since too early on in W Bush War in Iraq, I‘ve had to archive a Torture file. Say, this is the 21st Century: & I’m really sick of having to keep updating it. So should the World be.
+6 # Benign Observer 2018-05-20 14:58
Ed Schultz, a great labor reporter who was fired from MSNBC, went to work for RT. He said MSNBC's head, Phil Griffin, often told him what to report on, what he couldn't cover (he was yanked from Sanders' presidential announcement five minutes before an interview), and even how to slant stories.

He says he has never been told what he can or can't cover while working at RT.
+4 # windhorse 2018-05-20 15:46
I just finished reading Kiriakou's book, "The Reluctant Spy". An insightful and revealing account of the how the CIA manipulates public opinion and politicians to carry out their agenda. If you want to support him in what he does, consider getting it.
+5 # krazykwiltkatt 2018-05-20 15:49
The CIA has brought us many 'gifts' from regime changes to MK Ultra and 'Mockingbird' which specifically targeted news outlets. Anyone reading the declassified 'Northwoods' operation (vetoed by JFK) might draw an eerie preview of 9/11, an event whose many vectors have Still not been addressed by the official media, let alone the bulk of citizens. Good luck USA as the creeping Fascism slowly strangles your voice. PS Gina Haspel: Even Elizabeth I's spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham in the 16th century knew torture did not produce accurate information. Therefore the only conclusion one can draw from the use of torture is that it is used to verify 'false' information. It's all 'fake news' now.
+5 # elkingo 2018-05-20 16:22
Yeah John, we need you. And I need hardly tell you to watch your ass.
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-20 18:30
I actually listen to John's Radio Sputnik show quite often. Radio Sputnik is on FM 105.5 where I live. He's on with Brian Becker of the Answer Coalition. Their show is really good. Both are very well informed. Becker is good because he used to run travel programs to N. Korea for people who were interested. He's been there many times. He offers a good anecdote for the mass media's lies about N. Korea.

The American Deep State hates Sputnik and RT because they often have very good programs, something totally absent from US TV and Radio.

I have no doubt that the CIA planted this story in the New Republic. They do this in very many media outlets. This is part of how the American oligarchs rule. They can plant fake news anywhere they like, though they seem to prefer the NYT or Wapo, but any publication from New York works just fine.
0 # Angels 2018-05-23 04:44
I firmly believe there are many organizations that are infiltrated with various law enforcement undercovers. I also believe these law enforcement people have a long and overpowering reach into every aspect of our lives. People do not want to believe this because it is totally frightening...

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