CIA torture whistleblower honored after criminal sentencingSaturday, February 2, 2013 at 10:32 am by Emily Walsh
CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison for revealing to reporters the name of a CIA agent complicit in torture. On January 23rd, he was honored in Washington, DC at an portrait unveiling hosted by Americans Who Tell the Truth. Kiriakou recently appeared on HuffPost Live, where he noted that while torturers continue to hold public office, “I’m the only one going to prison.”
Kiriakou’s portrait is the latest in a series that prominent artist Robert Shetterly has been creating to showcase notable truth-tellers from American history. In Shetterly’s words, the portrait series is “dedicated to the belief that a profound sense of citizenship is the only safeguard of democracy and the best defense of our social, economic, and environmental rights.”
Shetterly, Kiriakou and GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack (the subject of a series portrait herself) spoke at the January 23 event, which was timed to occur two days before Kiriakou was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for disclosing the identity of a CIA analyst to .
Though President Obama has pledged to protect federal workers from retaliation for exposing waste, fraud and abuse of authority, Attorney General Eric Holder has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the Espionage Act than “all his predecessors combined.”
As Jesselyn Radack has emphasized, “for someone who pledged to protect and defend whistle-blowers, [President Obama] certainly has not even remained neutral, he’s affirmatively set us back really, really far.” In an environment in which those who speak out against misuse of power are prosecuted instead of protected, and those who have misused power are not apprehended, will federal workers have the courage to risk their careers to reveal fraud and waste by government agencies?
In a statement for the event, Shetterly wrote that his portrait of Kiriakou is an attempt to “recognize a real hero”:
It is a terrible irony that the people who ordered the use of torture are free and continue to be rewarded for their ‘service’ to this country, while the man who tried to stop torture is going to prison.
Kiriakou and Radack also appeared on Democracy Now, where Kiriakou made clear that:
This…was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture….I’m going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture. My oath was to the Constitution….[a]nd to me, torture is unconstitutional.”