The 1989 Whistleblowers Protection Act says:
Whistleblowing means disclosing information that you reasonably believe is evidence of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
While this law does not encompass all types of whistleblowing, it works reasonably well to protect any whistleblower who isn’t a federal employee. For federal employees, in theory, there are direct channels in which they can go to reveal misconduct in their agency.
However, if the information is deemed “classified” because of “national security, then the whistleblower may go through an official channel. However, if the Whistleblower discloses this information to the American people, he is prosecuted as though he were a traitor under the espionage act. Worse, the Espionage act states that a whistleblower’s intent is irrelevant and thus bars a defendant from raising a “public interest” defense.
There are numerous examples of information that is more often classified to prevent shame for those in power, or worse just sheer laziness, than to actually protect national security, sovereignty and/or safety of the American citizenry.
John Kiriakou told an ABC reporter about the existence of the CIA torture program. Immediately afterwards, the DOJ engaged in a combination of a witchhunt and an entrapment program in order to prosecute John Kiriakou, as retaliation.
On his website, he says:
Immediately after John’s interview, the Justice Department initiated a years-long investigation, determined to find something–anything–to charge him with. This was his payback for blowing the whistle on the torture program.
John eventually was charged with three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and one count of making a false statement as a result of the 2007 ABC News interview. Finally, in order to avoid the risk of spending 45 years in prison, John accepted a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. All other charges were dropped. Even though he had no criminal intent, and there was no harm to the national security, accepting the plea resulted in a sentence of 30 months in prison.
Today, John joins us to talk about his ordeal, and also expose the entire problem with the national security apparatus.
John Kiriakou worked at the CIA until 2004. Today, he is an author and an activist. His first book, The Reluctant Spy, is about his time at the CIA. He is also working on an upcoming book. He tries to raise awareness on the bipartisan crackdown of whistleblowers and how it threatens our fragile democracy. He can be reached via his website.