We have written many times over the years about liberal newspapers, in particular the New York Times, which have published classified information in violation of the Espionage Act. They did thus to undermine the foreign policies of the United States, and in particular to attack the Bush administration. Today the curtain was raised on one of those episodes, as a former CIA official who was more recently a Democratic staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was indicted. The Washington Post has the story (without mentioning, however, that the criminal defendant, John Kiriakou, was a Democratic staffer):
The Justice Department on Monday charged a former CIA officer with repeatedly leaking classified information, including the identities of agency operatives involved in the capture and interrogation of alleged terrorists.
The case against John Kiriakou, who also served as a senior Senate aide, extends the Obama administration’s crackdown on disclosures of national security secrets. Kiriakou, 47, is the sixth target of a leaks-related prosecution since President Obama took office, exceeding the total number of comparable prosecutions under all previous administrations combined, legal experts said.
The New York Times article referred to in the Kiriakou criminal complaint is here. The article, by Scott Shane, is essentially a brief against the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. News accounts of Kiriakou’s betrayals of the agency he once served are rather bland; in fact, however, the complaint’s allegations are sickening.
Based on information supplied by Kiriakou, the Times article named the CIA agent who interrogated Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah as Deuce Martinez. It also acknowledged requests from Martinez and the CIA that the paper not print his name:
Mr. Martinez declined to be interviewed; his role was described by colleagues. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A., and a lawyer representing Mr. Martinez asked that he not be named in this article, saying that the former interrogator believed that the use of his name would invade his privacy and might jeopardize his safety.
Indifferent to the safety of Mr. Martinez and his family, the Times ignored those requests. We now know that the “colleague” who revealed Martinez’s identity was John Kiriakou. Here is some more specific information from the criminal complaint:
As discussed further below, there is probable cause that, at various times prior to June 22, 2008, KIRIAKOU provided Journalist B [Scott Shane, apparently] with personal information regarding Officer B [Martinez] knowing that Journalist B was seeking to identify and locate Officer B in light of Officer B’s role in the Abu Zubaydah operation. In doing so, KIRIAKOU confirmed that Officer B was involved in the Zubaydah operation and therefore disclosed classified information.
Kiriakou supplied Shane with Martinez’s contact information, including his home address and telephone number. Using that information, Shane proceeded to harass Martinez and his family:
[P]rior to the publication of the Article, Journalist B attempted to contact Officer B in person, by phone, and by email, among other means:
a. Journalist B had visited Officer B’s home on a Sunday, leaving notes under his door and in his mailbox and parking outside his house for almost four hours.
b. On or about May 8, 2008, an individual identifying himself as Journalist B called Officer B’s home and spoke with his wife.
c. On or about April 11, 2008, Journalist B emailed Officer B at his personal email address. Officer B had provided his personal email address to KIRIAKOU, but not to Journalist B or any other journalist.
d. At various times prior to the publication of the Article, Journalist B also contacted Officer B’s mother, sister and a high school friend.
One disgusting feature of the complaint is that, when Kiriakou was asked about his involvement in the Times story, he lied cravenly, while acknowledging that whoever betrayed Martinez had endangered his safety:
After the publication of the Article, Kiriakou sent several emails denying that he was the source for information in the Article regarding Officer B, while, at the same time, lying about the number and nature of his contacts with Journalist B. For example, in an email dated June 30, 2008, Kiriakou stated to Officer B: “I had a conversation over the weekend with the ombudsman at the New York Times regarding the article about you in last week’s paper…. I told the ombudsman that I thought the use of your name in the article was despicable and unnecessary, and that I thought it could put you in personal danger. I also wanted to let you know … that I did not cooperate with the article. My only contact with the author was three days before the article was published. He called me and asked if we could talk. I declined. He then asked if I thought he should mention you by name. I said absolutely not.”
Kiriakou likewise lied to the FBI agents who questioned him about the article.
According to the criminal complaint, Kiriakou gave Martinez’s name to two other journalists in addition to the Times reporter. One of those journalists gave Martinez’s name and home phone number to an investigator who was working on behalf of one or more of the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. That investigator went to Martinez’s home and surreptitiously photographed him; four pictures of Martinez were later found in the possession of a Gitmo terrorist.
The criminal complaint does not address Kiriakou’s motivation, but it appears to have been the same as that of the New York Times. Kiriakou had become an opponent of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies and wanted to damage the administration by betraying his former colleagues in the CIA. So far, nothing is publicly known about how Kiriakou went to work for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or what his role was there. Did John Kerry, the committee’s chairman, know that Kiriakou was a criminal who had violated the terms of his employment with the CIA and endangered the lives of fellow agents? We don’t know, but the question certainly should be asked.
Another question that should be asked is why Shane Scott, his editor, and the publisher of the Times, Pinch Sulzburger, are not under indictment for violation of the Espionage Act.
Finally, we haven’t approved of much that the Obama administration has done, but its unprecedented effort to crack down via criminal prosecution on illegal leaks that compromise national security is commendable. The Bush administration was far too forgiving in this regard.
Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.