tv Democracy Now LINKTV February 9, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST
02/09/15 02/09/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> hi, i am john kiriakou, home after cheerleaders in federal prison. -- home after two years in federal prison. i am full of hope. >> today in a broadcast exclusive interview, we spend the hour with the retired cia agent who blew the whistle on torture.
he has just been released from prison. he will join us from his home, where he remains on house arrest while finishing his two-and-a-half-year sentence. in 2007, kiriakou became the first cia official to publicly confirm and detail the bush administration's use of waterboarding. >> i've come to believe firmly that torture is wrong under any circumstances. it is not something that a civilized society should sanction. it is something that we as americans should oppose. >> john kiriakou is the only official to be jailed for any reason relating to the torture program. >> if we are going to make prosecution or initiate prosecution, those prosecutions can't just be against the people who blew the whistle on the torture or who opposed the torture. we haven't even investigated the torturers. >> john kiriakou for the hour.
all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the islamic state is claiming kidnapped aid worker kayla mueller, its last known remaining american hostage, has died in syria. on friday, isis claimed mueller was killed in a jordanian airstrike on the city of raqqa. mueller's family says it has yet to see proof and maintains hope she is still alive. jordan has dismissed the isis claim as a pr stunt and the u.s. has not confirmed her death. mueller disappeared in august 2013, but her kidnapping was not publicly revealed until friday's announcement. mueller reportedly moved to the turkish-syrian border in late 2012. she had previously traveled to the middle east to work with the international solidarity movement in the occupied territories.
she graduated from northern arizona university in 2009. in her hometown of prescott arizona, a family spokesperson paid tribute to her aid work overseas. >> this was part of a life plan and a life path for her. she has gone down this helping others, being a humanitarian. it was something in her heart that she went on ahead early in her childhood and has carried into her as she has become a young lady. she said, for as long as i live i will not let this suffering be normal. i will not let this be something we just accept. it defines the young lady and she was in her adolescence and it defines her as a woman today. >> according to foreign policy kayla mueller's parents had pleaded for the pentagon not to attempt a rescue mission, saying it would jeopardize her life. u.s. forces carried out a failed bid to rescue mueller and other
captives inside syria last summer. the parents reportedly urged u.s. to seek a negotiated release. isis had reportedly demanded over $6 million for her release and sent her parents a video showing her pleading for her life. fighting continues in eastern ukraine as a last-ditch peace effort enters a critical phase. leaders from france, germany ukraine and russia will meet in minsk on wednesday following a weekend of talks in kiev and moscow. preparatory talks for the minsk summit are continuing today in berlin. ukraine says it wants a return to the terms of a september ceasefire, while russia says any new truce must reflect the gains of separatist rebels over ukrainian forces. french president françois hollande says the ongoing talks mark "one of the last chances" to avoid a wider war inside ukraine. over the weekend, russian president vladimir putin said the ukraine crisis can be traced to a u.s. refusal to accept any challenge to its global dominance.
>> it is a fact that there clearly is an attempt to restrain our development. there is an attempt to freeze the existing order, which formed in the decade which followed the collapse of the soviet union with one incontestable leader who wants to remain as such. thinking he is allowed everything, while others are only allowed what he allows. and only in his interests. this world order will never suit russia. if someone likes it, if someone was to live under conditions of semi-occupation, let them. we will never do this. >> german chancellor angela merkel is due to meet with president obama in washington today. obama will reportedly decide on whether to send u.s. military aid to ukraine in the coming days. speaking to nbc's "meet the press," secretary of state john kerry said putin's meddling in ukraine threatens the global order.
>> hopefully, it will come to a point where he realizes the damage he is doing is not just to the global order in the process, but he is doing in august damage to russia itself. and i am convinced and i think most people are convinced that each month that goes by, that will catch up to him ultimately in russia itself. >> some top administration officials, including incoming defense secretary ashton carter, have backed military aid for ukraine. at a security summit in germany, republican senator john mccain said arming ukraine against russian-backed rebels is a u.s. obligation. >> if we help ukrainians increase the military cost to the russian forces that have invaded their country, how long can putin sustain a war that he tells his people is not happening? that is why we must provide defensive arms to ukraine. putin does not want a diplomatic
solution. he wants to dominate ukraine as well as russia's other neighbors. he may make tactical compromises here or there, but just as a prelude to further aggression. mark my words. >> talks are resuming in yemen to resolve the power vacuum created with the resignation of president hadi. houthi rebels have threatened to seek power. ban ki-moon saidhadi should be restored to office. >> the situation is very very seriously deteriorating with the houthis taking power and making this government a vacuum in power. there must be restoration of legitimacy of president hadi. i am concerned all the houthis
and former president saleh have been undermining the transitional process. through all the security council and gcc initiatives. >> at least 40 people have died in egypt after supporters of a soccer team clashed with police during a game. the egyptian government has indefinitely suspended the egyptian premier league in response. nigeria has postponed this week's presidential election until late march amidst a wave of violence from the militant group boko haram. the chair of nigeria's independent national electoral commission said security concerns prompted the move. >> this is limited not just to the areas in northeast parts of nigeria [indiscernible] calling people to exercise the democratic rights in the
situation [indiscernible] >> nigerian president goodluck jonathan faces a tight race against former military ruler muhammadu buhari of the all progressives congress. the delay could stoke unrest in opposition strongholds. in the capital abuja, dozens of protesters rallied against the postponement. >> i am very, very angry. i'm not even angry at the government alone [indiscernible] the impunity, doing nothing, but expecting to be a change. where are we? >> new details have emerged on
the global bank giant hsbc's tax-sheltering and money-laundering services for wealthy and sometimes criminal clients. according to the international consortium of investigative journalists, hsbc used its private swiss arm to hide more than $100 billion in accounts used by weapons dealers, tax dodgers, dictators and celebrities. leaked files reportedly include evidence that hsbc helped its clients avoid taxes in their home countries. the documents have sparked criminal probes in several countries, including the united states. in 2012, hsbc reached a $1.9 billion settlement in the u.s. for a massive money-laundering scheme used by drug cartels and other illegal groups. among other allegations, the bank reportedly supplied $1 billion to a firm whose founder had ties to al-qaeda and shipped billions in cash from mexico to the united states despite warnings the money was coming from drug cartels. at least five people are dead and two people injured following
a shooting in georgia. the gunman killed his ex-wife and two children as well as another adult before turning the gun on himself. >> this is a tough situation, any time you have children involved in a shooting or anything like that, or chilled and hurt at all, it is just tough. it tears on your heart. it just don't make no sense. >> the chief justice of the alabama supreme court has ordered judges to a dark a federal court ruling allowing gay marriages -- ignore a federal court ruling allowing gay marriages. roy moore said no judge or official shall issue a recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with the alabama constitution or state law. the order comes just hours before same-sex marriages were said to begin. he is known for refusing to remove a 10 commandment's monument from the front of the judicial building in the early 2000. the showdown come he eventually lost.
thousands of people opposed to the oil and gas chilling process known as fracking marched in oakland, california saturday him and would organizers got the largest anti-fracking protest in u.s. history. demonstrators called on company governor jerry brown to ban fracking, citing concerns over pollution, poisoning the water supplies, and climate change. a day earlier, 12 people were arrested as protesters blocked the entrance to his san francisco office and arrested a 16 foot fracking rig in the middle of an intersection. governor brown was sworn in for a fourth term last month with a promise to address climate change. nbc news anchor brian williams has taken a leave of absence as faces an internal probe over false statements on air. williams apologized last week after it emerged he had wrongly claimed he was aboard a helicopter downed by rocket fire during the 2003 u.s. invasion of iraq. u.s. soldiers have publicly challenged his account, saying he was nowhere near the aircraft that came under fire.
williams has blamed the "fog of memory" for his mistake. on saturday, williams announced he will step down for a few days as nbc conducts a fact-finding investigation into the 2003 incident and several other reports, including williams' coverage of hurricane katrina in 2005. more than a dozen st. louis area residents have filed lawsuits accusing two suburbs of creating an illegal debtors prison by targeting african-americans with arrests and fines. a study last year found a large part of the revenue for several st. louis counties comes from fines paid by african-american residents disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. the lawsuits seek class-action status against jennings and ferguson, the site of michael brown's killing last august. in ferguson, fines and fees were the city's second-largest source of income in fiscal year 2014. ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per
household last year -- the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. the report's author, the archcity defenders, is helping bring the case. the plaintiffs want an end to the targeting and compensation for the victims. in the black lives matter movement took center stage at the grammy awards sunday as a number of performances referenced police killings of unarmed african-americans. during "happy," pharrell williams and his dancers raised their hands in the air in the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture. during the performance by beyoncé of "precious lord take my hand," the all-male choir behind her raised their hands in the air and a musician prince presented the album of the year award to beck said "outcomes still matter like books and black lives, they still matter." and those are some of the headlines, this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war
and peace report. i'm amy goodman. today in a broadcast exclusive , we spend the hour with a retired cia agent who blew the whistle on the agency's bush-era torture program. john kiriakou has just been released from prison. in a minute, he will join us from his home, where he remains on house arrest while finishing his sentence. shortly after his release last week, he tweeted a picture of him at home with his smiling children, along with a quote from martin luther king jr. -- "free at last, free at least thank god almighty, i'm free at last." in january 2013, kiriakou was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. under a plea deal, he admitted to a single count of violating the intelligence identities protection act by revealing the identity of a covert officer involved in the rendition, detention and interrogation program to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. in return, prosecutors dropped charges against kiriakou brought under the espionage act.
in 2007, kiriakou became the first cia official to publicly confirm and detail the bush administration's use of waterboarding when he spoke to abc's brian ross. >> at the time, i felt waterboarding was something we needed to do. as time has passed, and as september 11 has moved farther and farther back into history, i think i changed my mind. and i think waterboarding is probably something should not be in the business of doing. >> why you say that now? >> because we are americans and we are better than that. >> john kiriakou's supporters say he was unfairly targeted in the obama administration's crackdown on government whistleblowers. shortly after his release last week, the government accountability project's jesselyn radack issued a statement saying -- "kiriakou is a dedicated public servant who became a political prisoner because he brought to light one of the darkest chapters in american history:
the cia's ineffective, immoral and illegal torture program ... it is a welcome development that kiriakou can serve the rest of his sentence at home with his family." meanwhile, the federal prosecutor in the case, neil macbride, has defended the government's handling of the case. he spoke after kiriakou's sentencing in january of 2013. >> as the judge just said in court, today sentence should be a reminder to every individual who works for the government, who comes in at possession of closely held incentive information regarding the national defense or the identity of a covert agent, that it is critical that that information remains secure and not spell out into the public domain or be shared with others who don't have authorized access to it. >> for more, we go now to arlington, virginia where we're joined by john kiriakou who remains under house arrest as he completes his sentence.
he spent 14 years at the cia as an analyst and case officer. in 2002, he led the team that found abu zubaydah, a high ranking member of al qaeda. he is father of five. in 2010, he published a memoir titled, "reluctant spy: my secret life in the cia's war on terror." john kiriakou, welcome back to democracy now! how does it feel to be out of prison? >> utterly liberating. i actually had trouble falling asleep the first night home because i had grown so used to my bare mattress and the tingling of keys all night long. but i finally adapted. >> you're not quite free, right? how long did you serve in jail and how long do you have under house arrest? >> i served 23 months in a list security federal prison in pennsylvania.
i have three months of house arrest, and then following house arrest, i am under what is called supervised release, which is really probation for another three years. >> talk about why you believe you were jailed. >> oh, i'm absolutely convinced amy, i was jailed because of the torture debate. people leak information and washington all the time, whether it is on purpose or inadvertent. we have seen people like former cia director leon panetta former ci director general perjurious leaking -- the tray is leaking information with impunity. that has convinced me that i am right when i say my case was never about leaking. my case was about blowing the whistle on torture. >> i want to turn to former democratic representative jim moran took to the floor of the
house of representatives and called for president obama to pardon you. moran called kiriakou an "american hero" and "whistleblower." he said -- "kiriakou deserves a presidential pardon so his record can be cleared, just as this country is trying to heal from a dark chapter in its history." what is your response to that? you did not get that pardon, at least, as of yet. >> no. i am deeply, deeply grateful for the work congressman randy at. my only regret is that he is retired now. he is a very upstanding, very progressive and very decent man. i really appreciated his help. i have not formally asked for a pardon, and i probably won't this year. but there seems to be some support growing for it. i am always on the lookout congressional support. i hope i can develop that through 2015 and then maybe go
to the president sometime next year and ask for a pardon. >> with going to take a break and then go back in time and talk about what you did, talk about the fact that you are the only official related to the torture program. you blowing the whistle on torture, who has been jailed. we're talking to john kiriakou who spent 14 years at the cia as an analyst and case officer, exposed the bush era torture program, became the only official jailed in connection with it. we will be back with him at his home under house arrest in a moment. ♪ [music break]
arrest right now at his home in arlington, virginia, but he is out of jail. he spent 14 years at the cia as an analyst and case officer. he exposed the bush-era torture program and became the only official jailed in connection with it. in 2007, he became the first cia official to publicly confirm the bush administration's use of waterboarding. in january 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to confirming the identity of a covert officer to a reporter, who did not publish it. let's go back in time to your experience with zubaydah. how did you come to meet him? >> i was the leader of a cia group in pakistan that conducted a series of 14 raids on suspected al qaeda safe houses around the central part of the country. abu zubaydah happened to be in one of the houses that we
raided. after something of a gun battle, we captured him. >> so, since her interview in 2007, it has become known that zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times and he provided no useful information as a result. he remains imprisoned at guantánamo without charge. his name appears or than 1000 times in the senate report on torture released in december. talk about what you know happened to him. >> sure. abu zubaydah was shot three times while being captured, shot by pakistani authorities, once in the thigh, once in the groin once in the stomach with an ak-47. he was gravely wounded. when he was taken away from pakistan, he was sent to a secret location and the cia sent
a trauma surgeon from johns hopkins university medical center to the secret location to give him medical assistance. he underwent surgery. for some reason, he even had an eye removed. i'm not sure why that happened. over the next several months, he recovered from his gunshot ones. >> talk about how you met him. >> sure. when we first captured him, we took him to a hospital, a military hospital in pakistan. he had lost so much blood, we needed to transfuse him. he was initially in a coma. he came out of the coma a couple of times and we were at first able to exchange an initial comment and in the next couple of days, to have short conversations. for example, when he first came out of his coma, he asked me for
a glass of red wine. he was delirious. later in the evening, he asked me if i would take a pillow and smother him. the next day, we talked about poetry islam, the fact that he had never supported the attacks on the united states. he wanted to attack israel. >> and talk about what you learned happened to him from there. >> well, he was sent from pakistan to this secret location. once he was healthy enough to withstand interrogation, a group of cia interrogators -- i'm sorry, a group of fbi interrogators interviewed him. appeared to have been successful in gathering some information, but then replaced by cia interrogators, that we have now learned were untrained unprepared, and was subjected to
waterboarding in addition to other test -- torture techniques. placed in a cage. it a fear of bugs, so they put him in a small box and put bugs in the box with him. he was subject to a cold cell the lights on 24 hours a day booming music so he could not sleep. the reset things the cia did to him. >> and your response to that? >> torture is wrong under any circumstance. we know from the second world war when the justice department was interrogating nazi war criminals, we know the establishment of a rp -- of a relationship with someone results in actionable information if the prisoner has actionable information, which he is willing to give. that wasn't the case with abu zubaydah. he was beaten, waterboarded,
subject to sleep deprivation. he had ice water poured on him in a 50 degree cell every several hours. the manson pleaded not have information to give. >> when did you learn that? and when did you decide to go public with this, to reveal this information? >> i learned initially he had been waterboarded in the summer of 2002, at the end of the summer of 2002. as i said in the 2007 interview with ryan ross, i believe what the cia was telling us, that he was being waterboarded, it was working, and we were gathering important, actionable intelligence that was saving american lives. it wasn't until something like 2005 or 2006 that we realized that it simply wasn't true. he wasn't producing any information, and these techniques were horrific.
it was in 2007, amy, that i decided to go public. president bush said at the time, categorically, we do not torture prisoners. we are not waterboarding. and i knew that was a lie. he made it seem as though this was a rogue cia officer who decided to pour water on people's faces, and it simply wasn't true. torture -- the entire torture program was approved by the president himself and it was a very carefully planned out program. so to say it was rogue -- it was just a bald face lie to the american people. >> late last year, graphic new details of the post-9/11 u.s. torture program came to light when the senate intelligence committee released a 500-page summary of its investigation into the cia. the report concluded that the intelligence agency failed to disrupt a single plot despite torturing al qaeda and other
captives in secret prisons worldwide between 2002 and 2006. maybe you watch this from prison, but this is senator dianne feinstein, chair of the senate intelligence committee, outlining the report's key findings. >> the cia's enhanced interrogation techniques were not an effective way to gather intelligence information. second, the cia provided extensive amounts of inaccurate information, about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to the white house, the department of justice, congress, the cia inspector general, the media and the american public. third, cia's management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed. and fourth, the cia program was far more brutal than people were
led to believe. >> do you remember when you heard this report in jail, were you were? i assume you watched dianne feinstein on the prison tv -- and your thoughts about it? >> i was sitting in the central one unit tv room watching it with bated breath. let me say that senator feinstein is one of the cia's leading supporters on capitol hill. so for dianne feinstein to come out with a report as critical as this report was, just shows you how wrongheaded the cia torture program was. >> the report comes out and it details a list of torture methods used on prisoners -- waterboarding, sexual abuse with broomsticks, what they call rectal feeding or hydration prisoners threatened with buzzing power drills in some captives were deprived of sleep
up to 180 hours a time with hands shackled above their heads. the torture carried out up like sites in afghanistan, lapointe, romantic, poland, thailand guantánamo able base known as strawberry fields. as this unveiled, it is only you who went to jail around these issues. your thoughts on this? >> i feel i can live in the twilight zone sometimes. when the report came out, like most other americans, i was absolutely shocked and appalled at some of the details. even inside the cia, we did not know anything about rectal hydration with humus, no less, with sexual abuse or sexual assault using broomsticks. i mean, people did not even talk about those kinds of things in the hallway, so i was absolutely
shocked hearing it. this goes back to appoint i made in 2013 i made on this wonderful program. we need to prosecute some of these cases. i understand reasonable people can agree to disagree on whether or not case officers who really believed they were carrying out illegal activity should be prosecuted. i understand that. what about case officers who took the launch of their own hands or who flouted the law and raped prisoners with broomsticks or carried out rectal hydration with humus? those were not approved interrogation techniques. why aren't those officers being prosecuted? >> i want to play free president obama's comments in 2009 about whether cia officials involved in torture should be prosecuted. he appeared on the abc news program "this week." >> i don't believe anybody is
above the law. on the other hand, i also have a believe that we need to look forward as well as -- as opposed to looking backwards. and part of my job is to make sure that, for example, at the cia, you have extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep americans safe. i don't want them to suddenly feel like they have to spend all of their time looking over their shoulders. >> so no 9/11 commission -- >> we have not made final decisions, but my instinct is for us to focus on how to we make sure moving forward, we're doing the right thing? >> that was president obama right after he became president in 2009. right after, he signed one of his first executive orders, to close guantanamo. your thoughts on what he just said to george stephanopoulos? >> i understand that president obama is not going to seek the
prosecution of the cia leaders who carried out the torture -- the case officers involved in the day-to-day torture program. i understand that. the lawyers at the office of legal counsel, i understand. no problem. the what about the cia officers who directly violated the law? who carried out interrogations that resulted in death? what about the torture of hasan gooul? those people should not be above the law. they committed crimes, whether in the united states or overseas. those people should be prosecuted. >> instead you're the only one who went to prison. would you do what you did again john? >> as crazy as it sounds, yes, i would. i would do it all over again. what has happened since that
2007 abc news interview is that torture has been banned in the united states. it is no longer a part of u.s. government policy. and i am proud to have played a role in that. if that cost me 23 months of my life well, you know what? it was worth it. >> speaking to "meet the press" after the senate torture report was released, dick cheney said he would do it all again. >> i am more concerned with bad guys who got out and were released than i am with a few that effect were innocent. >> twice 5% of the detainees turned out not -- turned out to be innocent. >> where are you going to draw the line? >> i'm asking you? >> i have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. >> that was dick cheney on "meet the press." john kiriakou, should vice president cheney be tried?
>> file personal believe is, yes, sure, he should. i think there's another point. we have seen vice president cheney, former cia directors several of them, former senior cia officers go on network news programs and defend defend, defend their actions during the torture regime. the reason they are doing that is because torture is their legacy will stop when your obituary's a written, they will say that they were instrumental in the torture program. and the only thing they can do at this point to save the reputations is to keep repeating this lie that torture worked and help the american people eventually -- hope the american people eventually believe it. >> what are your thoughts today on nsa whistleblower edward snowden? what would you advise him? >> i think ed snowden is a
national hero. i think ed snowden gave us information on government illegality that we otherwise would never have had. i regret that the federal government has revoked his passport and has caused him to be stuck in russia, but i think he did a very courageous thing full step i'm not sure i would have released all of the information he released because in some cases, i want nsa to be spying on foreign governments and foreign leaders, that is what nsa is supposed to do. i want the u.s. government to have a leg up, for example in trade negotiations or defense contracting or whatever it is. but in terms of the illegality that ed snowden revealed, i think you did a great national service. >> in 2013, edward snowden commented on the obama's administrations actions. he said --
"binney, drake, kiriakou, and manning are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistle-blowing only escalate the scale, scope and skill involved in future disclosures. citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrong-doing simply because they'll be destroyed for it. the conscience forbids it. instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers. if the obama administration responds with an even harsher hand against me, they can be assured that they'll soon find themselves facing an equally harsh public response." again, those words of edward snowden. do you think edward snowden should come back to the united states john kiriakou? >> i do not. not under any circumstances. and i have said that publicly and privately to him and a letter. i do not believe that he will get a fair trial in the united states, especially in the eastern district of virginia where he is being charged or where he has been charged.
i think the deck is stacked against him as it is against any whistleblower, and if the government has its way, edward snowden will never see the light of day. >> i want to read a comment made by the judge at your sentencing hearing, john. your sentenced to 30 months in prison back in january 2013 saying -- "this case is not a case about a whistle-blower. it's a case about a man who betrayed a very solemn trust and that is a trust to keep the integrity of his agency intact and specifically to protect the identity of coworkers...i think 30 months is, frankly, way too light because the message has to be sent to every covert agent that when you leave the agency you can't just start all of a sudden revealing the names of the people with whom you worked," the judge said. your response? >> three months earlier in the hearing in which i accepted the plea, judgment, said 30 months was "fair -- what did she say?
she said it was fair and appropriate. and she compared my case to that of scooter libb you, even though scooter libb he never really the identity of valerie plane. when the courtroom was full of reporters three months later, she decided to get tough and say 30 months wasn't enough. the judge had ample opportunity to sentence me to as much as 10 years and she didn't. she sentenced me to 30 months. with that said, we had trouble with judge brinkema's rulings from the beginning. anytime we try to introduce evidence of whistleblowing, a was denied. government wrongdoing? denied. own personal history in the cia where i 112 exceptional performance awards, the counterterrorism service medal? not admissible. that has led me to believe there is no way edward snowden is
going to get a fair trial and you should not come back to virginia. >> john kiriakou, did you know the now notorious psychologist james mitchell and bruce jessen who designed the government torture program at places like guantánamo? >> know, i had never met them. when a was working in the cia's counterterrorism center, it was a very large room. we called it a cubicle farm. there were hundreds of people in this room. i remember them arriving and taking offices, private offices at the very back of the room, but i never had any personal contact with either mitchell or jessen. >> do you think they should be prosecuted? a camera, the government has decided -- >> absolutely. the government has decided not to prosecute them, but i think if they're going to be resignations, they should begin with mitchell and jessen. they were wholly unqualified for the bill of goods they sold the
cia, and they simply committed crimes overseas in the name of the u.s. government. i think they should be prosecuted for those crimes. >> the issue of revealing the name of a covert agent. why did you think that was critical in telling the story of waterboarding? >> interestingly enough, the agent whose name i was convicted of releasing, and i did release it. i did tell this reporter this chapman's name. i did not actually volunteered, i confirmed it. he are ready had it. the reporter was going to write an article saying this man was instrumental in the torture program, and that wasn't true. he was a good man. yet nothing to do with torture. he happened to be working in the rendition program. i was trying to correct the record. this reported -- this reporter when it's someone to interview about the program, asked if i
could make an introduction. i said, i don't think he will talk to. i think he is probably retired by now. and he was not part of the torture program. >> did cia officials or your coworkers, people and intelligence services, reach out to you either expressing support for you or your condemnation? -- their condemnation? >> oh, yes, dozens and dozens of former colleagues have reached out to me over the last three years. the support has been really overwhelming from a former cia colleagues. i can honestly tell you i can count on one hand the number of cia officers who have walked away from me, who have ended our friendships. and every single one of those five individuals was instrumental in the torture program. >> john kiriakou, we're going to go to break. when we come back, you wrote letters from prison. i want to talk about time in
prison, your concerns about prisons, and how you are treated, how other prisoners were treated. we're talking to john kiriakou who spent 14 years at the cia as an analyst and case officer. he exposed the bush era torture program, became the only official jailed in connection with it. in 2007, he became the first cia official to publicly confirm the bush administration's use of waterboarding. in january 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to confirming the identity of a covert officer to a reporter who did not publish it. his memoir is titled, "reluctant spy: my secret life in the cia's war on terror." kiriakou was released from prison last week, but remains under house arrest for three months. that is where we are talking to him, at his home in arlington, virginia. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. with this exclusive radio television web broadcast with john kiriakou, who is at home under house arrest in wellington, virginia. he was a cia as an analyst and case officer for 14 years. he exposed the bush-era torture program and became the only official jailed in connection with it. in january 2013, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. john, you are held in pennsylvania, the federal correctional institution there. can you talk about the letters you decide to write from their and what your life was like behind bars? >> sure. before i went to prison, several friends of mine, jesselyn
radack, jane hamsher, tom drake formerly of the nsa, daniel ellsberg, they mentioned that they thought i should write an open letter to my supporters. once i got situated in prison, just to let them know how i was doing. i thought that was a good idea. so when i got to laredo february 28, 2013, i allowed a self about six weeks to get situated. i should add, have always been a big fan of martin luther king's letter from birmingham jail. i had a copy with me in prison. i read it and reread it and reread it again. i thought, well, i will structure it in the same way and write it person-to-person. so that is what i did. much to my surprise -- this was a was supposed to go to about 600 people.
much to my surprise, it was picked up by the huffington post and from there, it went crazy. all the broadcast networks, half a dozen magazines and he got about one million hits. i realized that americans really do want to know what it is like inside prison. i should also add that fci laredo is no clog said. this is a real prison with rows and rows of concertina wire atop and astride high fences. this is a series prison. there is no golf course. there's no movie theater. it is like what you see on tv. i wanted to convey that. the letters became so popular that i made them into a series. i think i did probably 17 or 18 of them by the time i left to come home. >> john kiriakou, you wrote "people under the care of the medical unit at laredo die with
terrifying frequency." can you explain what would happen? >> a couple of examples, couple days before left to come home, i was in the medical unit giving blood for some blood tests. another prisoner wheeled -- a third prisoner in in a wh eelchair. this man was about 70 years old honestly having a heart attack. he was crying, clutching his chest and said, "i'm having a heart attack." the one who is helping me it was drawn my blood looked up at him and said, well, you're just going to have to wait because i'm the only person here and you have to wait until some deals comes in to work. that poor old man set in that wheelchair in the midst of a heart attack until somebody else came to work, diagnosed him with a heart attack, and called an imbalance to taken to a local hospital.
that kind of behavior is typical. another example, there was a man who lived across the hall from the chapel. i worked in the chapel as an orderly. this man complained routinely of back pain, severe back pain. sometimes he would be hunched over. as the weeks passed, he had a cane, then a walker, then he is in a wheelchair. i said, my goodness, what is wrong with you? he said my back is killing me and they won't take me to a hospital for tests. finally, the chaplain intervened and said, this guy's condition is obviously deteriorating quickly stop please, taken to hospital for tests. they finally took them to the local hospital and he had stage four cancer of the spine. he was dead in two weeks. that is typical of the medical care in prison, not just laredo, but all over the bureau of prisons. you wanted to be a ged instructor in the prison, but
were told he had to be a janitor at the chapel? >> right. i have a masters degree and legislative affairs bachelors degree in middle eastern studies, and i did my phd coursework at the university of virginia in international relations. so i thought well, i will make some good use of my time and all teach a ged class. when i volunteered, they told me and not very nice language, if we want you to teach an effing class, we will ask you to teach an effi as a janitorng in the chapel. >> you rightc at the end ofla one ofs your letters, "by the time you read thiss. , i will be home. now the real work can begin. i can guarantee you i am unbroken, and institutionalized and ready to fight. what is un institutionalized
mean? >> i am -- it means i never allowed prison officials in laredo to cowl me. i got into a dispute with the lieutenant who had a reputation as being a bully and provocateur. he shouted at me one day, you need to start acting more like an inmate. i said, and what is that supposed to mean? should i get a tattoo on my face? should i still food from the cafeteria result of people? does it mean going like this and saying yes, sir, no, sir sorry, sir? that is never going to happen. never. i said respect is two ways. you get respect when you give respect. and i don't respect you. and that is the attitude i maintained throughout my two years in prison. >> what most surprised to there, john? >> i was really surprised how
prisoners are treated as -- not treated as human beings. they are treated as somehow subhuman, people not to be respected, people about whose health we should not be concerned, people who don't deserve a fair hearing. it is warehousing and it is warehousing being overseen by flunkies and dropouts from the local police academy or people who could not cut it in the military. they are the people running our lives in prison. >> john kiriakou, going back to the issue you exposed, the issue of waterboarding and torture. how did the obama administration continue these programs, or did they? >> i don't think they did. there is one thing the obama
administration has continued and has really perfected it compared to what the bush administration did. and that is drone strikes. president obama has killed far more people with drone strikes and president bush ever did. >> and the issue of greece? you are a greek-american. in fact, you did some of your cia in greece. can you talk about what you did there and how you feel about what has happened today with the rise of syriza, the prime minister being the head of syriza? >> i served in greece for a couple of years going back and forth, really, between headquarters in greece. i was working on terrorism issues. at the time, it is kind of seems quite now, it was euro terrorism, communist terrorism specifically, the revolutionary
seven to november. greece is a great country, but the greeks have had a tough time for the last, especially for the last seven years or so. the recession has hit greece probably harder than any other country in western europe, certainly, harder than in the united states. part of the problem was, you had two governing parties that were really corrupted by the system. and now, syriza, which is a young, new, populist party has won a sweeping victory in the recent parliamentary elections following only 2 seats short of an absolute majority. in greece, that is an amazing feat. i am very excited about this. i think it was time for a change. it was time for a populace regime leftist populist regime that under tsiprias leadership,
the country could come out of its recession. that said, there has to be some get from the troika in terms of aid and assistance to greek. the greek people have suffered terribly. suicides are up something like 300%. there is a brain drain where doctors, lawyers engineers are moving to the united states or europe or australia. and that has to come to an end. greeks have to stay in greece and try to rebuild their country. i think that can be done under syriza. a very excited about it. >> us who come to an end of this conversation from your home under house arrest in arlington, virginia, your family -- what happened to your wife after you were convicted and sentenced? should also worked at the agency, is that right? and you also have five children. >> that's right, i five children. my wife is a highly decorated, highly respected cia officer.
she was really going places and far smarter and more accomplished than i ever was. the she was fired the day that i was arrested, only because she was related to me. and she was out of work for 10 months before finding work here inside the beltway at one of -- as a government contractor, were she is to beautifully and they love her. she was asked to leave just before she is married to me. it made raising five children very difficult. >> how are your kids now that you have come home? >> oh, great. it is wonderful. actually, my wife and i haven't had a night alone together since i got home. there are three little children in the bed with us all night long. there's lots of hugging and story telling and book reading. it has been great. they are happy to see me home. >> john kiriakou, thank you for