God bless Code Pink. Now, I don’t agree with many of their policy positions, but at least they practice what they believe. I am fed up, disgusted by the politicians who make a promise but, when it comes to standing firm, fold like a portable card table. I applaud Code Pink for having the courage of its convictions. Code Pink is one of the few liberal groups to challenge and attack Obama’s hypocrisy on the war and torture. Last night, Code Pink joined forces with a liberal 1 percenter, Naomi Pitcairn, to give former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, a farewell bash before he heads off to prison:
Kiriakou, who left the CIA in 2004, stepped into the limelight a few years later to confirm and describe in detail the harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, that he said agency operatives employed. He was charged with several counts related to sharing sensitive information with reporters and pleaded guilty to a single count of disclosing a covert operative’s name. He was sentenced last month.
“My case was about torture,” he said. “The CIA never forgave me for exposing the torture program and saying it was U.S. government policy.”
The $20,000 farewell bash — open bar for two hours — was underwritten by Oakland, Calif.-based activist and heiress Naomi Pitcairn and co-hosted by Code Pink, the theatrical peace group.
“I don’t think any of my Republican ancestors would have stood for torture,” said Pitcairn, whose great-grandfather co-founded Pittsburgh Plate Glass in 1883. “Civilized people do not behave that way, and so we are honoring him for his civilized behavior in a very civilized location.”
The guests included left-wing luminaries, whistleblowers and protesters — from Dennis Roberts, one of the attorneys for the Chicago Eight, to retired Air Force Col. Morris “Moe” Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, who resigned in 2007 because, as he said at the party, “I objected to the use of evidence obtained by torture.”
The case against Kiriakou is bizarre and out of proportion. He was charged with leaking the name of an undercover CIA officer. But this was not even in the same ballpark as what was done to Valerie Plame. In the oddest twist of fate, Kiriakou worked for CIA officer Robert Grenier, who is the one who told Scooter Libby that Valerie worked at the CIA. Libby in turn told Dick Cheney and put together a memo, which is how Richard Armitage at State Department learned of Val’s identity.
Kiriakou’s prosecution is, in my view, unjust:
Kiriakou, who served the agency from 1990 to 2004, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for leaking the name of an agent who participated in the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected terrorist and Osama bin Laden aide.
He pled guilty last October to one charge of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, a law signed by President Ronald Reagan that made the exposure of covert agents a federal crime under certain circumstances. The government originally sought to prosecute Kiriakou under the Espionage Act of 1917, a World War I-era law invoked at least six times by the Obama administration.
Kiriakou’s case was unique because he was the first CIA insider to acknowledge the agency’s use of waterboarding in its interrogations when he revealed it to a freelance reporter in 2007. Although Kiriakou’s lawyers admit that their client was once a supporter of the technique, they say that he had a change of heart and leaking the information was an act of whistleblowing.
Kiriakou helped journalists break the story about the use of water boarding. Kiriakou got into trouble because he lied to the FBI. He should have told the truth or, at a minimum, stated that he could not recall when asked how a journalist had gotten the name of an undercover CIA officer. John was not out peddling the name. The name actually was incidental to the information Kiriakou was sharing.
At the end of World War II, the United States prosecuted Japanese military officers for war crimes because they waterboarded our soldiers. We cannot have it both ways and retain our honor as a great nation. If we succumb to the temptation of using torture in the name of expediency, then we are no different from Japanese sadists or Nazi concentration camp guards. We were founded as a nation that insisted there were limits to the power of government and limits to what the government could lawfully do to a person. No king nor president has the right to deprive one of life, liberty or property without due course under the law.
Unfortunately, many conservatives have forgotten this principle. Citing fear of Islam and fear of terror, most conservatives have embraced enthusiastically the right to torture. Clowns like Vince Flynn, a popular writer of CIA torture porn, help propagandize this point of view. And, not surprisingly, leftists like Obama also embrace the right to torture and murder without regard for the law or the Constitution. Worse, many Republicans applaud his efforts.
John Kiriakou should not have lied to the FBI. He should have told the truth. But on the more important issue of exposing the crimes committed by CIA officers acting under orders from a President, he did the right thing for the right reason. Years from now I am confident that history will judge him kindly. For now, he goes to prison with his head held high.
One final note drenched in irony–NY Times reporter, Scott Shane, did a comprehensive piece on Kiriakou. And he quoted the David Petraeus as follows:
When Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty on Oct. 23 in federal court in Alexandria, Va., David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, issued a statement praising the prosecution as “an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country.”
“Oaths do matter,” he went on, “and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”
Yeah David, oaths matter as long as they ain’t wedding vows. It is this type of hypocrisy that makes Washington stink like a rotted fish head.