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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Ralph Nader and Colleagues Call on Obama to Pardon John Kiriakou

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

We the undersigned are writing to urge that you pardon former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Motivated as a father devoted to his children, Mr. Kiriakou recently pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981 to avoid the government’s threat of long-term devastation of his cherished family.

He pleaded guilty to the crime of providing the name of a former colleague to an author who was writing a book and searching for former CIA officers to interview, an act which seems much less censorable than Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s disclosure of the CIA’s Valerie Plame to reporter Robert Novak with impunity. Mr. Kiriakou’s disclosure never was made publicly available, and occasioned no harm to the United States. Indeed, it assisted in ending waterboarding, the crime of torture as you and your Attorney General have acknowledged. In contrast, Mr. Armitage’s disclosure was shared to the world by Mr. Novak, and reportedly placed in danger persons who had associated with Ms. Plame. The reporter of Mr. Kiriakou’s information unilaterally shared the name with the American Civil Liberties Union.

We believe that commutation is appropriate in this case for a number of reasons:

First, Mr. Kiriakou is a highly decorated, fourteen-year CIA counterterrorism veteran who has spent his entire adult life in public service, including two years as a senior aide to Senator John Kerry. He was the leader of the team that captured an al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in Faisalabad, Pakistan in 2002. He is the recipient of twelve CIA Exceptional Performance Awards, the Sustained Superior Performance Award, the Meritorious Honor Award with Medal, and the Counterterrorism Service Medal.

Second, Mr. Kiriakou is an anti-torture whistleblower who spoke out against torture because he believed it violated his oath to the Constitution. He never tortured anyone, yet he is the only individual to be prosecuted in relation to the torture program of the past decade. The interrogators who tortured prisoners, the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, and the CIA officers who destroyed the interrogation tapes have not been held professionally accountable, much less charged with crimes.

Third, there is precedent for leniency. In 2007, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was granted a commutation after being found guilty of four felony counts – obstruction of justice, making a false statement, and two counts of perjury – related to the Valerie Plame affair. Mr. Libby did not spend one day in prison. Similarly, in 2001 President Clinton pardoned Samuel L. Morison, the only person ever convicted of espionage for leaking classified information to the press.

Mr. President, do not allow your legacy to be one where only the accurate whistleblower goes to prison.

We urge you to take action in this matter. Please do not let this injustice stand. Commute John Kiriakou’s sentence.


Bruce Fein

Ralph Nader

Joan Claybrook

For more information, please contact:
The National Commission on Intelligence Misuse to Justify War
722 12th St NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC, 20005-3957