Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who has served five months of a thirty-month sentence in the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written a fourth letter from the prison.
Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration. He was convicted in October of last year of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter and sentenced in January of this year. He reported to prison on February 28 (which was also the day that Pfc. Bradley Manning pled guilty to some offenses and read a statement in military court at Fort Meade).
For the past few months, Firedoglake has been publishing Kiriakou’s “Letters from Loretto.” This latest letter being published focuses on a hard lesson Kiriakou has learned since entering prison, which most prisoners learn during their incarceration, “one’s prison sentence is not the totality of his punishment.” There will be other things that happen on top of being sentenced.
Kiriakou describes how his wife received a “sharply-worded letter” from the insurance company, USAA – the United States Assurance Association, which had been providing his family auto and homeowners insurance since 1993. USAA notified his family that they do not “insure felons” and were canceling their insurance immediately.”
“I told my wife not to panic; call them in the morning and put the insurance in her name,” Kiriakou writes. “She did that, only to be told that USAA doesn’t insure ‘felonious families.’ Thank goodness she was able to find another, more reputable company with which to do business.”
Also, Kiriakou explains that he learned recently that he “can no longer travel freely to countries like Canada, the UK and France. These and many other countries share law enforcement databases with the US, and they do not allow felons in their countries without a special visa. So when I want or need to travel abroad in the future. I will have to go to these countries’ embassies, file a visa request form and submit to an interview about my ‘crime.’”
Kiriakou goes on to update those interested in whether the prison ever investigated the fact that he had been “baited” into taking action against a Muslim prisoner (which he described in his first letter).
Many of you have asked for an update on the event that I reported in my first letter. In that letter, I wrote about two Special Investigative Service officers who tried to bait me into taking some sort of action against a Muslim prisoner. After the letter was published, I was assured by both the warden and by a CO lieutenant that an investigation would be conducted. It turned out that the investigation was of me. My email was put on a four-day delay, both incoming and outgoing, my incoming and outgoing snail mail was stripped open and read and none of my witnesses were interviewed. I wasn’t surprised by any of this. This is exactly what happens to all whistleblowers.
According to Kiriakou, he was told that this Muslim prisoner was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, when in reality the imam was in prison for refusing to testify in the Lackawanna Six case. Prison officials then lied to the Muslim prisoner, telling him that Kiriakou had called Washington after they met and had been ordered to kill him.
In his letter, Kiriakou includes excerpts from a piece written by a former inmate named Ernie Drain, who won a writing competition “related to prison literature and voices prison” that was sponsored by the Yale Law Review. He says of Drain’s writing, “In my five months in prison so far, I have lived every word of what he wrote.”
All of this punishment is on top of the fact that he will have to meet with a probation officer for three years after he is released and the fact that he lost his pension after “19 years of proud federal service.” Plus, his legal bills now total “nearly $1 million” and he had to sell most of his “personal possessions to pay at least some of that million dollars.”
Kiriakou, in previous letters published by Firedoglake, has advised former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on secret United States government surveillance programs, on what to do in order to avoid making the mistakes he made. He has described how grateful he is to have a support network that can help him deal with the “stress of a hostile system.” He has detailed how his “new normal” in prison includes many encounters with pedophiles.
Firedoglake supports Kiriakou’s First Amendment right to share what he is experiencing in prison. If the Bureau of Prisons were to retaliate against him or punish him for speaking his mind, Firedoglake would immediately take steps to support him. John can be reached at: John Kiriakou 79637-083, Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto, P.O. Box 1000, Loretto, PA 15940. He is permitted to receive mail from anyone, and soft cover books and magazines only from individuals.
By: Kevin Gosztola