January 25, 2013
Ex-C.I.A. Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Leak
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A former Central Intelligence Agency officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison for disclosing the identity of a covert agency officer to a freelance writer, representing the first time that a C.I.A. officer will serve prison time for disclosing classified information to the news media.
The sentencing in federal court here of John C. Kiriakou, 48, who served as an agency analyst and counterterrorism officer from 1990 to 2004, was the latest development in the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on government leaks.
At the sentencing hearing, the judge overseeing the case, Leonie M. Brinkema of Federal District Court, said she would respect the terms of a plea agreement between prosecutors and Mr. Kiriakou, which called for him to serve a 30-month sentence. But she said, "I think 30 months is way too light."
In October, Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to one charge of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act when he disclosed to a reporter the name of an agency officer who had been involved in the C.I.A.'s program to hold and interrogate detainees.
Judge Brinkema said, "This is not a case of a whistle-blower." She went on to describe how the identity of the C.I.A. officer working under cover had been revealed by Mr. Kiriakou's disclosures, and the damage it had caused the agency, based on a sealed statement from the undercover agent.
Moments before issuing the sentence, Judge Brinkema asked Mr. Kiriakou if he had anything to say. When he declined, the judge said, "Perhaps you have already spoken too much."
After the hearing, Mr. Kiriakou, who did not begin his sentence on Friday and was allowed to leave the courthouse, addressed members of the news media for a few minutes.
"I come out of the court positive, confident and optimistic," he said, thanking supporters.
This week, Bruce O. Riedel, who was appointed by President Obama to lead a review of United States policies in Afghanistan, sent a letter to the president asking him to commute Mr. Kiriakou's sentence. The letter was signed by many others, including former C.I.A. officers.
Mr. Kiriakou had played a significant role in some of the C.I.A.'s major achievements after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In March 2002, he led a group of agency and Pakistani security officers in a raid that captured Abu Zubaydah, who was suspected of being a high-level facilitator for Al Qaeda.
In 2007, three years after he left the C.I.A., Mr. Kiriakou discussed in an interview on ABC News the suffocation technique that was used in the interrogations known as waterboarding. He said it was torture and should no longer be used by the United States, but he defended the C.I.A. for using it in the effort to prevent attacks.
In subsequent e-mail exchanges with a freelance writer, Mr. Kiriakou disclosed the name of one of his former colleagues, who was still under cover and had been a part of the detention and interrogation program.
The freelancer later passed the name of the undercover agent to lawyers representing several Qaeda suspects being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The lawyers later included the name in a sealed legal filing, angering government officials and kick-starting the federal investigation that ultimately ensnared Mr. Kiriakou. The name was not disclosed publicly at the time, but it appeared on an obscure Web site last October. In January 2012, federal prosecutors indicted Mr. Kiriakou, accusing him of disclosing the identity of an agency analyst who had worked on the 2002 raid that led to Abu Zubaydah's capture and interrogation.
The prosecutors said Mr. Kiriakou had been a source for a New York Times article in 2008 written by Scott Shane that said a C.I.A. employee named Deuce Martinez had played a role in the interrogation. When Mr. Kiriakou pleaded guilty last October, the charges stemming from that disclosure were dropped along with several others.
Prosecutors raised questions this week about Mr. Kiriakou's contrition. In a filing, prosecutors cited a lengthy article by Mr. Shane published this month in The Times in which he quoted Mr. Kiriakou as saying that if he had known that the C.I.A. officer was still under cover, he would not have disclosed his identity.
The prosecutors said that Mr. Kiriakou's intimation that the disclosure was an "accident or mistake" contradicted his plea that he had willfully disclosed the information.