Ex-CIA officer gets prison for leaking name

Updated 26 January 2013
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Ex-CIA officer gets prison for leaking name

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia: A federal judge rejected arguments that a former CIA officer was acting as a whistleblower on the agency’s use of torture when the officer leaked a covert agent’s name to a reporter, sentencing him to more than two years in prison.
A plea deal John Kiriakou made with prosecutors required the judge to impose a sentence of 2½ years. US District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she would have given him much more time if she could.
Kiriakou’s supporters describe him as a whistleblower who exposed aspects of the CIA’s use of torture against detained terrorists. Prosecutors said his claim was laughable, given that the first public statements he made largely defended the CIA’s use of waterboarding.
Kiriakou’s 2007 interviews about the interrogations of Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah were among the first by a CIA insider confirming reports that several detainees had been waterboarded.
The 48-year-old pleaded guilty last year to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. No one had been convicted under the law in 27 years.
Absent the plea deal, federal sentencing guidelines would have called for a prison term of at least eight years, which the judge said she would have imposed. She said she understood the government’s desire to secure a deal, given the difficulties in holding a public trial for national security cases that invariably delve into classified evidence.
Kiriakou chose not to speak at Friday’s hearing, to which Brinkema responded, “Perhaps you’ve already said too much.”
Kiriakou did give a brief statement outside the courthouse after the hearing, thanking supporters.
“I come out of court positive, confident and optimistic,” he said.
Kiriakou was an intelligence officer with the CIA from 1990 until 2004.
In 2002, he played a key role in the agency’s capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan. Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded by government interrogators, revealed information that exposed Khalid Sheikh Mohamed as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Accounts conflict, though, over whether the waterboarding was helpful in gleaning intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, who was also interrogated conventionally.
Kiriakou, who did not participate in the waterboarding, expressed ambivalence in interviews about waterboarding, but he ultimately declared it was torture.
In court papers, prosecutors said the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities became alarmed after discovering that detainees at Guantanamo Bay possessed photographs of CIA and FBI personnel who had interrogated them. The investigation eventually led back to Kiriakou, according to a government affidavit.
Prosecutors said Kiriakou leaked the name of a covert operative to a journalist, who disclosed it to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.
In previously sealed court papers that were made public late Thursday, Kiriakou’s lawyers say that the journalist whom he told about the covert officer was not actually a journalist but an investigator working for Guantanamo defense attorneys.
“Mr. Kiriakou now realizes that he made a very serious mistake in passing any information to Journalist A, but he would not have done so had he known how Journalist A would make use of that information,” defense attorney Robert Trout wrote.
Prosecutors say that leak was one of many that Kiriakou made and that they simply lacked the resources to bring charges for all of the leaks.
Kiriakou was initially charged under the World War I-era Espionage Act, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain.


Afghan drugs trade rises dramatically since overthrow of Taliban

Updated 38 min 1 sec ago
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Afghan drugs trade rises dramatically since overthrow of Taliban

KABUL: By giving levy to the Taliban and bribing the very government forces tasked to destroy the bloom of his poppy fields, Sanaullah for years has been planting poppy, which is refined into opium and then into heroin.
He is one of the thousands of farmers who have turned to this industry, which has earned Afghanistan global notoriety, and which strangely has been on the rise since US-led troops overthrew the Taliban government despite the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars and a campaign of eradication.
“We are doing this because of extreme destitution. The Taliban come and take their share as tax and we also pay tip money to police and others in the government,” the farmer who operates in the southern region told Arab News.
“There is a big market for this in the region and the world, with local and foreign mafia making a big fortune out of this and even bankrolling the war here,” the 56-year-old said, requesting not to reveal the province where he lives for security reasons.
He has witnessed days in the initial years after the fall of the Taliban when foreign and government forces conducted raids to destroy poppy fields, even causing casualties on both sides. But farmers resumed cultivation.
Some commanders within the government and warlords have been profiting from the trade for years as well as the Taliban, according to locals.
There have been allegations among Afghans, even some government officials, that foreign troops are also involved in the trafficking, that how they are funding the war in Afghanistan and that demand is increasing in the international market.
In Kabul, an official who works at the special tribunal for sentencing drug dealers claimed that neither the government nor the foreign troops are “serious” at this stage about the annihilation of drugs or arresting key figures involved in the trafficking of narcotics.
“Hundreds of people have been arrested over the years on suspicion of drug-smuggling, but have you ever heard of or seen any major dealer being arrested?. They are only after small fish to show to the world that they are fighting the drugs menace,” he told Arab News.
Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst, told Arab News he has heard from farmers in the south that a new type of opium seed has come to Afghanistan that can produce multiple harvests in a year.
This week a survey for last year’s opium harvest of Afghanistan conducted by various Afghan institutions and UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) was released.
It showed an increase of 63 percent in 2017, to an estimated 328,000 hectares.
“The majority (60 percent) of opium poppy cultivation took place in the southern region of the country. The western region accounted for 17 percent of total cultivation; the northern for 13 percent and the eastern for 7 percent,” the survey said.
The remaining regions (northeastern and central) together accounted for 3 percent. The report also highlighted an increase of 87 percent in opium production, i.e. 9,000 tons from its 2016 level (4,800 tons).
Deputy Minister for Counter-Narcotics Jawed Qaem, described the illicit drugs trade as a devastating catastrophe for Afghanistan and the world, and closely interlinked with international terrorism.
He said: “Global demand for drugs is the core driver of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan; additional factors include the huge involvement of international precursor traffickers and their strong ties with the mafia in transporting the precursors into Afghanistan to convert opium to heroin.”
He added that the Taliban profited from the trade, and it was a major source for funding the insurgency.
The value of the trade of drugs has jumped to $6.6 billion last year compared to less than $3 billion in past years, he said.
Both the government and UNODC said they will keep on their campaign against drugs.