Monday, June 3, 2013
P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto
Loretto, PA 15940
Mr. John Kiriakou:
After catching the publication of one of your letters on Firedoglake, and possessing a great professional investment in the controversies surrounding whistleblowing, I thought I would take some time to reach out to you, a prisoner of conscience, in order to better understand not only the personal toll your whistleblowing has taken but also any ruminations you might be able to offer on some puzzling legal questions. I am including a copy of a recent article I contributed to In These Times magazine regarding the relationship between national security and civil liberties. I have a few questions. I would appreciate your please setting me straight should my facts be otherwise.
In early 2009 I had the opportunity to hear “Matthew Alexander” – the pseudonym of a former Air Force interrogator in Iraq with which you are no doubt familiar – speak at an American University forum and offer his opinion that waterboarding was a poor security choice because of its, he purported, ineffectiveness. Having perused your book and caught your Democracy Now! interview, I found your openness to the concept that waterboarding, torture, is effective, albeit amoral, one of the most striking facets of your perspective. Considering the resentment that techniques like waterboarding inspire from the international community, why do you suppose that individuals, such as “Alexander,” consider (short-term) effectiveness such an important part of the argument around waterboarding?
Recently, a friend pointed out to me Executive Order 13526, which you may recall, iterates that “[i]n no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified … in order to … conceal violations of law.” If the Obama administration chose to discontinue waterboarding, specifically due to it being a violation of treaty obligations, in what sense, if any, was the information you relayed in your ABC interview, daresay your book, functionally a violation of the law in the eyes of the next administration?
From my review of your plight, it would appear that your and your family suffer, in part, due to a journalist, in whom you placed your trust, having revealed Guantanamo treatment information to detainee defense attorneys. Do you in some sense now blame that journalist for any kind of ethical breach—even if that leak to defense attorneys were to help expedite justice for the indefinitely held?
Also, I was curious as to your opinion on the meaning of extant whistleblower protections, given that what constitutes “wrongdoing” by authorities, higher-ups inherently bears some degree of subjectivity. What is conscience, if not sublimely subjective?
I hope you are well. If you wish, in replying, feel free to advise me on the nature of your treatment and its level of fairness, as you wait out what I’m sure will be arduous months. Thank you.
#GropeCrew has highlighted the tense and predatory sexual atmosphere at Nerd Conventions.
DALLAS — A group of dedicated trolls have taken to the Twitter hashtag #GropeCrew, expressing their desire to fondle women in skimpy anime costumes at the A-Kon anime convention. Sexual harassment and assault at similar conventions has been a topic of recent outrage and discussion, and some conventions like DEF CON have gone as far as issuing “yellow cards” as warnings to harassers.
These types of conventions are a haunting ground of sex-deprived nerds, who swarm in the thousands to meet so-called “booth babes,” or hypersexualized women in costumes who inhabit the dangerous intersection between childish sexual fantasies and anime fandom. Groping, harassment and even sexual assault are extremely common at conventions like A-Kon; and despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of #GropeCrew, the targeting of specific booth babes has hit a raw nerve.
“I’m tired of being eye-raped by teenage nerds every time I dress up as a sexy cartoon character,” said one anonymous booth babe. “I’m thinking of sitting out the next convention. This year has been a paranoid nightmare since the Grope Crew tweeted my picture.”
Supporters of the #GropeCrew say that they’re merely highlighting a problem that needs to be addressed, while most others seem to believe the atmosphere of sexual conflict at the A-Kon convention has only become more negatively charged because of their antics.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - At least 23 slave laborers were disciplined with cattle prods Monday when Cambodian police were called in to end a pay protest at a Nike sweatshop.
Police with riot gear were deployed to move about 3,000 female workers who had blocked a road leading to the factory.
Nike, along with corporations such as H&M, Walmart and Forever 21, have been criticized for moving plant locations when the cost of local exploitation became too high for shrewd and careful shareholders.
Plants might leave a country because its weak government cannot withstand the social pressures of a nationwide call for minimum wage hikes. When a worker stands to make $88 per month making thousands of pairs of $100 Nikes per day, and the government is no longer able to accept bribes from the corporations to halt social progress, the factories move out.
Look, I know you news writers wanna help, but these people aren’t like you and me. They’re used to being treated like shit.
“These dumbass slaves who think they can squeeze more than they deserve out of their corporate masters are gonna be sorry once they finally run ‘em out of here,” said Raleigh Saker, Lebal Drocer spokesperson. “Who’s gonna feed ya gruel then? Fuckin’ savages.” Saker admitted he questions why his company chose Cambodia in the first place: “Look, they don’t even wear shoes. You think they know anything about sewing them?”
Eighty-eight dollars, Saker said, is “absurdly high” for people living in corrugated sheet metal housing with dirt floors.
“It’s lavish,” he said. “They won’t know what to do with all that money. They might could even hurt themselves. It’s for their own good, really.”
In other news, a ceiling collapsed on several Cambodian workers this month, killing two of them like rats crushed by a rotting ship cabin floor. They were putting together a high-quality pair of Asics running shoes. Asics allow you to run fast, trampling human rights with ease.
Authorities declined to comment on the clash, saying they were still counting bribe money. A press release stated the stack of money was “so large” they were considering hiring sweatshop labor to help count the currency, which “just kept coming in.”
Portrait of Kiriakou, by artist unknown, taken from Kiriakou’s Twitter account
In January we reported on John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who recently started his 30-month stint in federal prison—for what he said was acting on pangs of conscience, not endangering national security, as judges and prosecutors would have it. Brian Sonenstein, at Firedoglake’s Dissenter blog, received a prison letter, and we’ve taken the time to transcribe it all over again to include what was crossed out in the Dissenter text: an accusation the incarcerated father of five seemingly began to level at the Justice Department, not just the “Bureau of Prisons,” for his mistreatment.
An address to write to Kiriakou is at the bottom of the letter.
“Letter From Loretto”
Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy. But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.
At my formal sentencing hearing in January, the judge, the prosecutors, and my attorneys all agreed that I would serve my sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp. When I arrived, however, much to my surprise, the Corrections Officer (CO, or “hack”) who processed me said that the Justice Department Bureau of Prisons had deemed me a “threat to the public safety,” and so I would do serve the entire sentence in the actual prison, rather than the camp.
Processing took about an hour and included fingerprinting, a mug shot (my third after the FBI and the Marshals), my fourth DNA sample, and a quite comprehensive strip search. I was given a pair of baggy brown pants, two brown shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, and a pair of cheap sandals. My own clothes were boxed and mailed to my wife. The CO then led me to a steel bunk in “Central Unit” and walked away. I didn’t know what to do, so I took a nap.
My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight. My cellmates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs, a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, a Puerto Rican serving [7 ½ years ?] 7 ½ years for drug conspiracy, and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who’s doing [unintelligible] years a long sentence for corruption. They’re all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other’s company.
The prison population is much like you might expect. Loretto has 1,369 prisoners. (I never call myself an “inmate.” I’m a prisoner.) About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the whites prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran Ponzi schemes. Of the 1,369 prisoners, 40 have college degrees and 6 of us have master’s degrees. The GED program is robust. (Bust when I volunteered to teach a class my “counsellor” [sic] shouted, “Dammit, Kiriakou! If I wanted you to teach a fucking class, I’d ask you to teach a fucking class!”) I’m a janitor in the chapel. I make $5.25 a month.
The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completed covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. I turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans, but more accurately self-important hillbillies.
The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and Hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I’ve described.
Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.
I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.
The only thing close to a problem that I’ve had has been from the Cos. When I first arrived, after about four days, I heard an announcement that I was to dread: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office immediately.” Very quickly, I gave my wife’s phone number to a friend and asked him to call her if, for some reason, I was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) more commonly known as the hole, or solitary confinement. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but this kind of thing happens all the time.
When I got to the lieutenant’s office, I was ushered into the office of SIS, the Special Investigative Service. This is the prison version of every police department’s Internal Affairs Division detective bureau. I saw on a desk a copy of my book, The Reluctant Spy, as well as DVD copies of all the documentaries I’ve been in. The CO showed me a picture of an Arab. “Do you know this guy,” he asked me. I responded that I had met him a day earlier, but our conversation was limited to “nice to meet you.” Well, the CO said, this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we had met, he called a number in Pakistan, reporting the meeting, and was told to kill me. I told the CO that I could kill the guy with my thumb. He’s about 5’4” and 125 pounds compared to my 6’1” and 250 pounds. The CO said they were looking to ship him out, so I should stay away from him. But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison? He should be in a maximum. So I asked my Muslim friends to check him out. It turns out that he’s an Iraqi Kurd from Buffalo, NY. He was the imam of a mosque there, which also happened to be the mosque where the “Lackawana [sic] 7” worshipped [sic]. (The Lackawana 7 were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.) The FBI pressured him to testify against his parishioners. He refused and got five years for obstruction of justice. The ACLU and several religious freedom groups have rallied to his defense. He had nothing to do with terrorism.
In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we would have spent the rest of our sentences in the [unintelligible] SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat.
The only other problem I’ve had with the COs was about two weeks after I arrived. I get a great deal of mail here in prison (and I answer ever letter I get.) Monday through Friday, prisoners gather in front of the unit CO’s office for mail call. One female CO butchers my name every time she says it. So when she does mail call, I hear “Kirkaow, Kiriloo, Teriyaki” and a million other variations. One day after mail call I passed her in the hall. She stopped me and said, “Are you the motherfucker whose name I can’t pronounce?” I responded “Ki-ri-AH-koo.” She said, “How about if I just call you Fuckface?” I just walked away and a friend I was walking with said, “Classy.” I said to him, “White trash is more like it.” And hour later, four COs descended on both of our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first “shake-down.” Lesson learned: COs can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned.
I’ll write about COs more next time. If you’d like to drop me a line, I can be reached at John Kiriakou 79637-083, P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto, Loretto, PA 15940.
Best regards from Loretto,
William Binney, former NSA analyst, sits in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City during a 2012 discussion about the federal government and their access to citizens’ private information.
(Jacob Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons)
It’s been a frightening few weeks for journalists concerned with protecting their sources—and for Americans concerned with protecting their privacy. On May 13, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of reporters’ call logs. Citing the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Verizon Wireless for the call logs of more than 20 AP phone lines. Within a week The Washington Post reported that in 2010 the DOJ had subpoenaed emails from Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent James Rosen’s personal Gmail, also with the motive of prosecuting leakers.
The revelations have caused a furor over whether national security interests should trump civil liberties. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the DOJ surveillance an “unprecedented intrusion.” Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news, released a statement calling the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen “chilling” and an “outrage.” He wrote, “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen's] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
And a Pew survey showed a plurality of voters, 44 percent, disapproved of the DOJ obtaining AP phone records. Thirty-six percent, on the other hand, approved of the department’s obtaining the records.
What’s been largely overlooked, however, is that, subpoenaed call logs aside, the government may be recording your actual phone calls. And your emails. And all that data may be a mouse click, not a subpoena, away.
Read more at In These Times.
WASHINGTON–Joe Biden bargains away civil rights to defense contractors.
This government doesn’t love you. It doesn’t want to protect you.
This government wants your vote so they can fucking hurt you. They lie to you, making vague statements like you don’t fucking know better, like you don’t fucking know any big words, so they can take your shit away and put it in their bank vaults because they’re protecting their sick friends who make fucked gambles on your life savings so they can buy child prostitutes at home, and abroad.
This government, my friends, has a thousand tentacles for every smiling face, all wanting to rape you, looking you in the eyes, and telling you, “It’s okay.”
This government sends out agents to chat you up, make you feel good, like you’re better than your peers, like you’re better than the trash you write among, like you make better choices, you’re a clearer thinker, you’re a smarter breed, than those fucking criminals we know you all walk behind.
This government is your friend, your father, it makes decisions for your body, rapes you with ultrasound wands, says you can’t get married or you’ll break the broken sacred tax code used for secret murders you can not stop. This government holds you against your will, with your head in a dark bag, as it waterboards you for information you sincerely do not wish to give up. This government is worse than your abusive Big Brother of 1984.
This government is just plain old, fucking, Big.
Michael Sheehan demonstrates how he holds the puppet strings.
The War became permanent Friday after senior Obama administration officials said they have “no intention” of “ever stopping” the hugely successful ‘War on Terror.’
Assistant Defense Secretary Michael Sheehan said they are “pre-emptively” calling any future administration that tries to stop the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) “treasonous” for aiding whoever the enemy is by then.
“We don’t know who in the shit we want to shoot at next, but by God I hope to hell it’s some Jihadi-ass sand people,” said Sheehan, adding, “I don’t fuck with no Russians.”
Sheehan warned against any future acts of Congress or government that dare to try and stop the permanent war before it is over.
“We have gone forward with legislation that automatically detains any leader, indefinitely, who tries to end this horrifying, successful permanent war policy,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan was stupefyingly candid with reporters Friday, saying the war has already become so profitable for his friends, it would be “a death wish” to American freedom of flow of capital into his pockets to end it too soon.
“We are hesitant to put a timetable on the War on Terror. I don’t know if terrorism is EVER gonna go away—not while it’s profitable, anyway,” said Sheehan.
Sheehan said he no longer fears retaliation from a culture he describes as being “indoctrinated” into the police state from early childhood on up.
“Your faggot kids are worse than you CNN-watching couchtards,” said Sheehan. “I mean, they’re too afraid now to even skip class, and that’s where they’re taught to join the military and become heroes like in them vidyagames they’re always playing.”
Sheehan said America’s going to have to learn to tighten its belt while all this war mongerin’ gets under way in meaningless countries like the Congo and Syria. Sheehan said he has hopes, however, that the economy can still support “a whole shitload” of profitable wars he has planned.
“We still have the whole education budget—and NASA! For fuck’s sake, do you realize how much money we are wasting on Medicare right now?” Sheehan said, looking up at the ceiling. “Good gosh-a-mighty, we could even cut back on infrastructure, and just let the whole fuckin’ place rot.”
Kim Dotcom has faced illegal surveillance by the New Zealand government and now faces extradition to the United States. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Eccentric German-Finnish billionaire Kim Dotcom and his attorneys fired back at federal prosecutors Wednesday by accusing them, alongside other domestic authorities, of conspiracy to “deprive defendants of their presumption of innocence.” Dotcom is currently fighting attempts to extradite him from his haven in New Zealand, where he has faced illegal surveillance from that government, in addition to the charges of mass copyright violation that motivated the surveillance. According to his indictment by the United States last year, Dotcom’s former media-sharing website Megaupload was at some points responsible for 4 percent of all Internet traffic.
Dotcom’s lawyers wrote Wednesday, “[T]he outside motivating factor in this case stems from Motion Picture Association of America’s (erroneous) view of Megaupload as “the very top of the piracy pyramid,” coupled with the current Administration’s desire to placate an association whose members, as a group, are some of the Democratic Party’s strongest political supporters and most generous campaign contributors.”
Read more at Opposing Views.
A leading watchdog group named Renzi, above, as one of the top 20 most corrupt congressmen for three straight years. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Opening arguments in the Tucson trial of former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi (R-AZ) began Wednesday with federal prosecution characterizing Renzi as having engaged in “lying and stealing … taking advantage of people” and having “sold out his office.” Meanwhile Renzi counsel Kelly Kramer contended that his client “didn’t extort anybody … solicit any bribes” or “defraud anyone.” Charged with 32 counts of conspiracy, fraud and extortion, if convicted the three-term former congressman from Arizona’s 1st District could face up to 400 years of prison.
Dennis Wagner writes at The Arizona Republic:
In 2005 Resolution Copper Mining wanted surface rights to an ore-laden national forest area near [the town of] Superior. Another investment group involving former Gov. Bruce Babbitt [(D)] was seeking to trade private conservation land for potential development properties owned by the government near Phoenix.
In response to their request, Renzi allegedly replied, “No Sandlin land, no deal.”
“That’s extortion,” said Justice Department attorney David Harbach Wednesday.
Read more at Opposing Views.
Terrorists mourn loss of terror comrades.
“It worked in Pakistan. It’ll work here.”
The drone program is here to protect your children from terrorism, and serve this country. Do you want your precious, innocent child to be abducted and groomed into a Punjabi-loving terrorist? Or do you want little Timmy to grow up to be a god damn PATRIOT?
Ask yourself, America, if you wouldn’t be satisfied to exchange a little freedom for the terrorists for the added benefits of security for you and your loved ones. Live without fear of terrorism, America, for the US Government is here to help you get over those fears.
We will force you to love us.
American forces are waiting outside your door, and they’re demanding that you let them in, to help you. Let us help you. Won’t you please donate your dignity for just pennies a day to assist YOUR GOVERNMENT in helping you? Help us help you find peace in a perpetual state of holy war against us. The Jihad is upon us now, more than ever before, and you have a unique opportunity to “change” the world for the better.
Invite change into your home today. Register yourself online. Donate your guns to the local police department, so we can turn them on the true terrorists, you.
American lives are at risk, and you can help us put a stop to the influx of unAmerican activity going on in this country because of people like Mexicans, A-rabs, and other breeds of sand people we could all live without. America, why didn’t you listen? You never listen…
This is your final warning.
This message brought to you proudly by Lebal Drocer, Inc – sponsor of many fine wars of aggression to uphold the ruling elite who know what’s right for you and your pathetic family.
“I mean. What. Did you masturbate those kids out at the last minute?”