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Convicted CIA Torture Whistleblower Describes Prison Life In Remarkable Detail

Alex Constantine - December 10, 2014

John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer sentenced to two and a half years in prison for leaking the name of a secret agent in charge of the CIA's Bush-era torture program, has written a letter detailing his initial time served at the Federal Correctional Institute in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

The letter reveals a very interesting perspective of a trained intelligence officer - Kiriakou worked for the CIA from 1990 to 2004 - co-mingling with a variety of common criminals.

Kiriakou, 47, who pleaded guilty in October and began his sentence in February, begins the letter by saying that his imprisonment is "punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA's illegal torture programand for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy."

Here are some of the highlights from his picture of prison life:

  • My cellmates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs; a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, and a Puerto Rican serving 7 1/2 years for drug conspiracy; and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who's doing a long sentence for corruption. They're all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other's company.
  • Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the white 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 six of us have master's degrees. The GED program is robust.
  • I'm a janitor in the chapel. I make $5.25 a month.
  • It 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.
  • [One female Corrections Officer] stopped me and said, "Are you the motherf----- whose name I can't pronounce?" I responded, "Ki-ri-AH-koo." She said, "how about if I just call you F---face?"

Check out the full letter >

Kiriakou goes on to explain why he gets along with each ethnic demographic in prison, saying: "So far, so good."

He also claims that Corrections Officers tried to get him into a violent confrontation with a Muslim inmate by telling him he was the uncle of the Times Square bombers, adding: "Instead, we're friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat."

In a 2007 interview with ABC, Kiriakou confirmed for the first time that Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda detainee, had been subjected to waterboarding.

In 2008 Kiriakou confirmed that name of the chief of the CIA's Rendition, Detention, Interrogation (RDI) teams to ABC journalist Matthew Cole, and confirmed the role of another CIA employee in classified activities regarding "black sites."

"He gave names with that expectation that they be contacted and may choose to speak about it," Kiriakou's lawyer, Robert Trout, said when his client was sentenced. "Naively, he didn't appreciate that he could lose control of it."

Kiriakou is the first and only person linked to the controversial "enhanced interrogation" program to be prosecuted.