Ex-CIA man likely to plead guilty in leak case

October 23, 2012

The Associated Press on October 22, 2012 released the following:

“By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former CIA officer accused of leaking the names of covert operatives to journalists is expected to enter a guilty plea as part of a plea deal.

A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for John Kiriakou. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges that he disclosed the names of two covert CIA operatives.

The apparent change comes shortly after Kiriakou lost a key pre-trial ruling that established a lower legal burden for prosecutors to prove their case. Kiriakou’s lawyers had argued unsuccessfully that prosecutors should have to prove that Kirkiakou intended to harm the United States through his alleged leaks. Such a strict legal standard had been imposed recently on a leaks prosecution against two pro-Israel lobbyists.

But U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled last week that such a high standard should not apply to Kiriakou, a government employee with top-secret security clearances who knew well the dangers of disclosing classified information.

Instead, prosecutors would only have to show that Kiriakou had “reason to believe” that the information could be used to injure the U.S.

Court records do not make clear exactly what charges Kiriakou would plead to. When he was indicted in April, he was charged with one count of disclosing classified information identifying a covert agent, three counts of illegally disclosing national defense information and one count of making false statements. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts in the indictment.

Kiriakou, who wrote a book detailing his CIA career, had tried to argue after the charges were filed that he was a victim of vindictive prosecution by government officials who believed he portrayed the CIA negatively, but the judge rejected those arguments as well.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined comment Monday. Kiriakou’s attorney, Robert Trout, also declined comment.

Kiriakou was a CIA veteran who played a role in the agency’s capture of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded by government interrogators and eventually revealed information that led to the arrest of “dirty bomb” plotter Jose Padilla and 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 Zubaydah. Kiriakou, who did not participate in the waterboarding, expressed ambivalence in news media interviews about use of the tactic.

Court papers indicate that 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. The investigation eventually led back to the alleged leaks by Kiriakou, according to a government affidavit.

The papers indicate prosecutors believe Kiriakou leaked the name of one covert operative to a journalist, who subsequently disclosed the name to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.

Kiriakou had planned to subpoena three journalists connected to the case. Those journalists had filed motions to quash the subpoenas, but that issue will now be rendered moot by the apparent plea deal.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Polish Ex-Official Charged With Aiding C.I.A.

March 28, 2012

The New York Times on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“By JOANNA BERENDT and NICHOLAS KULISH

WARSAW — The former head of Poland’s intelligence service has been charged with aiding the Central Intelligence Agency in setting up a secret prison to detain suspected members of Al Qaeda, a leading newspaper here reported on Tuesday, the first high-profile case in which a former senior official of any government has been prosecuted in connection with the agency’s program.

The daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the former intelligence chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, told the paper that he faced charges of violating international law by “unlawfully depriving prisoners of their liberty,” in connection with the secret C.I.A. prison where Qaeda suspects were subjected to brutal interrogation methods.

When President Obama took office in 2009, he said he wanted to “look forward, as opposed to looking backward” and rejected calls for a broad investigation of C.I.A. interrogations and other Bush administration counterterrorism programs. In sharp contrast, the Poles see the case as a crucial test for rule of law and the investigation by prosecutors here has reached the highest levels of Polish politics.

One of Poland’s prime ministers during the period when terrorism suspects were alleged to have been subjected to torture in Poland, Leszek Miller, could be charged before Poland’s State Tribunal, the newspaper said.

“We try to treat our Constitution seriously and try not to forget the fact that there was a manifest violation of the Polish Constitution within the country’s borders,” said Adam Bodnar, vice president of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, based in Warsaw.

The effect, Mr. Bodnar said, is not simply a matter of looking back, as Mr. Obama said, but also of warning future leaders and officials that they can not operate with impunity. “This case is a huge threat to any Polish official that he will know in the future that such things cannot happen,” Mr. Bodnar said.

C.I.A. officers have been distressed by the public controversies that have broken out over the interrogation program in Poland and other countries, where foreign officials were assured that their assistance would always remain secret. But human rights advocates have applauded the inquiries overseas into what they believe was torture and illegal detention.

While successive American governments have chosen to avoid accusations of abuses, in Poland, where memories of the Communist era and its repressions remain sharp, prosecutors have moved aggressively to tackle the issue. Although pro-American sentiments run high in Poland, there is also great unease after decades of Soviet domination that the country is giving too much influence to a powerful ally.

Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Mr. Siemiatkowski had been charged in January but the matter had been kept secret until now. Prosecutors refused to confirm the reports, which cited an anonymous source in the prosecutor’s office as well as Mr. Siemiatkowski himself. “The investigation will remain confidential until further notice,” said Piotr Kosmaty, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Krakow, which has been handling the inquiry.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.

The C.I.A. has never formally revealed the location of the overseas “black site” prisons, but intelligence officials, aviation records and news reports have placed them in Afghanistan, Thailand, Romania and Jordan, as well as Poland and other countries. Out of fewer than 100 prisoners held in the facilities, roughly 30 were subjected to what the C.I.A. called “enhanced” interrogation techniques, according to agency officials.

In Poland, detainees were held in a makeshift prison at a secret base near Szymany Airport, about 100 miles north of Warsaw. All three of the C.I.A. prisoners who were waterboarded are believed to have been held in Poland, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged in the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole; and Abu Zubaydah, who ran a terrorist camp and facilitated militants’ travel.

But all three of the men spent time at other black sites as well, and it is not certain which interrogation methods were used where. Lawyers for Abu Zubaydah and Mr. Nashiri in 2010 filed a formal request with Polish authorities asking them to take criminal action in connection with the C.I.A. program.

Joseph Margulies, a lawyer for Abu Zubaydah, said that he was pleased by the news of charges, which he said were the first to be brought anywhere as a result of the black site program.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did order a limited investigation of the interrogation program. Mr. Holder announced in July that no charges would be filed in connection with interrogations at the black sites but that the deaths of two prisoners in American custody, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, remained under investigation.

Polish officials have long denied charges by human rights groups that the country hosted one of the black sites employed by the C.I.A. in the campaign against terrorism. Mr. Miller, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2004 and is the leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, a left-wing party in Poland’s Parliament, continues to deny that Poland was ever the site of secret detention facilities.

“I refused to answer any questions from the prosecution and I shall continue to do so at every other stage of the proceedings, including in court,” Mr. Siemiatkowski told the newspaper.

Mr. Bodnar said: “I remember the lessons of constitutionality given by the Americans in the early ’90s, always saying to us, you have to create a new constitution and every action by state authorities must have limits. Poland has just learned this lesson well.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Former CIA officer accused of terror leaks

January 23, 2012

The Associated Press on January 23, 2012 released the following:

“By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — In the latest criminal case in the Obama administration’s effort to punish leakers, an ex-CIA officer who helped track down and capture a top terror suspect was charged Monday with disclosing classified secrets about his teammates to the media.

John Kiriakou (keer-ee-AH’-koo), 47, of Arlington is charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the Espionage Act. A judge at a federal court hearing ordered Kiriakou to be released on a $250,000 unsecured bond.

According to authorities, Kiriakou told a New York Times reporter classified information about a fellow officer who participated in interrogating suspected al-Qaida financier Abu Zubaydah in 2002, eight months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times and his case has been made an example by those who believe the interrogation technique should be outlawed.

According to an affidavit, FBI agents interviewed Kiriakou last week, and he denied leaking the names of covert CIA officers. When specifically asked whether he had provided the Zubaydah interrogator’s name to the Times for a 2008 article, he replied “Heavens no.” A New York Times spokeswoman said the newspaper declined comment.

Kiriakou’s attorney, Plato Cacheris, said after his hearing that a potential defense argument could be that the charges criminalize conduct that has been common between reporters and government sources for decades. If convicted, Kiriakou could face decades in prison and a fine up to $1 million.

Prosecutors started their investigation after defense attorneys for suspected terrorists filed a classified legal brief in 2009 that included details that had never been provided by the government. Authorities concluded that Kiriakou had leaked the information to reporters, and that reporters had provided the information to the defense.

The charges state that Kiriakou, who was an intelligence officer from 1990 to 2004, leaked information about the identity of another officer who interrogated Zubaydah. In a 2007 interview with ABC News, Kiriakou said that waterboarding was used – effectively – to break down Zubaydah. But he expresses ambivalence about the use of waterboarding in general.

Kiriakou has worked as a consultant to ABC News, although he hasn’t appeared on the network since early 2009. ABC had no comment on his arrest.

According to a court affidavit, the photographs of the CIA officer who participated in the Zubaydah interrogation were found in the possession of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The charges also accuse Kiriakou of lying about his actions in an effort to convince the CIA to let him publish a book, 2010’s, “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror.”

Since leaving the agency, Kiriakou has worked as a consultant and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies in 1986 and a master’s degree in legislative affairs in 1988, both from George Washington University in Washington.

The Justice Department’s campaign to punish leakers has been unrelenting. This is the sixth criminal leak case opened under the Obama administration and the second involving a former CIA officer and The New York Times. Federal prosecutors claim Jeffrey Sterling divulged classified information to Times reporter James Risen about CIA efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Sterling is awaiting trial.

“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Today’s charges reinforce the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable anyone who would violate the solemn duty not to disclose such sensitive information.”

In light of the indictment, CIA Director David Petraeus reminded his agency’s employees of the essential need for secrecy in their work.

“When we joined this organization, we swore to safeguard classified information; those oaths stay with us for life,” he said “Unauthorized disclosures of any sort – including information concerning the identities of other Agency officers – betray the public trust, our country, and our colleagues.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


C.I.A. Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight

August 26, 2011

The New York Times on August 26, 2011 released the following in print:

“WASHINGTON — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the C.I.A.’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.

Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

Mr. Soufan, an Arabic-speaking counterterrorism agent who played a central role in most major terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005, has told colleagues he believes the cuts are intended not to protect national security but to prevent him from recounting episodes that in his view reflect badly on the C.I.A.

Some of the scores of cuts demanded by the C.I.A. from Mr. Soufan’s book, “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda,” seem hard to explain on security grounds.

Among them, according to the people who have seen the correspondence, is a phrase from Mr. Soufan’s 2009 testimony at a Senate hearing, freely available both as video and transcript on the Web. Also chopped are references to the word “station” to describe the C.I.A.’s overseas offices, common parlance for decades.

The agency removed the pronouns “I” and “me” from a chapter in which Mr. Soufan describes his widely reported role in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an important terrorist facilitator and training camp boss. And agency officials took out references to the fact that a passport photo of one of the 9/11 hijackers who later lived in San Diego, Khalid al-Midhar, had been sent to the C.I.A. in January 2000 — an episode described both in the 9/11 commission report and Mr. Tenet’s book.

In a letter sent Aug. 19 to the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, a lawyer for Mr. Soufan, David N. Kelley, wrote that “credible sources have told Mr. Soufan that the agency has made a decision that this book should not be published because it will prove embarrassing to the agency.”

In a statement, Mr. Soufan called the C.I.A’s redactions to his book “ridiculous” but said he thought he would prevail in getting them restored for a later edition.

He said he believed that counterterrorism officers have an obligation to face squarely “where we made mistakes and let the American people down.” He added: “It saddens me that some are refusing to address past mistakes.”

A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Jennifer Youngblood, said, “The suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency has requested redactions on this publication because it doesn’t like the content is ridiculous. The C.I.A.’s pre-publication review process looks solely at the issue of whether information is classified.”

She noted that under the law, “Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t mean it’s been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government.”

A spokesman for the F.B.I., Michael P. Kortan, declined to comment.

The book, written with the assistance of Daniel Freedman, a colleague at Mr. Soufan’s New York security company, is scheduled to go on sale Sept. 12. Facing a deadline this week, the publisher, W. W. Norton and Company, decided to proceed with a first printing incorporating all the C.I.A.’s cuts.

If Mr. Soufan ultimately prevails in negotiations or a legal fight to get the excised material restored, Norton will print the unredacted version, said Drake McFeely, Norton’s president. “The C.I.A.’s redactions seem outrageous to me,” Mr. McFeely said. But he noted that they are concentrated in certain chapters and said “the book’s argument comes across clearly despite them.”

The regular appearance of memoirs by Bush administration officials has continued a debate over the facts surrounding the failure to prevent 9/11 and the tactics against terrorism that followed. In former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir, set for publication next week, he writes of the harsh interrogations that “the techniques worked.”

A book scheduled for publication next May by José A. Rodriguez Jr., a former senior C.I.A. official, is expected to give a far more laudatory account of the agency’s harsh interrogations than that of Mr. Soufan, as is evident from its tentative title: “Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

Government employees who hold security clearances are required to have their books vetted for classified information before publication. But because decisions on what should be classified can be highly subjective, the prepublication review process often becomes a battle. Several former spies have gone to court to fight redactions to their books, and the Defense Department spent nearly $50,000 last year to buy and destroy the entire first printing of an intelligence officer’s book, which it said contained secrets.

The C.I.A. interrogation program sharply divided the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., whose director, Robert S. Mueller III, ordered agents to stop participating in the program after Mr. Soufan and other agents objected to the use of physical coercion. But some C.I.A. officers, too, opposed the brutal methods, including waterboarding, and it was their complaint to the C.I.A.’s inspector general that eventually led to the suspension of the program.

“The Black Banners” traces the origins and growth of Al Qaeda and describes the role of Mr. Soufan, 40, a Lebanese-American, in the investigations of the East African embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000, 9/11 and the continuing campaign against terrorism.

Starting in May, F.B.I. officials reviewed Mr. Soufan’s 600-page manuscript, asking the author for evidence that dozens of names and facts were not classified. Mr. Soufan and Mr. Freedman agreed to change wording or substitute aliases for some names, and on July 12 the bureau told Mr. Soufan its review was complete.

In the meantime, however, the bureau had given the book to the C.I.A. Its reviewers responded this month with 78-page and 103-page faxes listing their cuts.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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