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:

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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.


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.