Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Torture-Denouncing CIA Agent Shares His Tales Following Two Years in Jail

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

A Torture-Denouncing CIA Agent Shares His Tales Following Two Years in Jail

Article excerpt

A CIA agent's tales from the federal slammer


ARLINGTON, Va. - John Kiriakou claims to have achieved an exceedingly rare double-distinction for a federal inmate upon his incarceration: being greeting warmly by black nationalists from the Nation of Islam, and invited to dinner by white supremacists.

He was never a normal inmate.

Kiriakou arrived in prison with countless state secrets, had participated in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, led post-9-11 counterterrorism arrests in Pakistan, and had learned Arabic for his old job.

His old job was being a spy.

He was jailed for telling journalists a bit too much about his former employer: the CIA. He insists he was punished for blowing the whistle on the use of torture in 2007, not because he tipped off journalists to the identity of a couple of former spy colleagues, which is why he was charged.

"I'm 100 per cent positive," Kiriakou says in an interview at home, where he's completing his sentence under house arrest after two years in jail.

He's adamant that he's being singled out. Lots of names leak out of the agency without consequences, he says. Also, he accuses the FBI of trying to entrap him several times and failing.

To avoid a return trip to prison, there are limits to what he'll say in interviews.

He will describe how former CIA colleagues protested the arrest, transfer, and torture in Syria of Canadian Maher Arar -- but he absolutely won't reveal the name of a woman in CIA middle-management who he says insisted on Arar's arrest.

He'll gladly discuss his latest book. He'd already published one about his CIA career. This forthcoming one was written by hand, in prison.

It's titled, "Doing Time Like A Spy -- How the CIA Taught Me To Survive And Thrive In Prison." It offers 20 life-lessons learned in the CIA, and used in the slammer.

He describes tricking two particularly repellent inmates. One had raped numerous prostitutes. Another ordered a hit on his business partner, then ratted out the hitman.

Kiriakou told one that the other had called him a rat, one of the worst prison insults. A fight ensued. One was moved to another prison, the other to solitary: "I thought, this is a way to get rid of both of them," Kiriakou said.

Fights were actually rare. Most were about TV. A near-scuffle also broke out at the Mafia Christmas dinner -- a guy from one Mob family didn't save a seat for a guy from a rival clan.

"Words were exchanged... It was more of a shoving match."

He spent plenty of time with the Italians, eating with them during his second year in jail. He'd dined with white supremacists in Year One.

The cafeteria sections were segregated, mostly by race: African-American, Latino, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Mafia, and the least coveted tables were reserved for the those on the lowest rung of the prison hierarchy -- child molesters and informants. …

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