John Kiriakou is a former CIA officer, counter terrorism expert, author and whistleblower whose name is etched in the annals of history as a man who fearlessly stood up for truth and justice.
As a CIA analyst, case officer, and counterterrorism consultant, John played a vital role in critical counterterrorism missions following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. During a pivotal operation in Pakistan, John led the capture of Abu Zubaydah, considered al Qaeda’s third-ranking official at the time.
It transpired that CIA agents had conducted “enhanced interrogation techniques”, something John had refused training in, and waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times in the hope of gleaning evidence and a confession. John never authorised or engaged in these controversial practices.
Some time after he left the agency in 2004, John conducted an interview with ABC News, where he became the first CIA officer to publicly confirm that the CIA had waterboarded prisoners, and that such an action was torture. He also confirmed that torture was an official US government policy, rather than wrongdoing by a few rogue agents.
In the immediate aftermath the government launched an investigation into John’s actions, setting him on a tumultuous path of challenges and legal battles. Five years later, he became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act.
“I’m a patriot, I love my country, I want it to succeed, but I think it’s making a lot of mistakes.”
Despite the relentless pursuit by authorities, John remained steadfast in his commitment to truth and justice and took the heart-wrenching decision to plead guilty to one non-espionage count in exchange for a 30-month sentence, sparing his family from further turmoil.
John spent two years behind bars and in doing so, for many, became something of an American hero. As an author he has written numerous bestselling books including – “The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror” and “Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison”.
Throughout his distinguished career, John received countless awards, including the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civil Courage, honouring individuals who advance truth and justice despite personal risk.
His life and sacrifices expose the hypocrisy in the government’s treatment of intelligence whistleblowers. While he faced prosecution for exposing torture, others who committed more severe offences remained untouched. This selective approach to justice has been a glaring flaw in the pursuit of truth.
John was unable to continue working in his field and later became co-host of a daily show on Sputnik Radio, while he continues to fight injustice and highlight human rights abuses taking place right under the noses of US citizens.
John’s life and career have been defined by his unwavering commitment to integrity and the courage it took to blow the whistle. His legacy is one of challenging the status quo, the importance of defending one’s principles, and why we should never shy away from standing up for what is right.
John’s story reminds us all that in the face of adversity the truth shall always prevail. I can’t wait to take a deep dive into John’s life and also his vast knowledge of government practice, the inside workings of the CIA and how he reflects on everything that is happening in the world today from the Ukraine War, to the looming presence of China, mass surveillance and the war on alternative media.
“There are some things we should not do, even in the name of national security.”
Watch the trailer for this exclusive video interview with John Kiriakou:
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