Feds Charge Former CIA Agent John Kiriakou For Illegal Leaks

Updated: Jan. 23, 3:20PM

“Heavens no.”

That’s what John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who defended waterboarding as an effective technique used against al-Qaeda suspects, allegedly told an FBI agent when asked if he had anything to do with a story which disclosed the name of a CIA agent involved in the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

But according to emails cited by an FBI agent in documents charging Kiriakou with repeatedly disclosing classified information (including the name of a covert CIA officer) to journalists, that wasn’t quite the case.

A DOJ investigation led by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald started after Guantanamo detainees were found to have photos of CIA personnel in their possession, information which hadn’t been provided by the government through any officials channels. The defense teams who provided photos of CIA personnel to Guantanamo Bay detainees did not commit any criminal violations, the investigation found. Instead, the feds say that Kiriakou, who has worked as a paid consultant for ABC News and previously worked for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, gave classified information to journalists, some of which ended up going to defense attorneys for the Guantanamo detainees.One of the journalists — unidentified by the Justice Department — allegedly “disclosed that information to a defense team investigator, and that this information was reflected in the classified defense filing and enabled the defense team to take or obtain surveillance photographs of government personnel,” said DOJ.

Kiriakou was also charged with allegedly lying to the CIA’s Publications Review Board in an “unsuccessful attempt to trick the CIA into allowing him to include classified information in a book he was seeking to publish.”

Much of the charging document is based on emails from Kiriakou to journalists and the coauthor of a book he wrote on his experience with the CIA. One emails indicates that Kiriakou told the CIA board that they “fictionalized much of it (even if we haven’t)” in an effort to get the manuscript cleared.

“I laid it on thick,” Kiriakou allegedly wrote in an email to his coauthor. “And I said some things were fictionalized when in fact they weren’t. There’s no way they’re going to go through years of cable traffic to see if it’s fictionalized, so we might get some things through.”

Update: “I cannot comment on the specifics of the case, which is an ongoing legal matter, and I want to remind all of you that the officer is presumed innocent pending the outcome of the case,” CIA Director David H. Petraeus said in a statement. “I can say, however, that the CIA fully supported the investigation from the beginning and will continue to do so.”

Second update: Kiriakou was ordered released on a $250,000 unsecured bond, the Associated Press reports.