There will be no prosecution, at least for now, of the former CIA agent, Mr. Kiriakou, for his revelations about the torture (his words) of terror suspect Abu Zubayda whilst Mr. Zubayda was in the custody of the agency. Kiriakou has told ABC and NBC News that not only did he participate in the torture of Mr. Zubayda via waterboarding, but that the torture was cleared, specifically, up the chain of command from CIA headquarters to the Justice Department to the White House. The former agent said that each time agents wanted to use "harsh interrogation techniques" on a suspect, they didn't just do it willy nilly -- they had to get specific permission to do so, technique by technique.
So why is he talking?
On Dan Abrams' show last night it was clear that John Kiriakou wants to protect the reputation of the CIA, and to clear the agency of having acted somehow in a rogue fashion, waterboarding people willy nilly simply because agents wanted to do so. It seems pretty clear what his motivations are: to inoculate the CIA while redirecting the responsibility for what was done to the White House. Along with that, Kiriakou is telling the media in no uncertain terms that he felt that what was done was torture, but that he personally deemed it necessary, even "forced" -- at the time, "to save American lives."
Maybe on "24" (I've never heard one convincing piece of evidence that Abu Zubayda knew anything of importance regarding supposed future terror attacks on the United States. If torture worked, why didn't one of the torturees tip off the CIA to the Bali bombings, or the tube bombings in London...?) In fact, many on my end of the blogosphere are quite skeptical of the right's "torture works! ...but only for us..." claims.
Lesson number one from Kiriakou's tale is that you can't beat the CIA. Even the Bush administration, which operates with almost Darth Vader's Empire-like radicalism when it comes to lawbreaking, can beat the spooks. They always hit back. And no president that I can think of has ever out-foxed them. Bush has blamed the CIA for the "bad" intelligence on Iraq, when actually, his vice president and Pentagon cooked the vague intel coming out of Langley for the purpose of pushing the Congress, and the country, into a war with Iraq. Bushies imply that it was the CIA, and the FBI, who dropped the ball before 9/11, though somebody must have briefed Bush's then National Security Advisor Condi Rice, because she knew full well that "Bin Laden was determined to attack the United States" on at least August 6th, a full month before the attacks.
Back to Mr. Kiriakou... ABC reports on his "get out of prosecution" card (which is mirrored, apparently, by the White House's even as it becomes crystal clear that there's obstruction of justice afoot. From ABC:
The former CIA intelligence official who went public on ABC News about the agency's use of waterboarding in interrogations, John Kiriakou, apparently will not be the subject of a Justice Department investigation, even though some CIA officials believe he revealed classified information about the use of waterboarding.
"They were furious at the CIA this morning, but cooler heads have apparently prevailed for the time being," a senior Justice Department official told the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
Gen. Michael Hayden, the CIA director, did sent out a classified memo this morning warning all employees "of the importance of protecting classified information," a CIA spokesperson told ABCNews.com.
... and then, that new classified memo got out. Hm.
I don't know about you, but I think the spooks doth protest too much. They like having this guy out there. He's not hurting them -- he's hurting the people the CIA lifers apparently distrust -- George W. Bush and his band of nut-o-cons.
Here's Kiriakou on Abrams last night:
And here's part two, where poor GOP hack Jack Burkman tries to roll out the talking points, to hilarious effect: