Silenced (2014) Movie Script

-come on!
[ telephone rings ]
-in january of 2012,
the fbi called me at home
and said,
"can you come to the washington
field office thursday at 10:00?"
i said, "absolutely."
so, i went down to
the washington field office,
and they began
asking me questions.
well, i've spent my entire
adult life working with the fbi.
so, the fbi needs my help,
i'm happy to help.
it wasn't until i was about
an hour and 45 minutes
into this interview
that i realized,
"wait a minute.
they're investigating me."
-we need to be honest with you.
-and they said, "well,
we need to be honest with you.
we're executing
a search warrant on your house
right now as we speak,
and we're seizing
all of your electronics."
-what i experienced
as a whistle-blower
sends the most chilling
of messages
about what the government can,
and i will emphasize, will do
when one speaks truth
to and of power.
-there is information
that the public
in a functioning democracy
has a right to know.
-what does it do?
so, your whole body
rails against it?
-warrantless wire-tapping,
torture --
we only know about that
because of whistle-blowers.
[ thunder rumbles ]
-i knew i could not
remain silent.
if i remained silent,
i'd be complicit to the
subversion of the constitution.
if i remained silent
as a senior executive assigned
to the national security agency,
i would be an accessory
to a crime.
such people were forced
to choose
between their conscience
and their career,
but now the stakes
are much higher --
they risk their freedom
and their lives.
-i did not commit a crime.
i'm going to trial,
and i'm gonna
prove myself innocent.
i'm not the pushover
that these guys think i am.
i'm as tough as they are,
and i'm gonna fight.
[ "twinkle, twinkle, little
star" playing on piano ]
-no, i'm sorry.
they're all metals.
john, did you get her?
-where's max?
-he's sleeping.
-sorry to wake you up,
but it's dinner time.
-bless us, oh, lord,
and these thy gifts,
which we are about to receive
from thy bounty.
through christ our lord, amen.
-father, son, holy spirt.
-in my heart,
i believe i'm gonna win.
my wife tells me
every time i start to feel
a little depressed,
"you have the truth
on your side."
[ laughs ]
and she's right.
i haven't done anything wrong.
-his name is john kiriakou,
a cia undercover officer
for 15 years.
-did you feel comfortable
with the techniques?
-uh, frankly, no.
and i elected to, uh,
to forego the training.
-i was the first cia officer,
or former cia officer,
to confirm
the use of torture techniques
against al qaeda prisoners.
-what is it like?
-uh, you feel like
you're choking or drowning.
it was already in the news.
the washington post,
for example,
had reported that the cia
had used torture techniques,
and human rights watch
had reported it
and amnesty international
had reported it.
so, in the back of my mind,
i didn't think
i was saying anything new.
-would you call it torture?
i had never been
on television in my life.
i truly expected this to be
a 10-minute interview
that they whittle down
to 15 seconds.
instead, he asked me about
abu zubaydah and about torture.
and i think that waterboarding
is probably something
that we shouldn't be
in the business of doing.
-why do you say that now?
-because we're americans,
and we're better than that.
-that interview became
a major international story.
i ended up getting calls
from every network in america.
the cia filed
a crimes report against me,
saying i had leaked
classified information
by admitting that waterboarding
had taken place.
thank goodness
that the justice department said
that it was not classified
and declined to pursue
a case against me then.
and i think it's good
that we're having
a national debate about this.
we should be debating this.
and congress
should be talking about it
because i think as a country,
we have to decide
if this is something
that we want to do
as a matter of policy.
with that interview,
i became a cia dissident.
whether i knew it or not,
whether i liked it or not,
i was an outsider
from that day onward.
[ keyboard clacking ]
-i'm fighting to have
my september 10th country back.
it's a very, very
dangerous direction.
the pendulum swung after 9/11,
and instead of swinging back
to some kind of equipoise,
it just swung even further
in the direction of secrecy.
and that includes
that includes the crackdown
on whistle-blowers.
that includes
secret signing statements.
it includes
shutting down lawsuits
with the state secrets
i mean, there is a whole bevy
of secrecy tactics
that the government uses.
every time you bring up
civil liberties
that have deteriorated
or been tossed out completely
in the name of
national security,
people think somehow you're
siding with the terrorists --
"oh, you want
our country to suffer."
quite the opposite.
people want our country
to continue to live up
to the ideals
on which it was founded.
[ thunder rumbles ]
-it's not something
you aspire to.
this is not a career goal
to become a whistle-blower.
it's not.
it doesn't matter whether it's
in the public interest or not.
they can pejoratively say it's
leaking, unauthorized leaking.
so, whistle-blowers,
it's clear,
have become
an endangered species,
to say it that way,
and you have
a government who's decided
that they need
to become extinct.
the last thing they want
is people spilling the beans
on what the government's doing
under the rubric of secrecy
and national security
behind the scenes.
to use the espionage act,
it is the harshest thing
you can charge someone with.
they were sending,
deliberately sending,
the strongest possible message.
they set the target.
they put the bull's-eye on me
and said, "we're gonna make
an example of him."
[ thunder rumbles ]
i was born in louisiana.
my father was an officer
in the u.s. air force.
but the bulk of my growing up
was actually in vermont.
and that's where
i went to high school,
that's where i became
a young adult.
-i was born and raised
in a small town
in western pennsylvania,
north of pittsburgh,
in amish country.
i always had a fascination
with international affairs.
i was an avid ham radio operator
when i was a kid, for example.
-i grew up
in columbia, maryland.
i grew up in a somewhat
dysfunctional family,
and therefore,
at a very young age,
the concept of justice
became very central to me.
-the attorney general had
the authority to authorize it.
-i remember sitting
in social studies class,
watching the watergate hearings.
-i authorized wire tapping
and other related activity.
-seeing these incredible
of law and the fourth amendment,
high crimes and misdemeanors as
specified in the constitution --
no one was above the law,
not even the president
of the united state of america.
-i went to college
in new england, and law school.
i dreamed of working
at the justice department.
you go into court
and you have the imprimatur
of the united states behind you.
and you get to wear
the white hat,
and you get to always be
on the right side
of whatever you're arguing.
so, when i got the job
at the justice department
right out of law school,
for me, that was
my dream job.
-i was mostly interested
in the middle east
because when i was
in high school,
the iran hostage crisis
was ongoing.
and i thought, "i'm gonna go
to george washington university.
it's two blocks
from the white house."
-i made a choice
that i would join the air force
for a few years
as a cryptolinguist.
and a cryptologic linguist
is someone
who listens to communications
of other countries
in different languages.
and the country that i
specialized in was east germany.
-my advisor, it turned out,
was undercover as a professor.
he was actually a cia officer
acting as what was then called
a spotter.
and he asked me
if i was interested
in working at the cia.
i said, "sure. why not?"
and i went through the process
and found myself at the cia.
-i went to the cia
for a short stint.
and then i became
a government contractor,
systems software engineering,
from mid '89
all the way through until 2001.
february of 2001,
i just happened
to be going through the sunday
edition of the washington post.
and it's like,
"oh. interesting."
nsa was actually looking to hire
people in from the outside.
well, it's the call
to serve your country.
and here was an opportunity
at a very senior level,
so i applied.
i was offered a position.
took the oath to support
and defend the constitution
for the fourth time.
and the first day
that i reported
to the national security agency,
to my duty station,
was 9/11.
-i ended up joining
a newly created ethics unit
called the professional
responsibility advisory office.
we were there
to keep you out of trouble.
rather than opr,
the office of professional
that disciplines you
when you do something bad,
we were there
to render advice prospectively
to help keep you
from doing something unethical.
the first couple of years
were really amazing,
to get to form
and grow this office,
but after 9/11, there was
definitely a sea change.
-there's pre-9/11...
[ people screaming ]
...there's post-9/11.
and what took place
in those weeks and months
just after 9/11
established the basis for
everything else that happened.
-everything changed
in the intelligence community
on september 11th.
-it took a few years
for it to unwind,
and much of what was going on
inside the country
was done in absolute secrecy
for the first four-plus years.
no one knew.
[ radio chatter ]
-"we're gonna kill all of them."
that was very much the feeling
in the cia after september 11th.
now, for many people, that
wore off after a period of time,
but for others inside the cia,
they never lost that feeling,
that belief that this was
a war to the death,
that there was no gray area
between black and white.
-there was a lot
of cutting corners.
there were a lot
of shortcuts going on.
there were a lot
of creative gymnastics going on.
and that can be seen in,
like, the torture memos
and the reasoning in those
by my law school classmate
john yoo.
-after 9/11, it became
even more important for nsa
just to get all the data it
could, no matter where it was.
"we just need it."
and i was told that.
"we just need it, tom.
we just need the data."
it was crisis.
but it became clear within
the space of a few days
that this was not
a normal crisis.
i was in a meeting with...
with the person i reported to,
said that 9/11
was a gift to nsa.
"9/11's a gift.
we're finally gonna get
all the money we've ever wanted
from congress --
all of it and more."
their whole
counterterrorism effort,
which was extraordinarily small
prior to 9/11,
all of a sudden grew
by leaps and bounds after 9/11.
george tenet,
who, at the time,
was the director
of central intelligence,
he issued an intelligence-
community-wide memo,
"whatever you got in the labs --
it's a prototype, test bed --
put it into the fight
'cause we need it."
so, i was tasked
to go out to the ends of nsa
to find those systems,
bring them to the attention
of senior leadership
so we could
actually deploy them.
one that i brought to their
attention shortly after 9/11
was called thinthread.
thinthread, i have to say,
was an extraordinary program.
they had a system ready
for operational deployment
well prior to 9/11,
which, by the way,
had built into it the fisa rules
that absolutely protected
u.s. person information.
it was designed that way.
that solution was rejected.
and i said,
"why is nsa rejecting
the thinthred solution?"
and i wasn't gonna give up
'cause i knew
something was amiss.
i wrote a formal memo
expressing my greatest alarm.
i also had informed her
that i was hearing
very disturbing information
that nsa could be
in probable violation
of fisa
and the fourth amendment.
i had people who came to me
in private,
who were telling me, "tom,
why are we taking equipment
that we use to monitor
the communications
of foreign nations
and turning it on ourselves?
i thought we can't surveil
americans without a warrant."
i was told,
"if you have a problem,
speak to the office
of general counsel."
-i have a phone conversation
with the senior attorney
assigned to the office
of general counsel.
and then i heard
the following words --
"nsa has become the executive
agent for the program.
it's been reviewed
by all the attorneys.
the white house
has approved it.
it's all legal."
as soon as he said,
"it's all legal,"
the hair stood up
on the back of my neck.
what i didn't know
at that time
is that nsa, under general
michael v. hayden,
had entered into a secret
agreement with the white house.
a very small number of people
even knew about it.
but what's crucial here
is that equipment
that was traditionally
foreign-facing, outward-facing,
was now being turned
on our own country,
that pandora's box
had been opened up.
we would now instrument
the united states of america,
and we would treat
this nation
as the equivalent
of a foreign country
for the purposes of dragnet,
blanket electronic surveillance
on a vast scale.
-when i was arrested,
it was national front-page news.
fox news even put
on their ticker,
"ex-cia officer
gives intelligence to al qaeda."
-this morning,
a former cia officer
is accused of repeatedly leaking
classified secrets to reporters.
-investigators say
he potentially put the lives
of covert officers at risk.
-these are very serious charges
for the ex-cia intel officer.
-prosecutors say
he told three journalists
the role of a cia officer
and the capture
of a top al qaeda leader.
-abu zubaydah,
reportedly waterboarded
more than 80 times,
a controversial
interrogation technique.
-a senior person
at the heritage foundation
called me a traitor in an op-ed
in the san francisco chronicle.
i forced myself to read
some of these articles,
and in every one
of these articles,
jesselyn radack was quoted.
and i thought,
"wow, this woman gets it,
that there's a difference
between leaking
and whistle-blowing,
that what i blew
the whistle on
was government illegality."
and i thought,
"i have to meet this woman."
-you become a whistle-blower
by operation of law
when you make a disclosure
that you reasonably believe
evidences fraud, waste, abuse,
or illegality.
when you look
in the dictionary
and the synonyms
for whistle-blower
are things
like snitch, back-stabber,
there are all these
negative connotations
that go with you bucking
the system --
you're not a team player,
you're a traitor,
because that is
the ultimate label.
what's even more interesting
is that they brought up
the word whistle-blower.
-i'm not
a criminal defense lawyer.
what i do
is represent whistle-blowers
and often work in tandem
with criminal defense lawyers
on these
espionage act cases.
-judge brinkema
specifically warned them
not to dump discovery on us
on the eve of the trial.
-in kiriakou's case,
the government's ticked off that
he called waterboarding torture,
that he revealed torture
as a program
and not some rogue pastime,
and that he wrote a book
in which he's very critical
of cia's torture
and the behavior of the fbi.
that's what the government's
really mad about.
-john kiriakou
was a cia intelligence officer
from 1990 to 2004.
he is charged with violating
the espionage act
by passing classified...
-a journalist called john
and asked him to confirm a name,
which he did,
which is routinely done
by former agency officials,
and for that, they charged him
with the espionage
and intelligence identity
protection act counts.
the espionage act
is this arcane 1917 law
that is meant to go after spies,
not whistle-blowers.
it was inconceivable that you
would use such a heavy-handed,
out-of-scope, arcane law
to go after someone.
i thought we figured that out
40 years ago
with dan ellsberg and his case.
when tom drake was indicted
under the espionage act,
i thought it was
a strange one-off.
though, four months later,
stephen kim, an analyst
at the state department,
was also indicted.
at that point, i looked back
and realized this guy,
shamai leibowitz,
the year before,
had plead guilty.
it was under a different part
of the espionage act,
but there was starting
to be a pattern.
when you look at
the totality of it,
you have shamai leibowitz
of the fbi, contract linguist,
tom drake of the nsa,
stephen kim
of the state department,
jeff sterling of the cia,
john kiriakou of the cia,
and bradley manning, army,
and you realize
for obama to have
six of these on his watch
and they are all people
who are in the national security
or intelligence fields...
-a breach at the nation's
top security agency.
-a young army private
is now being formally charged
in connection with leaked video.
-there are common threads
of government overreach,
and trying to cover up some
of our worst sins as a country
whether it was a war crime
or whether it was
secret domestic surveillance
or whether it was torture.
-stephen jin-woo kim accused
of violating the espionage act.
-charged with repeatedly
leaking classified secrets.
-leaking classified information.
-top-secret information.
classified information.
-according to the federal
indictment, thomas drake was...
-it's the most serious charge
that can be leveled
against an american.
it's saying,
"you are an enemy of the state."
why use that?
to send a very chilling,
chilling message
to people
to keep quiet.
-after september 11th,
i became the chief
of counterterrorism operations
in pakistan.
i was told
on my first day
to come up with
the standard operating procedure
for taking down
a terrorist safe house.
so, i literally sat at a desk
with a legal pad, thinking,
"well, how am i gonna do this?
what would be the first thing
i would want to do
if i was gonna
take down a safe house?"
well, i would want it
to be dark.
so, let's say 2:00
in the morning we'll do it.
so, i wrote 0200
at the top of the page.
and then little by little,
i came up with this plan.
finally, we got a report
from headquarters
that abu zubaydah
was somewhere in pakistan.
now, at the time,
we thought that abu zubaydah
was the third-ranking person
in al qaeda.
and all we knew was that
he was somewhere in pakistan,
but pakistan's
the size of texas.
he made one mistake
that allowed us
to narrow his location down
to 14 different sites.
so, we brought in
a large team from headquarters,
half cia, half fbi.
we brought in weapons and
electronics and walkie-talkies,
and we hit all 14 sites
at exactly the same time.
and he happened to be
in one of the houses.
he tried to escape by jumping
from the roof of his house
to the roof of
the neighboring house,
and the pakistanis
shot him three times
in the stomach,
the groin, and the thigh.
and he was
very gravely wounded.
[ helicopter blades whirring ]
he was out of it
for a day and a half
before he finally
came out of a coma,
but i was the first person
to speak to him.
at first, he asked
for a glass of red wine.
and then,
a couple hours later,
he asked me to smother him
with a pillow.
once he sort of had his bearings
and he realized,
"oh, my god,
the americans have me,"
he wanted to know
what was gonna happen to him,
where he was gonna be sent.
he was very frightened,
i think of the unknown.
i didn't know
where he was gonna go,
and i didn't know
that he was gonna be tortured.
i didn't have a need to know.
[ fly buzzing ]
he would recite poetry to me
that he had written.
-[ speaking in arabic ]
-he cried at the thought of,
he said,
"never knowing
the joy of fatherhood,
never knowing
the touch of a woman."
i remember telling him,
"i should hate you
and i should want to kill you,
and i don't."
i said, "you're pathetic."
i mean, he was just a young guy.
he wasn't even 30 years old.
and all he did was cry.
and i remember saying
to a colleague of mine,
"this is the fearsome al qaeda?
this is what we've been
so worried about
and so frightened of?"
it was a revelation to me.
they're just guys.
they're just --
and not even that,
they're just young,
illiterate guys
that had nothing else to do.
and believe me when i say 99% of
them had never read the quran.
they weren't true believers.
they hadn't pledged fealty
to osama bin laden.
they just wanted to get out
of that village in yemen
and maybe make
a couple of bucks.
it made me think
the mission wasn't all
it was cracked up to be.
and then, a colleague
came in and said,
is sending in a private jet
to pick him up and take him
to his next location."
at about 3:00 in the morning,
we wheeled him out.
he was so upset,
he asked me to hold his hand.
he asked if we
were going to kill him,
and i said, "no.
no, we've been looking for you
for a long time.
in fact," i said, "you're
gonna get the best medical care
that the u.s. government
has to offer."
and so, the doctor gave him
a shot of demerol,
and it knocked him out.
and we loaded him
onto this private jet.
[ jet engines whirring ]
one of the guys
who had flown out
to escort him
to his onward location
got off the plane.
the guy was dressed
completely in black --
black mask, black hat,
black sweater.
and he said my name.
he said, "john?"
and i said, "who are you?"
and he lifted up his mask,
and he was a former supervisor
of mine at headquarters.
and he said,
"what are you doing here?"
and i said, "oh, i'm
chief of counterterrorism."
i said,
"what are you doing here?"
he said, "i'm gonna
take your prisoner onward."
he said, "who is he, anyway?"
and i said, "i'm sorry, man.
you don't have a need to know."
and i said,
"where are you taking him?"
and the guy said,
"i'm sorry, man.
you don't have a need to know."
and i said, "well, safe flight."
and the plane took off,
and i never saw him again.
[ jet engines roar ]
when i returned
to headquarters from pakistan,
i was told that the cia
had begun a program
that they were calling enhanced
interrogation techniques,
and did i want to be trained
in the use of these enhanced
interrogation techniques?
uh, i had
a visceral problem with it.
first of all,
let's call it what it is --
it's torture.
they can call it
whatever euphemism they want,
but it's torture.
so, i went back to
the counterterror center,
and i said,
"i have a problem with this,
and i don't want
to be involved."
and then i heard rumors
that we had created
this system of secret prisons
around the world,
that even the heads of state
in these countries
didn't know that we had
these secret prisons there,
that these were deals struck
between the head of the cia
and the head of whatever
that country's service was.
these weren't meant
to be permanent facilities.
they were just meant
to extract information...
[ muffled shouting,
water dripping ]
-...where we didn't have
to worry
about laws or human rights.
but, you know, those of us who
weren't read into these programs
only got this
in bits and pieces.
i had no idea how extensive
this secret prison system was
until a couple of years
after i left the agency
and i read about it
in the press.
because we're americans
and we're better than that.
-but at the time,
you didn't feel that way.
-at the time, i was so angry
and i wanted so much
to help disrupt future attacks
on the united states
that i felt it was
the only thing we could do.
-and with zubaydah,
you think that was successful.
-it was.
i had been misinformed
by the cia.
the cia told
those of us in headquarters
that they had waterboarded
abu zubaydah one time,
that he had cracked,
and that he had provided
actionable intelligence.
-he answered every question
just like i'm sitting here
speaking to you.
-so, in your view,
the waterboarding broke him.
-i think it did, yes.
-and did it make a difference
in terms of...?
-it did.
the threat information
that he provided
disrupted a number of attacks,
maybe dozens of attacks.
that turned out
to be untrue,
and we know it was untrue
because in 2009,
the cia inspector general's
report was released,
indicating that abu zubaydah
had been waterboarded 83 times
and still did not provide
actionable intelligence.
[ water pouring ]
believe me, for the life of me,
i wish i could take that back.
but i talked about the issue
with the information
that i had at the time,
and the information
was just simply incorrect.
abu zubaydah may never have been
an al qaeda member,
now, in retrospect,
we're finding out.
he may have been somebody
who supported al qaeda's goals,
he may have been someone who
was a professional logistician,
where he was helping them
procure medicine
or false documents.
we don't really know.
but he was not
the senior al qaeda official
that the cia and nsa
and the white house
wanted us to believe.
-so, i actually, like --
everything was vacuumed,
i laid down the stuff.
-my husband
was incredibly supportive.
and so, i think
that was a saving grace.
when all this horrible stuff
was going on,
i could go home and there was
sort of this safe haven.
[ laughs ]
give me a kiss.
-you know, i promised myself
when i was going through this
that if i ever
got out of this mess,
i would dedicate my life
to representing whistle-blowers.
whistle-blowers come in here
and they all say to me,
"you will not believe
what i'm going through."
and i can actually look them
in the eye and say,
"yes, i will, and i do
because i know what the
government's capable of doing."
my becoming a whistle-blower...
began on december 7th of 2001.
[ telephone rings ]
and i got a call
from the criminal division
saying that the fbi
on the ground in afghanistan
had captured an american
fighting with the taliban.
and my counterpart
wanted to know,
could the fbi interrogate him
without a lawyer?
and i was told unambiguously
that this american,
a guy named john walker lindh,
was represented by counsel.
now, for my office,
this was a bread-and-butter
kind of question.
i said, "no.
it would be
a pre-indictment interview
of someone
who was in custody,
and it was not
an undercover operation."
i went home over the weekend,
not thinking about it.
and i came back on monday.
and the gentleman from
counterterrorism called back,
and he said,
"oops, we did it anyway.
"the fbi went ahead
and interrogated him.
what do we do now?"
you know, i was trying to work
with the criminal division
and saying, like,
"okay, look,
i understand you're on
the battlefield,
heat of war,
and they
interrogated him anyway.
so, let's figure out
how to do cleanup."
so, i advised
that they should seal off
the interview
of john walker lindh
and use the information
only for national security and
intelligence-gathering purposes,
but not for criminal
pictures were circulating
worldwide by that time
of this guy, naked,
bound to a board with duct tape,
blindfolded, hands tied
in front of his genitals.
it was pretty clear this guy
was not being treated well.
in fact, this looked very much
like what we saw
years later at abu ghraib.
[ camera shutters clicking ]
-today i'm announcing
the filing of criminal charges
against john walker lindh.
-the attorney general,
was into these
very flashy press conferences.
and he held one,
saying that they were
going to be filing charges
against john walker lindh.
and a reporter asked if he had
been permitted to have a lawyer.
and ashcroft said...
-i think it's important to
understand that the subject here
is entitled
to choose his own lawyer
and to our knowledge has not
chosen a lawyer at this time.
this afternoon, a grand jury in
the eastern district of virginia
returned a 10-count indictment
against walker lindh.
-a couple weeks later, again,
he was asked about the treatment
of john walker lindh.
and he said that
john walker lindh's rights...
-...including his rights
not to incriminate himself
and to be represented
by counsel
have been carefully,
scrupulously honored.
-so i felt, like,
he's flat-out lying.
any human
can read the newspaper
and see pictures
of this guy being tortured.
-and his defense argues
that his statements
to the fbi
are unreliable
because he made them
after being held
for two or three days
in this metal container.
-and more information
was coming out...
his hands and feet
painfully bound
to a stretcher.
-...that he had
a bullet in his leg,
that he was
being held in a box.
i was getting very much
a vibe from my boss to drop it,
and i was concerned there was
an ethical violation here.
we still have not resolved
this with the criminal division
about how to deal with it.
and she said...
-i want you to close the file.
-..."i want you to close
the file."
it was clear
that there was another plan
that was being put into place,
and it was to prosecute this guy
and make an example out of him.
-he's accused of conspiring
to murder american citizens,
supporting terrorists,
and supplying services
to the taliban.
-the government was now
filing a criminal complaint
against this guy.
he was the first
terrorism suspect
to be prosecuted after 9/11,
and there was literally
a national hysteria
around the case.
-he tried to kill
american troops.
-1950s, what he did
would have been called treason,
and he would have been
sentenced to death.
-he's a traitor.
he should have been executed.
-two and two didn't
add up to four until march.
the prosecutor in the
john walker lindh criminal case,
the case i advised
against bringing,
contacted me directly.
and he said, "as you know,
there is a federal court
discovery order
for all justice
department correspondence
related to the interrogation
of the american taliban
john walker lindh.
and i have two of your e-mails,
and i wanted to make sure
i have everything."
and i knew i had written
way more than two e-mails.
so, immediately,
i became very concerned.
and, you know, i went upstairs,
and i'm like,
i'm gonna straighten this out
because i know the file
was like an inch thick."
and i went and looked
in the file, the hard copy file,
and there were
two pieces of paper in there.
i mean,
there was a fax cover sheet
and two very innocuous e-mails.
[ sighs ]
and i had a knot.
i felt like
i was gonna be physically ill.
i consulted with
a colleague of mine
who was a very seasoned attorney
on the verge of retirement.
he worked in
the ethics division with me.
and he looked at the file
and said, very matter-of-factly,
"this file has been purged."
and i thought, "what?
we're the government.
like, we're prosecuting enron
and arthur anderson right now
for destruction of evidence
and obstruction of justice.
what do you mean
it's been purged?"
the stuff in that file
was very damning
because it said that the fbi had
committed an ethical violation
in its interrogation
of john walker lindh.
and if that confession
could not be used at trial --
that was central
to trying him --
they would have no case.
i called tech support.
i'm like, "look,
is there any way
to get any of this stuff back?
it's really important."
she said that there was,
and we were able
to recover 14 e-mails
that had the substance
of what happened.
and i wrote a memo to my boss
and said,
"i don't know why
they weren't in the file."
and i made a copy of that memo
with the attachments
in case it "disappeared" again,
and i gave it to my boss.
and she said, "why weren't
these e-mails in the file?"
and it felt like
a rhetorical question.
and i said, "look, i don't know
what's going on here,
but this is not right
and you know it.
and i'm giving
my two weeks' notice.
i'm resigning."
i think people very high up
at justice
wanted to cover up the fact
that the ethics office
at the justice department
didn't want
to follow the rules
and were not
going to follow the rules
and were going to conceal this
from a court of law.
i could not live with myself
knowing that another human being
could be put to death
because i kept my mouth shut.
-michael isikoff is a newsweek
magazine investigative reporter.
-one morning, i heard
michael isikoff saying,
"well, the department says
john walker lindh
was never represented by counsel
and has never taken
that position."
and i picked up the phone
and i called him,
and i said, "you're wrong.
i don't know who's feeding you
this line of crap,
but it's completely wrong,
and i have the e-mails
to prove it."
and i went to a local kinkos,
and i faxed him the e-mails.
he said he would write
an article about it,
and he asked if i wanted
to be quoted in the article.
and i said, "wouldn't that be
a big red flag
pointing right at me?"
and he said, "yeah."
and i said, "well, then, no,
i don't want to be quoted."
a lot of whistle-blowers,
that's why they report
anonymously --
they don't want
to get in trouble for it.
but then, my e-mails
that i had sent to him
were published in full
on newsweek's website
with my name.
-i decided i had had enough.
the agency wasn't what it had
been before september 11th.
so, i resigned
and truly did not look back.
and then i got a job
with the senate
foreign relations committee.
and in that job, i got a call
once from a journalist.
he had developed information
that the cia was misusing
its formal agreement
with the state department
to provide cover
by putting people
who had been involved
in the torture program
so that their names couldn't
be exposed in the press.
so, i wrote a letter to the
agency asking for clarification.
something like
six weeks passed,
and finally, a colleague of mine
came in the office and said,
"uh, hey, you got a response
from the cia to your letter."
i said, "i haven't seen
any response."
he said, "well, they
classified it top secret sci" --
sensitive compartmented
information --
and i wasn't cleared
for top secret sci
in that senate job.
i said, "well, what'd
the letter say?"
he said, "the letter says
to go fuck yourself."
and so, i thought, "wow.
they're still mad."
and then my book came out,
and that [scoffs]
really made them mad.
-his new book is
"the reluctant spy:
my secret life
in the cia's war on terror."
why would you
keep doing the torture
if you got information
that you thought was --
-'cause i think people
were panicked at the time
and they just couldn't
bring themselves to stop
in case that information
came out.
in the case
of khalid sheikh mohammed
and the third prisoner
who was waterboarded, nashiri,
it turned out that
the information they provided
was not true.
they simply provided
what they thought
the interrogator wanted to hear
to stop
the waterboarding.
i have applied for every job
i can think of,
everything from grocery stores
to toys r us to starbucks.
you name it,
i've applied there.
haven't gotten
even an e-mail or a call back.
i'll be honest with you --
i really miss working,
and so, regardless
of what the job is,
i'm gonna be happy, i think,
just passing eight hours a day.
[ insects chirping ]
[ dog barking in distance ]
there were things
i said in that book
that really bothered them.
and i used a lot
of true names in the book, too,
people who weren't undercover.
[ engine turns over ]
i wanted to be
on the record
as saying that i thought
they were wrong.
this was
the wrong thing to do.
this is something that
the u.s. government and the cia
should not be involved in.
and a lot of people
at the cia disagree with me,
and i don't care.
not anymore.
i don't care.
[ air brake hisses ]
[ birds chirping ]
[ toy playing
"brahms' lullaby" ]
-when he's awake
inside the house,
you know,
it's almost an obsession.
[ music continues ]
-"ruby puts..."
-you know, he's always
on the computer,
he's always on the phone.
there's really no moment
of normalcy inside the house.
the kids know nothing
about what's going on.
and i try
and just protect them
and give john the space
to do what he needs to do.
he does put on, i think,
a really good, optimistic face,
but i know
it bothers him deep down.
-we're in the middle of what
are called cipa hearings,
stands for the classified
information procedures act.
we have identifies 100, maybe,
documents that are classified
that we believe are critical
to my ability to defend myself.
-ultimately, in this case,
judge brinkema
makes a determination
as to what will actually
be admissible and relevant
at trial
before a jury of his peers.
so, it's a critical phase.
-the judge is gonna come down
on one side or the other
or maybe
somewhere in the middle.
so, i'm serious when i say
i've read every one of these
and i can't defend myself
without them.
in the very beginning,
it would not be untruthful
to say that i felt suicidal.
i gave serious thought one day
to jumping in front
of a subway train.
that's how --
that's how...
how depressed i was
and how hopeless i felt.
-in my very first meeting
with my attorneys,
they told me that
if i took a plea,
my bill would probably be
somewhere in the $50,000
to $100,000 range.
but they said,
"if you elect to go to trial,
we're talking about a bill
that's gonna be
closer to $500,000."
so, here we are,
my bill is already $1 million,
and if we go
all the way through trial,
they told me to expect it now
to be as much as $2 million.
i can't pay
that kind of money.
yeah, we don't
need that anymore.
i don't know how i'll ever
have that kind of money
to pay that bill.
[ baby giggles ]
-i knew that the white house
and hayden
had placed themselves
above the law,
and instead of choosing
to follow the constitution,
they had chosen
to not follow the constitution,
that they were now in violation
of the oath that they took
to support and defend
and, for the president,
to also protect.
i blew every whistle
there was internally.
early 2002,
i am a witness for this 9/11
congressional investigation.
i gave them incredibly
classified information
that was given to me.
and what's important
to understand is,
not only did i share everything
i knew about thinthread,
i also was given information
during this time period,
information that nsa had,
information that if it
had been shared
with the proper authorities,
what is called
national command authorities,
could have stopped 9/11.
i shared all that
with the committee.
prima facie, al qaeda and
associative movement information
that would have gone a long ways
to rolling up the plot.
it was in the database.
it was there.
no one knew it was there
because the systems
they had in place were abysmal.
nsa had abysmally failed
the nation.
now, i was charged
with putting together
the statement for the record
to find out
everything we could
about what nsa knew,
should have known,
or could have known
prior to 9/11.
and i was given
some extraordinary information
as a result of that --
the team.
[ inhales deeply ]
that information was put into
the statement for the record --
the draft.
and then, while i was in england
on another assignment,
got this frantic
phone call saying,
"tom, we've been taken
off the effort."
i said, "why?"
"when you come back,
you'll have to find out."
[ big ben tolls ]
they did not want to tell
the truth to congress.
so, as soon as i got back,
i was pulled aside,
and in no uncertain terms,
i was told, "be careful.
they're looking for leakers."
this was not leakers
to the press.
they were looking
for leakers
to the congressional
9/11 investigations.
-they're coming down.
-they're in violation
of fisa.
they're in violation
of the fourth amendment.
they're now engaged
in an active coverup
at the highest levels.
i knew that i had been tagged
as someone who was a threat
to their ability
to keep from congress
what they knew
about 9/11.
and, in fact, there was
an edict that went out
from the highest levels of nsa,
through the deputy director,
to bury all the critical truth
about what nsa
actually knew about 9/11
and never let any investigator
ever get their hands on it,
so, you know,
here i am, seeing all this,
the massive fraud,
waste, and abuse.
i had blown all the whistles
i knew per statute,
followed that all to the t.
nothing had happened.
it was clearly,
congress, institutionally,
had become complicit.
the primacy
of national security
was now trumping
the constitution.
and so, i made a fateful
decision in february of 2006
to make contact anonymously
with a reporter,
detailing with her
over a series of mailings --
and i was doing so
in an encrypted fashion --
for a period of a year.
an article
was written by her
in which, for the first time
as public reveal,
the existence
of a legal alternative
to the secret program
called thinthread.
the set of people that knew
about the secret program,
whether they were read into
or not, was very, very small.
they began to target anybody
associated with the program,
even if they were
i had been told
by very well-placed sources
that cheney personally said
to the department of justice,
"find and fry the leakers.
whoever -- i don't care.
make an example of them.
burn them."
so, i get a phone call from
a former colleague, kirk wiebe,
saying, "tom, we need to meet."
and we met,
and he proceeded to tell me
that we had just
been raided by the fbi.
and i knew, sitting there
in that tavern, i was next
because they were
asking them about me.
i was now clearly
the primary target.
somehow, i had become --
i was considered the ringleader,
that somehow
i was now the source.
it was just
a matter of time.
it was not if.
it was when.
i had already been put under
electronic surveillance.
i was also physically tailed,
physically surveilled.
it was not unusual at all
to see two unmarked cars
at the end of the street.
so, the morning
of 28 november, 2007,
i'm getting ready
to go to work.
it's just after 7:00.
i'm about to get into my car.
[ vehicle approaches ]
[ vehicle door opens ]
[ radio chatter ]
and there's this very,
very loud knock on the door.
[ pounding on door ]
spouse was there.
she was about to take our son,
zachary, to middle school.
i mean, i sit here right now --
the look on her face.
[ radio chatter ]
they served me
with a warrant.
but i did cooperate with them.
that was for like
eight and a half, nine hours.
and they're asking questions,
and they had
one of the fbi agents
just simply taking notes.
your miranda rights
are read to you
'cause they said, "anything
you say will and can be
used against you." ultimately was.
so, every room had, like,
a number in it
just kind of hanging.
and they began
to go through everything.
it was clear that they
were looking for headers
or anything that showed, you
know, classification stamps.
and they actually
removed several books
that were actually listed
on the warrant.
that included james risen's
"state of war" book.
that, they actually --
that became evidence.
words and phrases,
and those words and phrases
would have included
"the secret program"
that i had disclosed to
the congressional investigators.
my understanding is, sometimes,
they will catalogue things
and they will actually,
they'll --
but they didn't do that.
i mean, they just
had stuff everywhere.
'cause this is --
it's so odd.
every single drawer...
...and cabinet.
they were down here
looking at the pots and pans.
reaching behind here,
they were underneath the sink.
seeing your entire life
and sort of the daily things
that you have in your life
and the things you touch,
and now they're being
touched by, you know, fbi agents
because you're up to no good
and they're inside
all of your cabinets and --
yeah, there's a distinct --
more than just a passing feeling
of being violated.
all these questions --
"are you gonna end up
indicting me?
what charges will they file?
what else will happen to me?"
i was separated
not long after this
and ended up having
to move out of the house...
and did so in january of 2008
and was living...
was living north of here
for almost the next year.
yeah, that's part of the price
you pay's...
that evening, i got a phone call
to report to nsa,
the special h.r. department,
and they suspended
my clearance.
i had to turn my badge in,
they suspended my clearance,
put me on administrative leave.
-they ended up charging me
with three counts of espionage,
and it turned out that they
had been investigating me
since the abc news interview
in 2007.
they've had it out for me
since december of 2007,
in part because of
the official work i was doing
as a senior staff member
of a congressional oversight
and they're trying
to make it look as though
i provided classified
information to the press.
-i worry very much
about john's well-being --
not just on
a professional level,
on a personal level,
on a human level.
it's hard
for any single individual,
no matter how strong you are,
to deal with this and come out
on the other side of it intact.
-when we were in
our last hearing,
called the cipa hearing,
the government asked
for what they call
a rule four conversation.
i had never heard of this.
but rule four,
wherever this is written,
allows the government
to have an in-camera
conversation with the judge,
meaning they get
a private conversation
about the case with the judge
without the defense attorneys
or the defendant being present,
and we don't have
the right to know
what that conversation
is about.
so, they had one of these
rule four conversations.
the next thing i knew,
the judge came out
and ruled against us
on all of our motions.
so, where we thought
we were gonna have
this declassified information
with which
i could defend myself,
at the end of the day,
we ended up with nothing.
-there are pleas out there
that would be fine.
i would bless a plea
for one year of jail
to a "making false statement"
that's a tack-on charge that
they put on every indictment.
it's very different
to plead guilty
to an intelligence identity
protection act charge
and be the second person
in the entire country
who's ever plead guilty to that.
-my defense attorneys claim
that they reached out
to the prosecution unofficially,
just to see if there was
any room for negotiation.
and so, within 24 hours,
we had this offer on the table.
-for people who are facing
such life-altering decisions,
they deserve the straight dope
on what's going on.
-we are going to virginia.
i'm looking for the address,
which i have here.
-one of the lawyers,
the one that i like and respect
the most,
leaned over and said,
"if you were my brother,
i would tell you
to take the deal.
you're not gonna get
a better deal.
and if you don't take it,
you're gonna risk
spending most of the rest
of your life in prison."
-i feel like we're about
to stage an intervention,
which is really pathetic
that it's come to this.
but he e-mailed one of
the criminal defense attorneys
that, you know,
"i'm having second thoughts
about saying
i'd take the plea last night."
i told him,
"unless you convey that
to the lead attorneys,
they can go into this hearing
in exactly one hour from now
and say, "judge brinkema,
no need to have the hearing.
our guy has decided
to plead guilty."
-i thought about it
all weekend.
i changed my mind
several times.
and then, we had a hard deadline
of 5:00 yesterday afternoon.
finally, at 6:00,
they called me and said,
"it's time to fish
or cut bait."
i have two choices right now,
it seems to me.
one is to fire them
and find somebody else,
and the other
is to take this deal.
-they said that they will mount
the most vigorous defense
in court that they can,
but they believe that i'll
lose and i'll get 6 to 12 years.
i feel like they've
come to the conclusion
that it doesn't matter
that there are different layers
of cover
because nobody's gonna care,
and so i violated it.
-okay, well, let me
tell you why it matters,
because this is why they want
you to bargain on this count.
they know
that they are weak.
they know that iipa
is written so narrowly
that it's virtually
impossible to prove.
-we talked about this
all night long.
that's why i come home,
i take the kids to school,
i come back, and i sleep
on the couch for an hour,
'cause i've been up
all night long.
she doesn't make enough money
to support our household.
we can borrow enough
for two years to keep her going,
probably without
filing for bankruptcy,
but if i were to be found guilty
and got more than two years,
i mean...
we think we're ruined now,
we'd be ruined permanently
after that.
-and i'm missing two, but...
-tom drake thinks
i should fight it,
and, you know, in my gut,
i want to fight it.
but i have kids,
and i just can't risk...
...them losing me
for 6 to 12 years.
-good afternoon.
i just have a brief statement.
john kiriakou
is a loyal american
who loves his country deeply.
he served for many years
in the cia
as an agent in challenging
and often dangerous assignments.
and nothing that happened today
and this plea does not diminish
in any way
the value of his service
to the country
or the contributions he made
to the security of our nation.
-mr. kiriakou, are you at least
happy that it's resolved?
i'm persona non grata
within the government
if you don't have
a security clearance.
and so, i'm unemployed.
so, i did look for work.
i spent a lot of time
looking for work.
i applied for a part-time
position with apple,
and several months later,
i actually got a phone call.
you know, i ended up working
at an apple store
in the greater d.c. area
as an expert.
-a number of retaliatory steps
were taken.
i was made the target
of a federal criminal leak
i was referred by the justice
department to the state bars,
in which i'm licensed
as an attorney.
it is a big deal
if you're referred to the bar.
you could lose
your license to practice law.
they referred me
based on a secret report
to which i did not have access.
a justice department
called my new law firm,
a private law firm
where i worked,
and told them that they
had just hired a criminal,
that i was going
to steal attorney/client files,
and that they should
really think about firing me.
so, they put me
on administrative leave,
which was paid, briefly,
and then suddenly,
they stopped paying me.
so, i applied for unemployment.
[ cellphone rings ]
soon afterwards,
the investigator called me
and started asking questions
about the newsweek article.
he grew very antagonistic.
he said, "did you ever send
e-mails to michael isikoff?"
and he's like,
"if you don't tell me,
we're gonna search
your computer."
and i'm like,
"well, you know what?
i have to go.
i'll call you back later."
and instead,
i called a lawyer.
i mean, i was devastated.
i had lost my dream job
and what i wanted to do.
i was incredibly anxious
'cause i felt like
i was now under attack
and under investigation.
i also
have multiple sclerosis,
which is a neurological disease
exacerbated by stress.
-part of the purpose of doing
what they've been doing
for the last several years
is to destroy you.
-prosecutors charged him with...
-the stress is hard to describe.
they leak information,
for example, to the press
that puts you
in the worst possible light.
-the justice department called
me a traitor and a turncoat
in the new york times.
-you're not loyal,
you're not a good american,
you're a terrorist sympathizer.
-10 felony charges filed
against a former executive...
-it was at the top of the news
at 6:00,
it was at the top of the news
at 11:00 locally,
and it was at the top
of the news the next morning.
-coworkers would not talk to me,
and a few of them said,
"do not call me at work."
-"you've betrayed your country.
where there's smoke,
there's fire.
you did something.
why would the government
raid your house?
why would they do that?"
-i was caught up in this
kafkaesque nightmare.
-i have to try
to protect my children
from being exposed to it.
i've got the fbi surveilling me
on and off
for the last seven months.
they followed us
grocery shopping.
they followed me into church
on sunday morning
and sent fbi agents
to sit behind me in church
and watch me.
i had neighbors
calling me, saying,
"you know, there's a car
at the end of the block,
and the guy's looking
at your house with binoculars."
one woman who was parked
and just watching my children,
and i went up to her van
and i knocked on the window
and i said,
"what do you want?"
and she kind of
got nervous
and put the car in gear
and took off.
-i was trying to be honest.
i was trying
to do things by the book.
and yet, i'm the one who ends up
having to hire
a team of lawyers.
-you have to mortgage
your house.
you have to empty
your bank account.
i went from making
well over $150,000 a year
to a quarter of that.
-the groups that i thought
would want to get involved
in helping me,
like the aclu, did not.
so, i was paying
for private counsel on my own.
-the cost alone, financially --
never mind the personal cost --
is approaching $1 million
in terms of lost income,
expenses, and other costs
that i incur.
-i was told
that i was blacklisted.
-my wife resigned
because the agency
threatened her
with a security investigation.
and so, both of us
have been out of work
for seven months, at this point.
it's surreal, is the word.
a couple of weeks ago, my wife
and i had this conversation --
it was on a sunday night,
and she said,
"we can't afford food
for the next week."
and she said, "i don't know
what we're gonna do."
so, very reluctantly, we went
to the county welfare office.
we explained our situation.
and they said, "yeah, you guys
qualify for everything --
food stamps, medicaid,
cash payments, job training.
-the pregnancy, in a way,
kept me really grounded,
like the kids did...
because i knew there was
something so much larger
than all this crap
that was going on.
and it was something
i could focus on protecting.
and somehow,
by protecting the baby,
i could protect myself
in some kind of way.
i had work.
i was still -- i had gone
into hawkins delafield & wood,
the law firm where i worked.
and my boss told me, he's like,
"you should know
that the managing partner
in new york and agent powell
are walking around
the office right now,
and agent powell had said,
'something really big
is gonna happen.'
it sounds like you're
gonna be arrested tonight."
and so, i was just...
so scared by that.
and nighttime,
it was the worst time for me.
that's when i always
kind of had my night demons.
you know, i'm imagining
doing the perp walk
in front of
all the neighborhood moms
and, you know, having to go
in the police car and be booked.
all of this stuff would
really, like, be in my mind,
and i couldn't turn it off.
and, you know,
i just woke up the next morning,
and my night gown was just --
was totally
just blood everywhere.
and i just...
[ voice breaking ]
i just knew that...
i knew i wasn't
pregnant anymore.
-you know, sometimes,
if i'm driving around the area
and there's
an orthodox church,
if i notice some cars
in the parking lot,
i go over to church,
sit through the service,
light a candle,
and go on my way.
i take strength in that.
it comforts me.
one thing
that's very important to me
is the personal story
of a 20th century saint
in the orthodox church,
saint nectarios.
saint nectarios
went through his entire life
trying to correct
or rebut lies
that had been told about him by
people who coveted his office.
he was personally ruined
by these rumors.
he was stripped of his position,
he was demoted.
he lost everything.
and he never --
he never accused anyone.
he forgave them,
and he moved on with his life.
-the only place left,
the only other check on
the secret side of government,
the only other place
to begin to articulate
what was really at stake,
both for me personally
as an american --
but what were the larger stakes
for america
was the court of public opinion.
and the person that led
that effort was jesselyn radack.
-i read about tom's case
in the newspaper,
and i was immediately alarmed.
clearly, a line had been crossed
because as unmercifully
as the bush administration
treated me,
at least i was never prosecuted.
and here, they were going
to prosecute someone.
i stayed up that night.
i started an op-ed
about the difference between
leaking and whistle-blowing.
and i submitted it,
and, luckily,
the los angeles times
published it.
i often will write
about something
and put it out there
almost as a beacon...
...for someone to grasp on to.
-she not only got
who i was as a whistle-blower.
she realized what was at stake
because she, herself,
had experienced what it meant
to be on the receiving end
of a government
who wanted to punish her
for simply standing up
and telling the truth.
-i needed to do
an educational campaign.
i needed to do a whistle-blower
reprisal complaint
because he had gone
through proper channels
and complained to
the inspector general.
and this was
the ultimate retaliation.
they sold him down the river
and gave his name to the
justice department to prosecute.
we had an article
by jane mayer of the new yorker,
who did an in-depth,
long-form investigative
journalistic piece.
-the government says
he betrayed his country.
-and that was followed
the next week
by a "60 minutes" piece.
and then,
there were editorials
by the l.a. times
and the washington post,
saying that tom drake
is a whistle-blower
and it's ridiculous to be using
the espionage act against him.
that media was, i think,
a saving grace.
-federal prosecutors today
dropped nearly all of the
charges against thomas drake.
the former
u.s. intelligence official,
who walked out of
the baltimore courthouse today
had been charged
under the espionage act
with mishandling
sensitive information.
it's a high-profile failure
for the justice department,
which is cracking down
on government leaks.
-you know,
i'm not sure anymore exactly
who the good guys are.
so much has changed since
september 11th in our country
that what a decade ago
would have been insanity
in terms of policy
is now the norm.
and it's as though if you
don't buy into the policy,
you're an enemy.
-there's batman, eats a hot dog,
and this hot dog eats batman.
-is that the one that
cookie monster eats a cookie?
-this past weekend, news came
out of general petraeus' affair.
more news followed
that his alleged girlfriend
may have had classified
information on her computer.
and then the fbi
issues a statement
saying that it's not
a criminal investigation.
well, just a week ago, they
charged a translator in bahrain
with two counts of espionage
for sending
a classified document
to stanford university's
uh, if this woman had classified
information on her computer,
she obviously had to have
gotten it from petraeus.
well, why aren't they
being charged with espionage?
let's see what i have here.
glasses 'cause i'm blind.
in this case, it looks like
if you're a general
and you're buddies
with the president
or if you're the girlfriend
of the general,
you're gonna get a pass.
-[ babbles ]
-if you're a nobody,
you're gonna go to jail
on something,
whether it's an espionage act
or some reduced penalty.
you're gonna go to jail.
-good to see you again.
thanks for the speech.
-you don't have another one,
do you?
-[ speaks indistinctly ]
-it was okay.
there was one line
where it said,
like, something like,
"this has been immensely hard
on my kids..."
-yes. my family.
-i forgot to add in,
"and my wife."
"see my kids..."
-"...grow up."
-23rd annual joe a. callaway
award for civic courage
is hereby presented
to john kiriakou,
anti-torture advocate
on the ramparts,
in recognition of his stand
against using torture
to extract information
from government prisoners,
his public disclosure
that torture,
including waterboarding,
is official policy,
not a rogue event,
as the government claims,
his leadership
as the first cia officer
to confirm and then condemn
this illegal torture policy.
[ applause ]
-there's a rumor
that they might just shackle me
and take me away tomorrow.
so, i'm gonna take off
my crucifix and my wedding ring
before i leave
for the courthouse.
i don't know.
send me to some pri--
yeah, send me to
some prison someplace.
don't worry.
no. don't be.
don't be.
-when we first told the kids
that i was gonna have to leave
for a couple of years,
max took it hard.
he cried a lot.
you want this blanket?
-i'll tell you
why i'm going to sleep.
'cause my hand feels all stiff
when i move it.
he was upset that i was not
gonna be around
for his birthday.
-i actually might
go to sleep.
-i'm gonna miss
his first communion.
cold today.
19 degrees.
good morning.
-they don't want me
to give a statement.
i said, "i just want
to thank people."
so, i'm gonna thank people.
-today's sentence
should be a reminder
to every individual
who works for the government
who comes into
the possession
of closely held,
sensitive information
the national defense
or the identity
of a covert agent,
that it is critical that
that information remain secure.
-john is the only cia agent
who will be going to prison with
respect to the torture program,
and he didn't torture anybody.
he is also the only cia agent
going to prison for leaking
something to the press,
when we've had numerous
top-level disclosures
of classified information,
including sources and methods
to hollywood
for the production
of the movie "zero dark thirty,"
and no one seems to have
a problem with that.
-this morning, i was sentenced
to 30 months in prison
for a crime to which
i had pleaded guilty.
i want to say
that i come out of court
positive, confident,
and optimistic.
i would like to thank several...
-[ giggles ]
i have an audience of one,
and it's barack obama.
we're at the point now
where this is between
barack obama and me.
he's the only person
who can help me,
if he's so inclined,
and i have to try
to reach him today.
-not in 2004, not in 2000,
jeb was talking
about this in 1997.
-[ laughs ]
-stand by.
-coming up,
the first cia officer
ever sentenced for leaking
classified information.
why does he consider that
to be a badge of honor?
and rare treasures
from president kennedy
in our studio before
they hit the auction block.
-we want to start this half hour
with the former cia officer
sentenced to 30 months
behind bars,
the first
to ever be sent to jail
for leaking classified secrets.
we're gonna talk to him
exclusively in a moment.
but first, with the backstory,
here's nbc's andrea mitchell.
-more one and three.
-interview larry, please.
-...after turning up
in a defense motion
for guantanamo detainees.
-that led the investigators
to mr. kiriakou,
who then admitted
in court under oath
that he knowingly,
outed the identity
of his covert agent.
-kiriakou has portrayed himself
as a whistle-blower
for disclosing
the bush administration's
waterboarding campaigns.
-and john kiriakou
is with us exclusively.
john, good morning.
it's good to see you.
-good morning.
thanks for having me.
-depending on who you are, you
look at this case differently.
some people say you've betrayed
your former colleagues
in order to raise
your media profile,
hoping to sell books
and to get
a consulting business going.
others say you were
a whistle-blower.
you spoke out, and now
you're being wrongly prosecuted.
you say you wear this conviction
like a badge of honor.
-i do.
i wear this conviction
as a badge of honor
because this conviction
is not about leaking.
this case was about torture
from the very beginning.
-let me just
stop you right there
because you acknowledged,
you pleaded guilty,
and you admitted that
you identified a cia officer
who was, in fact, covert.
that is against the law.
-you don't disagree with that.
and i should never
have done that.
that was a terrible mistake.
-in fact, in 2007,
you told msnbc
you were coming forward then
because you thought
that the agency had gotten
"a bum rap on waterboarding."
that's somebody
who's defending these practices,
not denouncing them.
-i was relying on what the cia
had told cia officers
inside the building,
that these methods
were effective.
that turned out to be a lie.
-and you've admitted not just
to the leaking of the one name,
but you also acknowledge
giving classified information
to yet a second reporter.
did you ask these journalists,
"hey, what are you gonna do
with this information?"
-well, let me correct you
on one thing.
the reporter came to me
with a name
and said, "can you talk to me
about this?"
-i think specifically
the charges said
that you disclosed
the connection of that officer
to a classified operation.
and yet, in a recorded fbi
interview a year ago,
you said you knew that
this officer was always...
one final thing --
you disclosed the name of
this officer to this journalist.
the journalist in turn passed it
to a defense investigator.
a picture of this officer
ended up in the jail cell
of a terror suspect.
how do you feel about that?
-stay there.
-stay right there? okay.
-thank you. take care.
-thank you so much
for taking the time.
-bye, mr. kiriakou.
-wonderful job.
-you don't think
i helped myself?
[ car door closes ]
i'll just keep my fingers
crossed, see what happens.
[ clippers buzzing ]
[ indistinct conversations ]
-we've never used the word
"prison" with the children.
we told them that,
"you know i've been involved
with this fight with the fbi
for the last year."
and i said,
"unfortunately, i lost.
and so, because i lost,
i'm gonna have to go
to pennsylvania for two years
to teach bad guys how to get
their high-school diplomas.
and when i finish that
contract, i'm gonna come home,
we're gonna be together again
as a family,
and everything
is gonna be back to normal."
how were your days
at school?
-it was good.
so, guys,
this is the last time
i'm gonna pick you up
from school for awhile.
i my wish daddy
was with me all the time.
-you guys will have
a good vacation.
-yeah, but you're
not gonna be with us.
-[ sighs ]
i wish you won.
i wish you won.
-what, honey?
-i wish you won.
-i wish i won, too.
hey, max?
-you want to play
in the backyard?
you have a jacket?
i'm hoping the actual day
of my departure
is gonna be as normal a day
for the kids as possible.
-i think most of these
match the blue part of the sky.
-i don't want the kids to be
disrupted in any way that day.
[ chuckling ] oh!
i don't want there to be
lots of tears and, you know,
"oh, my god, what are we gonna
do for the next two years?"
i don't want any of that.
i want them to think,
"okay. dad's gonna go.
he's gonna work.
and we'll see him
on the weekends,
and everything's
gonna be okay."
[ branches snapping ]
-i got it!
i got it!
-daddy, now can you help?
-are you okay?
-it really hurts.
-where did it hurt you?
-[ crying ]
-aw. let me see.
-[ sobs loudly ]
you gave it
a little scrape, honey.
-no, right here!
-okay? yeah.
just a little scrape.
man, i'm tired.
how are you?
-how are you?
-oh, i'm all right.
-hmm. "there he doesn't look
like he's telling the truth.
you never get to do anything.
hey, i've got an idea.
let's play drive the bus.
i'll go first."
-[ smooches ]
-don't throw it.
so, just call me
or send me a text,
and then
i'll have your number.
-i think it's gonna take
a long time
before people realize
what a mistake we made
with this torture program.
i think it's gonna be 20, 30,
40 years before people say,
"we tortured people
in this country?
what were we thinking?"
-i have great fears for
the future of the republic
because if the trend line
the national security regime,
a secrecy regime,
cannot coexist with
a constitutional democracy.
something has to give.
-"only 10 people
in american history
have been charged
with espionage
for leaking
classified information,
seven of them
under barack obama.
the effect of the charge
on a person's life,
being viewed as a traitor,
being shunned
by family and friends,
incurring massive legal bills,
is all a part of the plan
of forcing the whistle-blower
into personal ruin
to weaken him to the point
where he will plead guilty
to just about anything
to make the case go away.
i know.
the three espionage charges
against me
made me one of the obama seven."
[ car door closes ]
-i think the government's going
to launch an investigation.
i think they're going to say
i've committed grave crimes,
i've, you know,
violated the espionage act.
they're gonna say, you know,
i've aided our enemies.
-a disclosure of this kind,
of highly classified material,
gives our terrorist enemies
a playbook
for our activities
designed to thwart them.
-the longer
the snowden saga drags on,
so do the questions
about the surveillance programs.
i don't think
anything about this
is something the white house
wants to deal with.
-the government is desperate
to not deal with the actual
content of those disclosures.
-why is the government
spying on its own people?
-our concern is that they
have grabbed these phone calls
and grabbed these e-mails
and have the temptation
to listen to them and read them
whether they have
the authority to or not.
-the u.s. government
has routinely violated
the constitutional protections
afforded its own citizens
while disregarding the internal
integrity of other states
and the fundamental rights
of non-u.s. citizens.
-"some of the investigations
began during
the bush administration,
as was the case with
nsa whistle-blower tom drake.
but espionage act cases
have been prosecuted
only under obama."
you know, he's my only client
in jail for this right now,
and he completely
doesn't belong there.
and he completely gets
how politicized this is.
[ voice breaking ]
and, for me, as an attorney,
i know i did
all i could for him,
but on a personal level,
it feels like a failure.
i feel...
l-like i could have --
there's something
i could have done more.
in our history,
it's been whistle-blowers
who have made the difference,
it's been whistle-blowers
who have caused
these major, cataclysmic changes
in our society.
and i think freedom
can win out over fear.
[ dramatic music playing ]
[ up-tempo music playing ]