At Firedoglake’s Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola describes an escalating pattern of retaliation by prison officials against CIA whistleblower John Kirakou. If you’re interested in helping Kevin out, you can visit DefendJohnK.com for more information on how you can do that.
The federal correctional institution of Loretto, Pennsylvania, where former CIA officer John Kiriakou is serving a thirty-month jail sentence, appears to be scrambling to find any way they can to stop him from sending letters from prison. He has written another letter that details what seem to be clear acts of retaliation.
Since August of last year, Firedoglake has been publishing “Letters from Loretto,” by Kiriakou, an imprisoned whistleblower who was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration. He was convicted in October 2012 after he pled guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter. He was sentenced in January 2013, and reported to prison on February 28, 2013.
Firedoglake has been publishing Kiriakou’s “Letters from Loretto” since the summer of last year. In fact, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) considers copies of Kiriakou’s letters to be a danger to the Loretto prison: a threat to the “security, good order or discipline of the institution” or “to the protection of the public” or a document that “might facilitate criminal activity.”
In Kiriakou’s most recent letter from prison, written on February 10, he reports a threat allegedly made by a “senior prison official,” who told him months ago that officials have discussed putting him in “diesel therapy” for the rest of his sentence.
“Diesel therapy is when a prisoner is transferred from one prison to another all across the country via prison van, bus or “conair” plane, never staying in any one prison long enough to receive telephone, email, mailing or visitation privileges,” Kiriakou explains. “I could move to a different prison every week for the rest of my sentence and still not hit them all.”
His family and attorneys would not know his location. It “would obviously be retaliation for “Letters from Loretto” and my press interviews,” he suggests. But the BOP could claim he was moved because of “bedspace” issues or for his own “safety.”
Kiriakou also shares how cops tore up his “room” twice after he did an interview with reporters from The National Herald, “the oldest, largest and most highly-respected Greek-American newspaper in the country.” It was his first press interview since pledging to quit talking to media and sending prison letters if he was granted at least nine months of halfway house time. (The prison broke its promise and is only granting him five to six months halfway house time.)
“Three hours after the interview ended, I was sitting in the TV room with my friend, former colleague and cellmate “Dave,” when another prisoner approached us and said, ‘Guys, the cops are tearing up your room,’” Kiriakou recalls. “We walked back to our room and, sure enough, two corrections officers (CO) were going through all of our possessions. I thought it was an odd coincidence, but I just shrugged. I didn’t have any contraband so I lost nothing.”
The next night it happened again. This time Kiriakou and Dave could not get back to their housing unit because a “gate at the head of the hall was locked.” When he finally did see the damage done, his locker door had been left wide open, photos of his children were thrown on the floor, his mail was “strewn all over” his bed and his books were tossed on a chair.
Up until the interview, he had only been shaken down three times. Now it had happened twice in two days.
Kiriakou complained to a CO that this was “disrespectful.” The CO said, “Sorry,” and, “We were just following orders.” The shakedown led to his cellmates losing some of their property.
“One of my cellmates, a 40-ish African-American whom I like, respect and consider a friend, made an important point,” according to Kirakou. “‘Don’t you see what they’re doing? They’re trying to make us mad with these shakedowns so that we’ll turn on you.’ He imagined a conversation: ‘Let’s piss off the big black guy so he pressures Kiriakou to stop writing and doing interviews.’”
It did not work that time. “My cellmate urged me to ‘keep up the fight. Keep telling people what it’s like in here.’ I promise to do that.”
Read more here.