John Kiriakou (Flickr Photo: Troy Page / t r u t h o u t)

A former government official has come forward to tell Firedoglake that the government is prosecuting whistleblower John Kiriakou on the charge of revealing an identity of a “covert CIA officer”  because the CIA was “totally ticked at Kiriakou for acknowledging the use of torture as state policy.”

According to the official, the “covert CIA officer” — referred to in the indictment as Official A — was “responsible for ensuring the execution” of the worldwide Retention, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program.

The official alleges that Official A traveled between black prison sites in the world and monitored, managed and even allegedly engaged in torture himself.

The official described how the CIA hopes the government is able to “make an example of him” [Kiriakou]. They don’t want him to become a Philip Agee, the former CIA agent who wrote the book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, and was a leading opponent of CIA practices.

Ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou blew the whistle on torture authorized by the administration of President George W. Bush, and is accused of leaking classified information to journalists on the identity of a “covert CIA officer” and details on the the role of “another CIA employee in classified activities.” In recent weeks, Kiriakou’s defense has sought classified data on Abu Zubaydah. He has also sought to depose journalists, who are referenced in his indictment.

Last week, Firedoglake covered revelations that the three journalists being subpoenaed for testimony by Kiriakou’s defense were the following: Matthew Cole (Journalist A), Scott Shane of the New York Times (Journalist B) and Julie Tate of the Washington Post (Researcher 1). It had well known that Cole and Shane were involved, however, Tate’s name had not yet surfaced.

Following the post on Kiriakou’s subpoenaing of journalists, the official came forward to share new and revealing information on the case with Firedoglake. The source requested and was granted anonymity in order to protect them from  government retaliation. The individual’s former position gave them direct access to this information.

Kiriakou’s “future hangs in the balance,” says the source.  While the government has sought to limit and curtail investigations and prosecutions of torture, they would like to successfully prosecute and convict Kiriakou, particularly on the charge of revealing an identity of a “covert CIA officer.”

In the indictment, “Officer A” has been believed to be unknown up to this point. However, the former government official shared details on the agent and said the agent is allegedly sixty years old and has “retired” from “active service.”

The identity of this individual is “not so secret.” In fact, as the former government official informed Firedoglake, at least ten individuals in the human rights community have known of this key CIA official for years.

These individuals in the human rights community have known that the agent allegedly ensured detainees were “properly rendered and tortured,” according to the source, who alleges they have known he took part in “sadistic acts of horrendous conduct against the detainees” and have engaged in what appears to be a “code of silence” protecting the individual while the Justice Department prosecutes Kiriakou.

This information fits in to what is already known. Kiriakou’s indictment describes “Covert Officer A” as “a covert CIA employee whose association with the CIA has been classified for more than two decades.” Also, court documents list “Covert Officer A” as someone who Kiriakou allegedly disclosed was associated with the RDI program and a particular RDI operation.

Melvin Goodman, who spent 42 years with the CIA, the National War College, and the US Army, wrote in November 2009 about the larger context in which this also fits. When President Barack Obama took office, he was not willing to take a strong leadership role in addressing the problems of the CIA. “The culture of cover-up continued,” said the source.

Both Steve Kappes and Mike Sulick, who “were deeply involved” in the RDI program, managed agency policies. They had an “interest in protecting themselves and their colleagues,” according to the source.   The White House and Senate Intelligence Committee “abandoned the need for international oversight of the CIA by not pursuing a statutory inspector general to replace John Helgerson,” who had announced his retirement nine months ago and been the only individual to authoritatively assess the RDI program,  effectively undermined federal law that established an IG twenty years ago.

Upon Obama’s election, CIA director Michael Hayden tried to save the RDI program. Hayden, according to James Mann, had demonstrated interrogation techniques for Obama in Chicago with the hope that they would continue while he was president. The CIA challenged the Obama administration to not change American policy and to maintain an existing order. It did not preserve certain interrogation techniques but was able to preserve rendition and indefinite detention.

The pressure is on for Kiriakou. The journalists subpoenaed will try and likely succeed in quashing defense subpoenas for testimony in court on October 18. The defense will continue to struggle as it is bound by an October 2 ruling that prohibits the defense from making arguments Kiriakou had no “intent to harm” in open court.

It is an extremely sensitive case involving classified information and covert agents in a court of law that is under an immense amount of pressure to be deferential to so-called national security interests. It is unlikely a judge would ever force the government to produce the information Kiriakou has asked for in discovery, especially if it is secondary to the alleged disclosure of an agent’s identity.

If a plea deal has been offered to Kiriakou for any short amount of time in jail — shorter than if he was convicted on the various counts charged — there would likely be pressure on him to accept the plea deal whether he is innocent or not.

Nonetheless, there has not been a single prosecution for CIA interrogation. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department have come through for the CIA by refusing to pursue charges against agents who engaged in “brutal interrogations.”

The identity of “Covert Officer A,” which Kiriakou is alleged to have revealed, was a prime torturer in the agency. He allegedly abused and saw to it that detainees were abused. On the other hand, Kiriakou’s “crime” is that he went on television and told the country waterboarding was indeed torture at a moment when the Bush administration did not want that to be part of public discussion. For that, the CIA is counting on the Justice Department to, at minimum, convict Kiriakou on the charge of leaking an agent’s identity to not only send a message to other agents but also to continue to protect one of their own.