On Sunday, New York Times journalist Scott Shane published a feature story on the Justice Department’s prosecution of John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer convicted of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) by revealing the name of an undercover officer. It was the first successful conviction of someone for a disclosure since President Barack Obama was elected president.
Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower who the Obama administration tried to prosecute for a “leak” until the case collapsed, joined me for a conversation about the parallels between his prosecution and Kiriakou’s prosecution.
“I’ve said publicly that John Kiriakou was the new Tom Drake, that the similarities between this case and mine were uncannily similar particularly in terms of how the government approached it,” Drake declares.
Drake goes through a description of how he found out he was a government target. He highlights how the government launched an investigation into who may have been the sources for a Times article by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen on President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. Because “the universe of people who knew about the secret surveillance program” was quite small being managed by the highest levels of government, he was caught up in the investigation to protect details on the program from being further disclosed.
Kiriakou acknowledged waterboarding by the CIA was torture in an ABC News interview. Similarly, Drake had communications with a reporter at the Baltimore Sun and informed this reporter of what he was seeing inside the NSA and how the government was committing constitutional violations.
Drake suggests they went through many attempts to find a way to indict him and make an example out of him. This he adds is what he believes the government did with Kiriakou.
In Part 2, Drake talks about what happens as the government is prosecuting you. He says the world keeps getting smaller and smaller as the noose starts to tighten and you become “the center point of their wrath.” They are going to use the justice system and abuse it to make sure you pay a very high price. This creates the “uncertainty of what are they actually going to do.
In Drake’s case, there was a secret indictment, but that was not what they used to actually indict me. Another prosecutor, William Welch, came in under Obama and put forward the indictment offered publicly. The government tried to coerce Drake into pleading to charges before trial or else face decades in jail. This happened with Kiriakou too. They spent a number of years trying to indict him for what he had done.
Both cases began when Bush was president. There were attempts to formulate indictments, but Drake notes “the trigger was not pulled” until Obama was president. And once that trigger was pulled, everything began to unfold with the case against you being put together.
This is Part 1 & 2 of a discussion I had with Thomas Drake. Part 3 & 4 will be posted in the coming days.