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February 27th, 2013
10:36 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: CIA officer-turned-whistleblower John Kiriakou says conviction a 'badge of honor,' feels ‘optimistic’ about prison sentence

On Thursday, former CIA officer-turned-whistleblower John Kiriakou will be on his way to a federal prison in Pennsylvania. Last month, he was given a 30-month sentence for being among the first CIA operatives to confirm the use of waterboarding among detainees back in 2007. Kiriakou is also the first person convicted of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in 27 years.

This morning Kiriakou joins “Starting Point” to talk with Soledad O'Brien about his upcoming prison sentence in an exclusive interview.

Kiriakou, who also served as a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he feels “oddly optimistic” about his upcoming prison sentence and wears his “conviction as a badge of honor.”

“I believe my case was about torture, not about leaking. I'm right on the torture issue, the administration is wrong, and I’m just going to carry that with me,” he says.

In his book "The Reluctant Spy," Kiriakou discusses his choice to disclose the name of a covert CIA officer who was involved in interrogations that were happening at Guantanamo Bay while maintaining his argument that the case against him was not about leaking.

“If the administration was going to pursue leakers, they would pursue the likes of John Brennan and countless officials in the White House, The Defense Department, Capitol Hill; the jails would be bursting with administration officials and with present and former CIA officers,” he argues.

Kiriakou, who will soon be departing from his wife and five children, says “the government was looking for something that they could pin on me, they found something, and they went with it.”


Filed under: CIA • Crime • Waterboarding