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.”
We're getting some new insight this week into the enhanced interrogation techniques that were formally used by the CIA, which setup a nationwide controversy when they were made public back in 2009.
Jose Rodriguez, former director of CIA's National Clandestine Service, was the man who ordered the destruction of the tapes of some of those enhanced interrogation techniques and says he has no regrets. He's speaking out for the first time in his new book, "Hard Measures, How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."
He talks live this morning with Soledad on "Starting Point" and explains that his book is not a defense of torture, but an explanation of the techniques they used. He also says claims that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times was totally overblown.
"It is a myth," Rodriguez says. "Somehow 183 pints of water became 183 times. Actually, he told the Red Cross that he was waterboarded during five sessions and that was it. It's a handful of times that he was waterboarded."
Rodriguez also says the technique usually encouraged subjects to start talking rather quickly.
"There were some detainees that actually in a few days they were cooperating. Be mindful that waterboarding was only done on three occasions to three persons who have American blood on their hands. But in most cases a few days, in case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a couple of weeks, two or three weeks," he says.
As for criticisms that 'enhanced interrogation' is just code for torture, Rodriguez says the 10 interrogation techniques mentioned in the book aren't that bad.
"If you look at the techniques themselves and if you actually paid attention and looked at the ten techniques that are used here, they are pretty wimpy if you look at them one at a time," He says. "These are things that I have no moral qualms on my own or anyone else who work with me in doing mindful of the fact these are people who killed and who are going to kill more of our people.