JK: For the first time in my life, I fear for the country. The two major parties are represented by a lunatic and a criminal. Third parties are kept out of the debates and minimized to keep them from gaining any political traction. What I fear most is that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will continue the Obama Administration's war against transparency and whistleblowers. Government secrets will remain secret, even when they violate the law. That won't change, at least in the next four years.
JB: I hear you. Which one's the criminal? And why? Can you be a bit more specific here? I don't want to make assumptions.
JK: I've been very, very disappointed in Hillary Clinton's candidacy. I always thought that Benghazi was a Republican red herring. But this email scandal had legs. If there was any sense of fairness, any sense of justice, Hillary would have been charged with espionage. You see, the Obama Administration, and especially the Holder Justice Department, made a policy decision in early 2009 to use the espionage act against people speaking to the press.
The espionage act is very, very broadly written. It defines espionage as the act of "providing national defense information to any person not entitled to receive it." I personally believe that it's unconstitutionally vague. But it has been used against whistleblowers a record eight times by this administration. The issue is, though, that that is what Hillary Clinton did. We know that from documents released through the Freedom of Information Act. Hillary Clinton committed a crime that eight of us have been prosecuted for. In the interest of justice, in the interest of fairness, she should either be charged with a crime or the rest of us should be pardoned.
JB: You make some good points. How much hope do you have that justice will be carried out in that regard?
JK: I like to think I'm a realist. Nobody in Washington does things because they're the "right thing to do." They do things because there's something in it for them. With that said, I have submitted a pardon application to the president. I enclosed with it a letter of support signed by 81 former CIA, NSA, State Department, and military officers and FBI agents, a letter from the author of the law I was convicted of violating, saying that I should never have been prosecuted in the first place, and a copy of a 1982 op-ed by then-Senator Joe Biden, saying that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was unconstitutional and should never have been enacted. I would certainly appreciate a presidential pardon. But I'm not expecting one.
JB: This reminds me a bit of the [former Alabama Governor Don] Siegelman case. In an unprecedented bipartisan display, over 100 former state attorneys general of both parties decried his sentence, asking for a prompt presidential pardon. Yet he still sits in federal prison, convicted of something that isn't even a crime.... Back to you. How does a former CIA analyst/convicted felon support his family these days?
JK: That's a good question. And a difficult one. Washington is sometimes called the "city of second chances." Are you a congressman who buggers a page? No problem. You get a second chance. You out Valerie Plame? No worries. You can make half a million dollars at a consulting firm. But for me, Washington isn't the city of second chances. I'll never work here again. Since I got home from prison almost two years ago, I've written a weekly column for California-based Reader Supported News. I also contribute to California-based Truthdig. I've also had the good fortune to have consulted on a number of movies and television series. So I think my future is in Los Angeles.