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General News    H2'ed 2/12/15

Freed CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Says "I Would Do It All Again" to Expose Torture

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AMY GOODMAN: I want to play for you comments President Obama made in 2009 about whether CIA officials involved in torture should be prosecuted. He appeared on the ABC News program, This Week.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don't believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that -- for example, at the CIA, you've got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don't want them to suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no 9/11 Commission with independent subpoena power?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, we have not made final decisions, but my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that, moving forward, we are doing the right thing.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama right after he became president in 2009. Right after, he signed, well, what? One of his first executive orders, to close Guantanamo. Your thoughts on what he just said--

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: --to George Stephanopoulos?

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Sure. I understand that President Obama is not going to seek the prosecution of the CIA leaders who carried out the torture, the case officers involved in the day-to-day torture program. I understand that. The lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, I understand. No problem. But what about the CIA officers who directly violated the law, who carried out interrogations that resulted in death? What about the torturers of Hassan Ghul? Hassan Ghul was killed during an interrogation session.

AMY GOODMAN: In Afghanistan.

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Those people should not be above the law. Correct, in Afghanistan. Those people should not be above the law. They committed crimes, whether in the United States or overseas. And those people should be prosecuted.

AMY GOODMAN: Instead, you were the only one who went to prison. Would you do what you did again, John?

JOHN KIRIAKOU: As crazy as it sounds, yes, I would. I would do it all over again. What has happened since that 2007 ABC News interview is that torture has been banned in the United States. It is no longer a part of U.S. government policy. And I'm proud to have played a role in that. If that cost me 23 months of my life, well, you know what? It was worth it.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking to NBC's Meet the Press in December, after the Senate torture report was released, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he would do it all again.

DICK CHENEY: I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and were released than I am with a few that in fact were innocent.

CHUCK TODD: Twenty-five percent of the detainees, though. Twenty-five percent turned out not to have -- turned out to be innocent. They were --

DICK CHENEY: So, where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are you going to know?

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