JB: Washington's loss is LA's gain: how trite yet true. What was the award ceremony like last night? Did it at all mitigate your feelings about the way you've been treated by our government?
JK: I have been truly blessed and fortunate since this entire nightmare began. I can count on one hand the number of friends who walked away from me after my arrest, and every single one of them had something to do with the torture program. No loss. But more importantly, this experience has allowed me to meet some absolutely amazing people and to make many, many new friends. My life is better now that it has ever been. On the day of my arrest, my brother told me, "I know you can't see it. But this will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you." He was right. It has.
The Sam Adams award ceremony was, in my mind, less a formal ceremony than it was a gathering of friends. I was so honored to be on the stage with giants, people for whom I have had only the greatest respect for as long as I can remember.
JB: Well, I think it's safe to say that you fit right in with that illustrious crowd. With the current environment less and less friendly to whistleblowers, do you have any words of advice to those who might be contemplating risking career and reputation, not to mention their liberty, in order to share the truth with the public?
JK: Thanks for that. I do have one important piece of advice. It's not romantic or sexy sounding. It's to simply engage an attorney skilled in whistleblowing issues BEFORE blowing the whistle. I waited to hire an attorney and I found myself reacting and responding to the government, rather than acting proactively. If you are in national security, hire the best national security litigators money can buy.
JB: Do you think things could have gone differently if you had followed this piece of advice?
JK: Yes, I do. The one critical mistake I made was to speak to the FBI. Never, ever speak to the FBI under any circumstances. But I had worked side-by-side with the FBI for decades. I had no idea I was under investigation. And the FBI twisted everything I said. When I came out of the meeting, I had five felonies hanging over my head. If I had my attorney with me, he would have ended the meeting in five seconds. I would never have been convicted of anything.
JB: An expensive life lesson. Let's turn back to the presidential election for a moment. You clearly are no fan of either of the major candidates. Did you have a horse in this race? Do you like the third party candidates any better? Or is the system so broken that the particular candidate doesn't matter much anymore?