I have 40 fans: Become a Fan. You'll get emails whenever I post articles on OpEdNews
John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA and two years in a federal prison for blowing the whistle on the agency's use of torture. He served on John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years as senior investigator into the Middle East. He writes and speaks about national security, whistleblowing, the prison-industrial complex, and foreign policy, and is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and winner of the 2015 PEN Center USA First Amendment award.
When Twitter Decides Who Speaks
Censorship has become such a normal part of daily American life that most people either don't pay attention to it or don't care. But it's taken on a life of its own, and it's beginning to spin out of control. We must take back our constitutional right to freedom of speech and our civil liberties. This is an issue of free speech.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018(1 comments)
Giving Trump Carte Blanche for War
A little-noticed Senate bill would give Donald Trump blanket permission to launch wars in violation of the Constitution, says John Kiriakou.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
There certainly have been some great leaps forward. Americans are far better informed now than they were in 2013. But the government is still spying on us with impunity. The courts are no help. Our only hope is to elect like-minded supporters of privacy and civil liberties. Or we can hope for another Snowden to shake things up again.
A Billion Dollar Empire Profiting on the Misery of Sick Prisoners
An alarming trend has emerged that indicates that Correct Care, the same company that built a billion-dollar empire profiting on the misery of sick prisoners, the same company that Governor Bruce Rauner has invested in, is now rebranding itself as the go-to healthcare company for mental hospitals, civil commitment centers, and ICE detention facilities.
Friday, June 29, 2018(1 comments)
Sessions vs. Winner -- It's Just the Beginning
The Justice Department will seek to charge you in the district where they think you will get the severest sentence. That's usually the Eastern District of Virginia. This is sometimes a stretch, but it's something that the Justice Department gets away with all the time.
Monday, June 18, 2018(4 comments)
The IG Report Says the FBI Is Deeply Flawed. I Know.
The FBI is corrupt. The entire system is corrupt. There's one version of the law for you and me and another version for the FBI. The Inspector General laid it all bare. Now let's see if anybody does anything about it. Don't hold your breath.
Saturday, June 9, 2018(3 comments)
Before You Give Your Computer to the Geek Squad
The FBI, just like the CIA, is constantly pushing the envelope of legality. They do it to see what they can get away with, and if successful, that is what becomes policy for the next case. It's an incremental power grab. It's oversight committees on Capitol Hill and federal judges that are supposed to protect us against that.
Saturday, May 26, 2018(2 comments)
In Support of the First Step Act
The House of Representatives this week passed a bipartisan criminal justice reform measure called the First Step Act by an overwhelming majority of 360-59. There will never be a consensus in Congress over true reform. Maybe if we're really lucky -- someday -- we'll be able to do away with the draconian sentences that we have for nonviolent drug crimes. That'll be a start. But we're not there yet.
Sunday, May 20, 2018(6 comments)
Again I Am Speaking Out Against Torture, Again I Am Under Attack
I was very public in my opposition to Gina Haspel. I believe that her deep involvement in the CIA's torture program is disqualifying, no matter how many of the CIA's rank-and-file employees love her, as Senator Mark Warner said in rationalizing his flip-flop on her nomination.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018(3 comments)
Gina Haspel Debate Spotlights America's Soul Sickness
The Trump administration wants you to forget the CIA's sordid history of torture. It wants you to believe that the torture program was legal, that it was patriotic, that it was necessary to protect Americans -- lies that were dispensed with before the Bush people even left office. The Trump administration wants you to believe that Haspel is the only perfect candidate for the job.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018(2 comments)
Islamic Terrorism Has an Advocate in the Oval Office
John Bolton's ascent to one of the most important positions in government and Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, have allowed an avowed terrorist group -- and its cult-like leader -- to take on a position of authority in Washington and in American foreign policy.
Friday, May 4, 2018(8 comments)
The Coming US War Against Iran
Benjamin Netanyahu's recent "presentation" on what he called a clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program was embarrassingly similar to Powell's heavily scripted speech before the UN Security Council 15 years earlier telling the world that Iraq had a program. That, too, was a lie. We have to be diligent in opposing this run into another war of choice. We can't be tricked or taken by surprise. Not again.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018(3 comments)
As the Haspel Nomination Looms, the World Is Watching
What the Greeks (and the Germans, the Italians, the Belgians, and others) just cannot get past is that Trump has named Gina Haspel as CIA director. Haspel, as you know, was instrumental in the implementation of the CIA's torture program and was responsible for destroying video tapes of the torture at the insistence of her patron, the notorious former CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jose Rodriguez.
Monday, April 9, 2018(4 comments)
On Police Shootings, Time to Take to the Streets
The police kill far, far more people of color than they do whites. They are far quicker to resort to violence without even understanding the basics of what is happening; indeed, they usually fire at a suspect within seconds of their arrival on scene. Innocent people of color will continue to die at the hands of the police. And nobody is doing anything about it. Our only alternative is to take to the streets.
Monday, April 2, 2018(3 comments)
In the Crystal Mason Case, What Was the Intent of the State of Texas?
How many cases of voter fraud has Texas seen? There were three in the last election. Three. The governor was nonplussed. "We will continue our effort to crack down and make sure there is no illegal voting in Texas," Abbott said.
Crystal Mason is his latest victim. And her only hope is a pardon -- from Greg Abbott.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018(1 comments)
The Conservative Case Against Gina Haspel
Libertarian-leaning Republican senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that not only will he vote against Haspel, he will also filibuster the nomination. Paul does that kind of thing to nominees who have a background in the CIA's torture program; he filibustered John Brennan's nomination as CIA director when President Obama made that appointment in 2013.
Monday, March 19, 2018(4 comments)
Gina Haspel Should Be in the Dock at the Hague
We only have a little bit of time. We have to organize quickly and not back down. We have to tell the CIA that it cannot violate U.S. and international law and not have a price to pay. Gina Haspel should be in the dock at The Hague. She shouldn't be in the CIA director's office.
Saturday, March 17, 2018(7 comments)
I Went to Prison for Disclosing CIA Torture. Gina Haspel Helped Cover It Up.
Do we Americans want to remain a nation that tortures people, like North Korea, China and Iran? Do we want to be the country that cynically preaches human rights and then violates those same rights when we think nobody is looking? Our country cannot afford that. We cannot look the other way. We cannot reward the torturers. Gina Haspel has no business running the CIA.
Thursday, March 15, 2018(1 comments)
"Bloody Gina" Should Not Lead the CIA
If there was ever a time for Senate Democrats to stand together, it is now. Our nation cannot afford to backslide into lawlessness. We cannot countenance torture. We cannot look the other way. We cannot reward the torturers. Gina Haspel more appropriately should be facing a judge to answer to charges of war crimes.
Sunday, March 11, 2018(3 comments)
Child Bride Trafficking, a State Right?
As many as 100,000 children are trafficked for sex in the United States every year. It's not just in the South, irrespective of my spur of the moment decision to pick on it. It's all across the country, with Miami and Cincinnati being two of the worst places for child trafficking. The number boggles the mind. And it's not something that we see much coverage of in the press.
Thursday, March 1, 2018(1 comments)
The Cost of Blowing the Whistle Is High, but Worth It
The road ahead is not going to be any easier for any other whistleblower. But things are certainly better than they were when Dan Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers. The personal cost is high. But it's worth it. As Lt. Brass said, some things are right or wrong. We have to stand up for what's right. And to do that, we can't remain silent.
Saturday, February 24, 2018(5 comments)
Why Does the CIA Prefer Corporate Media?
The CIA can do whatever it wants. The rest of us have to follow the rules. There is one glimmer of hope, though. It's Judge Colleen McMahon and those jurists like her. Maybe she'll use this case to give Washington a lesson in respect for the law, freedom of the press, and separation of powers. Maybe.
Friday, February 9, 2018(4 comments)
It's been proven time and time again that having generals in positions of power is bad for everybody. But this is where Trump has brought us. We can't roll over. We have to resist those who would take away our rights. Our voices will only be heard if we take to the streets to block this president while we can and then oust him when we're able.
Monday, February 5, 2018(3 comments)
Sharia Law: It's Not What You Think It Is
Sharia law in the US is entirely community-based, and the structure of Sharia jurisprudence in the US is very similar to that exercised by the Rom, formerly known as "gypsies." Sam Brownback's interference, and the interference of others like him, will result only in further misunderstanding, distrust, and hatred. That's not what our country needs.
Sunday, January 28, 2018(1 comments)
Exploiting the Good Work of Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers don't live and act in a bubble. They see what happens around them. They read the internal memos that circulate in every federal department and agency urging employees to report evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality. And then they see the response: personal, professional, and financial ruin. All for doing the right thing.
Sunday, January 21, 2018(6 comments)
The word "treason" has entered the American political vernacular. We see it all the time now, as if it's somehow normal that traitors are allowed to commit their treason and continue to walk the streets and work in high-ranking positions in the government. In just the past two weeks there have been myriad examples.
Friday, January 12, 2018
A Warning for Democrats, and Indeed for All Americans
It's time for the Democrats to clean up their act. They're going to be the party of freedom, civil liberties, and human rights or they aren't. They need to choose. They can still end up on the right side of history. But that's only if they shun monsters like Mike Hayden, John Brennan, and Jim Clapper and others like them, and if they start paying a little more attention to the Constitution.
Saturday, January 6, 2018(12 comments)
Would Eric Holder Have Prosecuted Huma Abedin?
President Donald Trump called (again) last week for the Justice Department to initiate a criminal investigation of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin after the State Department posted thousands of emails and other documents that were found on the laptop of Abedin's estranged husband, former congressman and current federal sex offender Anthony Weiner.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Can #MeToo Reach the Hidden Victims?
The #MeToo movement is one of the most important societal watersheds in recent history. It's an example of karma, even justice; it's an example of the bad guy paying for his malfeasance. The likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and others will likely never be in a position to hurt anyone again. That's good for all of us.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017(1 comments)
Stelios Kouloglou: Why Travel Bans Don't Work
Are we Americans such hothouse flowers that any criticism of our government or its policies brands a person an Enemy of the State? What happened to freedom of speech? What happened to the free exchange of ideas? Since when did it become dangerous to say that the U.S. invasion of another country, done in contravention of international law and the United Nations charter, was illegal? It was illegal!
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Barack Obama's Parting Gift to Donald Trump Was Mike Flynn
After Flynn had proven himself a thorn in the collective sides of Obama and Ashton Carter, then Secretary of Defense, he jumped into the Trump campaign with both feet, famously leading a chant of "Lock her up!" in reference to Hillary Clinton, at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Saturday, December 2, 2017(2 comments)
Mr. Trump, You're No Beacon
The world is not missing anything here. We are indeed making stupid decisions. The country is off the rails. We weaken ourselves and our nation when we say and do stupid things. This is not a partisan issue. It is a patriotic one. The world is watching! Let's act like the leaders that we want the rest of the world to think we are.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017(1 comments)
Maggots on Prison Food Is Crime on Crime
Three state prisoners in Oregon have filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against four of the state's prisons, saying that they were forced to eat fish and chicken intended to be animal feed or "bait food," as well as spoiled milk and other moldy, rotten or inedible food. The suit accuses the Department of Corrections of civil rights violations and "deliberate indifference to health and safety."
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Prison Labor Camps Are Not Progressive
In the DARP program, prisoners work full-time jobs in factories and chicken processing plants, companies pay a discounted rate to the rehabs for the labor, and literally none of that money is passed on to the prisoners, either as salary or for counseling. It's slave labor. If they refuse to do the work, they are moved from the drug rehab to a state prison.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017(1 comments)
John Kerry's Deadly Embrace of Saudi Arabia
What we're seeing in Saudi Arabia today is not an attempt to bring the country into modernity, nor is it enactment of a new anti-corruption policy, as the Saudis have claimed. Instead, it's a coup. Muhammad bin Salman, the king's son, deposed his cousin, Muhammad bin Nayif, and immediately began to put his personal imprimatur on the kingdom.
Thursday, November 9, 2017(6 comments)
Is the Law More Important to the Court Than It Was to Manafort?
In the United States we have a presumption of innocence. We also have attorney-client privilege. We live in a society where we at least used to believe that it was better for a guilty man to go free than for an innocent one to go to prison. It seems that that has changed. And we're a lesser country for it.
Friday, November 3, 2017(5 comments)
Murder in Paraguay
Millions of Americans travel overseas every year, whether it's across the border to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Cancun, or to more exotic locales. But nobody expects to die violently while abroad, and especially not a 16-year-old. That's what happened to Alex Villamayor. If there was ever a time for Donald Trump to "put America first," this is it.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017(1 comments)
Jeff Sessions Is All Wrong on Halfway Houses
There's a clear-cut right way and a clear-cut wrong way to reform the system. Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions is wrong. He's clearly and obviously wrong. If somebody is getting out of prison, which nearly every federal prisoner eventually will, and he has no education, no job training, and no life skills, he's going to do the only thing he knows how to do. He's going to commit crimes again.
Monday, October 16, 2017(4 comments)
The Deep State Did Not Cause My Motorcycle Accident, But It Does Exist
I still think it was an accident. But when the Attorney General of the United States tells a U.S. senator, with a completely straight face in an open Congressional hearing, that the president can have an American citizen assassinated on U.S. soil without benefit of a trial, it gives one pause. I didn't want to acknowledge it, but maybe there was something more to this than I was willing to admit to myself.
Friday, September 29, 2017(1 comments)
Anthony Weiner Is In for a Rude Awakening
Anthony Weiner is in for an experience that he'll never forget -- and not in a good way. Being convicted of a crime is bad. Being convicted of a felony, with all the accompanying losses of civil liberties, is worse. But being convicted of a child sex crime is life-changing in the worst possible way. On November 6, Weiner will begin a 21-month federal sentence for transferring obscene material to a minor.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017(20 comments)
The Pentagon's Propagandization of American Sports
Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric condemning NFL football players exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression has plunged the country into a social and political crisis. Our fearless leader simply cannot abide those with whom he disagrees having a voice that is contrary to his own.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Let Jeffrey Sterling Go
Sterling will be sent to a halfway house 45 miles from his home, and BOP regulations forbid him from driving. Furthermore, the halfway house is in the center of the neighborhood that is the scene of St. Louis's current riots. It's not the best place to be an unemployed African-American man on federal probation right now.
Sunday, September 17, 2017(2 comments)
Chelsea Manning and Harvard -- Let's Talk About Disgrace
Chelsea Manning, on the other hand, made classified revelations in the public interest. She is the definition of a whistleblower -- she brought to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, and threats to public health or public safety. Harvard made a big mistake. It wasn't just to disinvite Chelsea Manning. It was to hire the likes of Mike Morell in the first place.
Monday, September 11, 2017(6 comments)
The Constitution Was a Victim of September 11th Too
The saddest part about the past 16 years is how both major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have fallen into line. Neoconservative and neoliberal political leadership is now the norm. Since September 11, neither party has seen a war that it didn't want to jump into with both feet. And it's all in the name of "national security."
Tuesday, September 5, 2017(3 comments)
The FBI's Spy and Whistleblower Shell Game
The FBI doesn't care about the truth or about justice. It cares only about making a case, even where one doesn't exist. It does that by tying whistleblowers and other freedom fighters to criminals. That keeps the FBI in the news. It makes it look like the Bureau is accomplishing something. And that's how the FBI gets budget increases on Capitol Hill and how its agents get promoted.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
"Hang 'Em High" Henry Hudson to Oversee Sentencing Guidelines?
We probably can all agree that sentences should be tough for those people using violence in the commission of a crime or for those involved in human trafficking. But reinstating harsh mandatory minimums for nonviolent and/or first-time drug offenders is a mistake.
Friday, August 25, 2017(6 comments)
Trump Falls for the Afghanistan Trap
Who convinced Trump -- who has literally no experience whatsoever in foreign, defense, or intelligence policy -- to continue the same failed policy that Barack Obama and George W. Bush pursued before him? It was those generals who were supposed to be the adults in the room. It was the generals that the mainstream media hoped would be the ones to moderate this unpredictable president.
Saturday, August 12, 2017(15 comments)
How to Challenge Media Narratives Without Being Called a Conspiracy Theorist
What is a conspiracy theory? Simply put, it's an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy without evidence, usually involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by the government or other powerful actors. Conspiracy theories often produce hypotheses that contradict the prevailing understanding of history or simple facts.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017(5 comments)
The Espionage Act in the Hands of Jeff Sessions
Sessions couched the announcement in terms of a campaign against those who harm the country's security by wantonly leaking national security information. But nothing could be further from the truth. This is a policy to use the Espionage Act -- bringing one of the gravest charges that can be levied against an American -- to plug leaks that do nothing more than embarrass the president.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
In Bizarro World Jared Kushner Might Be Useful
Kushner has a personal reason to focus on sentencing reform. In 2005 his father, Charles Kushner, was sentenced to two years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion. The elder Kushner was prosecuted by an ambitious prosecutor trying to make a name for himself -- Chris Christie.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Sessions Prosecutes Laughter, We Have to Take to the Streets
This is the Department of Justice under Sessions. Sessions is ordering his minions to pursue these inconsequential cases. Worse, he's backtracked on sentencing reform and mandatory minimums, on prosecuting undocumented workers, and on expanding the use of private prisons. The dismantling of Obama-era judicial reforms is well underway.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017(1 comments)
The Federal Judiciary, Stupid Is as Stupid Does
It's not just defendants who are routinely wronged in the courts. Plaintiffs, too, get the occasional screwing. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, recently upheld an award of $1 in a case where a jury found that a prison guard had used excessive force against a prisoner.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Snitches Get Stitches
With rats lined up to testify, the defendant doesn't have a chance. The dirty little secret of the American court system is that very few defendants ever get to face their accusers in a court of law or be judged by a jury of their peers. It's a quaint idea, but it never happens.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017(3 comments)
Attention Evangelicals: Donald Trump Is Screwing You!
It's time for evangelicals to take stock of their political positions. Do they want to be on the side of Trump or on the side of human rights and religious freedom? Maybe it's time for them to ask themselves an important question: Who would Jesus deport?
Thursday, June 8, 2017(2 comments)
What Reality Winner Did Was Heroic
The arrest this week of NSA contractor Reality Winner on Espionage Act charges of providing national defense information to The Intercept is the clearest evidence to date that President Donald Trump intends to continue former president Barack Obama's war on whistleblowers and transparency.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017(5 comments)
James Comey, a Whistleblower, Really?
The legal definition of a whistleblower is "any person who brings to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to the public health or public safety." So I guess, technically, Comey fits the bill.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017(2 comments)
A Fair Trial for Julian Assange
If recent press reports are to be believed, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the target of a secret grand jury investigation, either in the federal court of the District of Columbia or in the notorious Eastern District of Virginia, known colloquially as 'the espionage court.'
Monday, May 22, 2017(4 comments)
While "Doing Time Like a Spy," I Saw the Real War on Drugs
Kiriakou writes: The United States has roughly five percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prison population. That means that about 0.9 percent of all Americans are in prison. Doesn't sound like a lot, right? Well, it's more, per capita, than Russia, China, and even Iran.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Federal Prison Wardens' Absurd Mismanagement Bonuses
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) doled out more than $2 million in "performance bonuses" to wardens and its most senior administrators over the past three years, even as it was dealing unsuccessfully with issues of overcrowding, terrible health care for prisoners, and a major sexual harassment lawsuit.