The Justice Department on Monday charged a former Central Intelligence Agency officer with disclosing classified information to journalists about the capture and brutal interrogation of a suspected member of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah — adding another chapter to the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on leaks.
In a criminal complaint filed on Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation accused John Kiriakou, the former C.I.A. agent, of disclosing to several journalists the identity of a C.I.A. analyst who worked on a 2002 operation that seized and interrogated Abu Zubaydah, including using the suffocation technique known as waterboarding. The journalists included one at The New York Times, the complaint charged.
“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of C.I.A. officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., in a statement. “Today’s charges reinforce the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable anyone who would violate the solemn duty not to disclose such sensitive information.”
Mr. Kiriakou, 47, played an important role in the fight against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks. He is the sixth person to be charged in connection with accusations of leaking classified information by the Obama administration, more than under any previous president.
At the same time, the Justice Department cleared the American Civil Liberties Union of wrongdoing for its efforts, on behalf of defense attorneys representing Abu Zubaydah and other “high value” Qaeda suspects, to identify officials involved in their clients’ interrogations. The attorneys were hoping to call such officials to testify in eventual trials to make the case that their clients should not be executed because they had been tortured while in the custody of the United States government.
Among other things, the F.B.I. complaint accuses Mr. Kiriakou of being a source for a June 2008 front-page Times article, written by reporter Scott Shane, that identified a C.I.A. employee who played a major role in the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and another high-level Qaeda figure, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
Robert Christie, a spokesman for The Times declined to discuss the matter. “We’re not commenting at all,” he said.
Remember, folks, in the national security state, the real criminals are not the torturers, but those who talk about the torturers. All the criminals who did this shit? We need to keep on walking, not look backwards, yadda yadda yadda. The people who talked about the criminals? Lock those fuckers up.