Jon Kiriakou: Obama's Abuse of the Espionage Act is Modern-Day McCarthyism

tags: Barack Obama, Guardian (UK), McCarthyism, Espionage Act, Jon Kiriakou



John Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and whistleblower. He worked for the agency from 1990 to 2004, including as chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan. In an interview in 2009, he became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects. From 2009 to 2011, John was a senior investigator for the US Senate foreign relations committee. In 2012, he was charged with leaking classified information to journalists; he is currently serving a 30-month prison sentence in Loretto, Pennsylvania

The conviction of Bradley Manning under the 1917 Espionage Act, and the US Justice Department's decision to file espionage charges against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden under the same act, are yet further examples of the Obama administration's policy of using an iron fist against human rights and civil liberties activists.

President Obama has been unprecedented in his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute those whose whistleblowing he wants to curtail. The purpose of an Espionage Act prosecution, however, is not to punish a person for spying for the enemy, selling secrets for personal gain, or trying to undermine our way of life. It is to ruin the whistleblower personally, professionally and financially. It is meant to send a message to anybody else considering speaking truth to power: challenge us and we will destroy you.

Only ten people in American history have been charged with espionage for leaking classified information, seven of them under Barack Obama. The effect of the charge on a person's life – being viewed as a traitor, being shunned by family and friends, incurring massive legal bills – is all a part of the plan to force the whistleblower into personal ruin, to weaken him to the point where he will plead guilty to just about anything to make the case go away. I know. The three espionage charges against me made me one of "the Obama Seven"....



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