ALEXANDRIA, VA. - A former CIA officer accused of leaking to journalists the identities of two former colleagues involved in the agency's detention and interrogation program for high-level Al-Qaida suspects pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a single charge. The plea deal was a victory for the Obama administration's crackdown on unauthorized disclosures of government secrets.
The former officer, John Kiriakou, 48, stood in a federal courtroom in the Eastern District of Virginia and told the judge that he had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing the name of a former colleague to a reporter, who has been identified as Matthew Cole, formerly of ABC News. Under the terms of the plea deal, Kiriakou will be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
But prosecutors agreed to drop several other charges, including accusations that he identified another colleague involved in interrogations to a different journalist, Scott Shane of the New York Times, and that he lied to a CIA publication board reviewing his memoir.
Kiriakou worked for the CIA from 1990 to 2004. He was a leader of the team that located and captured Abu Zubaydah, a suspected high-level member of Al-Qaida, in Pakistan in 2002. He came to public attention in late 2007 when he gave an interview to ABC News portraying the suffocation technique called waterboarding as torture, but calling it necessary. It later emerged that he significantly understated the CIA's use of the technique.
Judge Leonie Brinkema indicated that she thought the 30-month term in the plea deal was appropriate, noting that it was the same term that Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, received for obstruction charges in connection with the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson. NEW YORK TIMES