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John Kiriakou is the only person imprisoned in connection with the CIA torture program. John didn’t participate in the program, he blew the whistle on it. His crime was that he was the first person to publicly confirm that the CIA had used waterboarding and that was not the result of rogue actors, but official policy approved by the president himself.
John joins us on the latest episode of Primary Sources, our new limited series podcast that gives voice to whistleblowers and other truthtellers who exposed civil liberties and human rights abuses committed in the name of national security.
Primary Sources can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify, and many other platforms where podcasts are found. You can also find it on the web here.
John’s interview is a timely examination of the way US officials exploited the terrible tragedy of 9/11 to increase the power of the US national security state and undermine civil liberties.
In the previous podcast episode, NSA whistleblower Tom Drake gives his perspective on what that looked like from inside the secretive spy agency. As Drake recounts, while he and other NSA employees struggled with the knowledge that the agency had failed to prevent the worst attack on US soil, higher up the chain of command NSA officials were mostly interested in their expanded budget and carrying out illegal surveillance authorized by the president himself.
While these first hand accounts of life inside the CIA and NSA as they journeyed to the dark side are particularly time worthy, it’s worth noting Primary Sources was launched on another anniversary–the 50th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers. The Espionage Act ties these stories together, a World War I-era law that crushed anti-war dissent at the time, was expanded during the McCarthy period, and during the War on Terror became the go-to weapon against whistleblowers.
The national security state, with its evisceration of civil liberties at home and unbridled militarism abroad, is facilitated by a cult of secrecy. It has ruthlessly sought to destroy those brave truthtellers who have defied it.
Primary Sources bears witness to this history, by bringing you their voices.