CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou, in Letter, Describes Breaking Finger in Prison & Being Denied Treatment
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is serving a thirty-month sentence in the federal correctional institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written a third letter from the prison.
Kiriakou was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the administration of President George W. Bush. He was convicted in October of last year of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter and sentenced in January of this year. He reported to prison on February 28 (which was also the day that Pfc. Bradley Manning pled guilty to some offenses and read a statement in military court at Fort Meade).
This is the third letter to be published byFiredoglake since Kiriakou went to prison. Kiriakou did not directly provide it to Firedoglake. He sent it to his attorney, Jesselyn Radack, of the Government Accountability Project.
Kiriakou describes in the first part of his latest “Letter from Loretto” how he has had issues with the medical unit of the prison.
“Two weeks after my arrival, I dislocated my left pinkie finger while exercising. I popped it back into place, but having broken bones in the past, I knew the finger was also broken, so I walked over to medical,” he writes.
Kiriakou goes on to recount how he knew his finger was broken so he went “Medical.” He approached the “pill line attendant” and told the person that he needed to be seen the next morning.
“I returned to Medical in the morning with my entire left hand swollen, my finger double in size and told my PA [physician’s assistant] that I was certain it was broken. No, the PA said, it’s just jammed. He put it in a splint, despite my request for an x-ray. He told me to come back in a week and he gave me some ibuprofen,” according to Kiriakou.
The swelling and pain he was experiencing did not improve. He asked for an x-ray again. Ten days later, the PA agreed to give him one, finally, and it was discovered that a “tendon had snapped off at the center knuckle, pulling a chunk of bone off with it.” It was broken. “Just like I said.”
It was rewrapped by the PA in another splint and the PA said arrangements would be made to get him an orthopedic specialist.
No less than eight days later—and eighteen days after his injury—Kiriakou was called to the office. “Kiriakou—report to the lieutenant’s office.”
Kiriakou further recounts:
…I walked to the office and was told that I was going for an outside medical consultation. First I was escorted to the medical unit, where I was strip-searched and given brown pants, a brown tee-shirt, a pair of underwear, a pair of socks and a pair of slippers. The corrections officer (CO) took my clothes and my watch and put them in a plastic bag that he locked in the unit. I was then handcuffed and shackled around my ankles. A chain was placed around my waist, which connected to my handcuffs and my leg irons. Then a black steel box about the size of a computer hard drive was locked over the handcuffs so the lock could not be picked…
As he notes, “Remember, I’m a dangerous criminal.” Actually, he was to be put in a minimum security camp where he would have been given better treatment and more freedom as a prisoner. The Bureau of Prisons reneged on this tacit agreement and he ended up in a part of the prison with higher security.
“If I had been in the camp, where I was supposed to be,” Kiriakou states, “an inmate driver would have simply dropped me off at the doctor’s office and then picked me up afterward. But a nameless faceless bureaucrat in the Bureau of Prisons decided that I am a ‘threat to public safety.'”
Shackled, Kiriakou was told to sign a form of “rules,” one of them being if he escaped he would be shot. Another rule was that he address everybody as “Sir” during the trip. He refused to sign.
The CO refused to take him to the doctor. Kiriakou said fine. The two stared at each other. The CO then said, “Ok. Forget it.” He took “shackled baby steps to a waiting van with two COs in it,” and he was driven to a doctor’s office that was near the prison.
The rest of his medical drama does not conclude because Radack is reviewing Part 2 of the letter for publishing by Firedoglake. When that review is complete, Part 2 will be posted.
Also, the letter mentions that he has been following the case of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who blew the whistle on US government secret surveillance programs. He wrote a letter that Firedoglake published last week advising Snowden not to make the same mistakes he did.
And Kiriakou shares with his supporters, “Thank you for the more than 200 letters I’ve received,” since the first “Letter from Loretto” was published. He is answering each of them, however, it is a slow process. He also thanks supporters for “very generous contributions” to his family through his website, DefendJohnK.com.
“I’ve told several of you that I could only make it through this nightmare because of friends and supporters like you, and I mean it,” Kiriakou shares.
Kiriakou has a wife and five children. He pled guilty to the IIPA offense because, initially, he was charged with violating the Espionage Act. It was the only way he could be certain he would not be convicted of other charges and go to jail for possibly decades and miss seeing some of his children grow up.
For the record, Firedoglake supports Kiriakou’s First Amendment right to share what he is experiencing in prison with the public. If the Bureau of Prisons chooses to retaliate against him or punish him for speaking his mind, Firedoglake stands ready to support him.
John Kiriakou – Letter from Loretto #3 [Part 1] (Text)
Photo by truthout.org released under Creative Commons License
— Transcript —
“Letter from Loretto”
Hello again from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, PA. First, I wanted to thank everybody for the interest in my (unreadable) first letter. We had more than 1 million hits! Second thank you for the more than 200 letters I’ve received since the this letter was published. I’m answering each of them, but sending them out is a slow process because I have to use mailing labels and we’re only allowed to print five per day. Third, thank you very much for your very generous contributions to my family through www.defendjohnk.com and through the Government Accountability Project. I’ve told several of you that I could only make it through this nightmare because of friends and supporters like you, and I mean it.
I’ve been following the Edward Snowed case with great interest, and I’ve written about what I consider to be his heroic actions in another letter. In the meantime, I’ve just finished two great books that I wanted to bring to your attention. (Unreadable)
“A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State” by John W. Whitehead has been a shocking read for me. Whitehead shows – all in one place – the civil liberties we’ve lost in only a decade. “Three Felonies A Day” by Harvey Silvergate shows how if the government really wants to get you, they will – with felony charges.
Health car (sic) is a major topic of debate in the national press, especially now that the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) is law. Health care is also a major topic of conversation and debate here at Loretto, although we prisoners don’t have much authority to change the status quo.
Loretto is considered to be a Level 2 medical facility; that is, it is supposed to be equipped with a medical unit that can handle prisoners with chronic problems like diabetes, emphysema, and other issues. In fact, the medical unit is well-equipped and has its own x-ray facilities, a dental clinic and a lab. There is an osteopath in charge and several physicians assistants (PA) from the U.S. Public Health Service on staff.
But that’s not to say that all is well in Loretto’s medical unit. Just before I arrived here, prisoner Cameron Douglas, the son of actor Michael Douglas, had a mishap while playing handball. He injured his leg and went to the medical unit, where he was told he had a sprained knee and was given ibuprofen. After suffering with intense pain for two weeks, complaining all the while, he finally could not get out of bed, and the warden ordered that he be taken to a local hospital. An x-ray showed that Douglas has a broken femur, a condition that, if left untreated, could lead to death. The hospital also found a large blood clot in the leg, as well as a broken finger. Douglas underwent surgery to repair the broken bones and to relieve the dangerous clot. The Douglas family has filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons which is still pending.
I’ve had my own personal experience with the medical unit. Two weeks after my arrival, I dislocated my left pinkie finger while exercising. I popped it back into place, but having broken bones in the past, I knew the finger was also broken, so I was over to Medical. “Sick call” appointments are only accepted between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., but I went directly to the evening pill line attendant and told him that I had an emergency. He wrapped the finger and told me to see the PA in the morning. I returned to Medical in the morning with my entire left hand swollen, my finger double in size, and told my PA that I was certain it was broken. No, the PA said, it’s just jammed. He put it in a splint, despite my request for an x-ray. He told me to come back in a week and he gave me some ibuprofen.
Even with the ibuprofen, the swelling and pain did not improve. Again I asked for an x-ray. Finally, 10 days after the injury, the PA agreed to it. The x-ray found that a tendon had snapped off at the center knuckle, pulling a chunk of bone off with it. Broken. Just like I had said. The PA rewrapped it in another splint and said he would make arrangements to send me to an orthopedic specialist nearby. In the meantime, he said, keep it wrapped.
Eight days later and 18 days after the injury, I heard that dreaded announcement: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office.” I walked to the office and was told that I was going for an outside medical consultation. First I was escorted to the medical unit, where I was strip searched and given brown pants, a brown tee-shirt, a pair of underwear, a pair of socks, and a pair of slippers. The corrections officer (CO) took my clothes and watch and put them in a plastic bad that he locked in the unit. I was then handcuffed and shackled around my ankles. A chain was placed around my waist, which connected to my handcuffs and my leg irons. Then a black steel box about the size of a computer hard drive was locked over the handcuffs so the lock could not be picked. (Remember, I’m a dangerous criminal.) If I had been in a camp, where I was supposed to be, an inmate driver would have simply dropped me off at the doctor’s office and then picked me up afterward. But a nameless, faceless bureaucrat in the Bureau of Prisons decided that I am a “threat to the public safety.”
Now completely shackled, the CO handed me a form and told me to sign it. It was a list of “rules” for the trip to the doctor, including that I promise not to escape and that I I do try to escape, I understand that I’ll be shot. One rule in particular caught my eye. It said that for the duration of the trip I was to call everybody “sir.” I said I wouldn’t sign. I wouldn’t try to escape, but respect is earned. I am old enough to be the CO’s father, yet he calls me “Kiriakou.” I said I would call him CO, but not “sir.” Well, he said, he simply wouldn’t take me to the doctor. Fine, I said. We stared at each other for a moment, then the CO said, “OK. Forget it.” So I took shackled baby steps to a waiting van with two COs in it, and they drove me to a nearby doctor’s office.
At the office, the doctor looked at my x-rays and examined my finger. “It’s broken,” he said. “It’s already started to heal …