We received another “Letter from Loretto” from our friend and imprisoned torture whistleblower John Kiriakou last week. In this most recent letter, John pens a heartfelt thank-you to supporters for their efforts on his behalf: for the May 9th Day of Action in Washington, DC and across the nation, as well as for sending his two kids, Max and Kate, to summer camp.

Before I get to the letter, I wanted to say that it has been a serious honor to work in support of John Kiriakou and his family. Like whistleblowers before and after him, John paid a heavy and unjust price for exposing our government’s torture program, and his incarceration continues to be a symbol of the many absurd injustices we face: the whistleblower, who never tortured anyone, pleas to a 30 month prison sentence after facing life in prison for 3 charges of espionage and meanwhile the torturers roam free without a shred of accountability. It’s maddening, but I’m proud to be part of a community that has answered the call, time and again, to support people like the Kiriakous, who sacrificed everything to stand up for values we all believe in.

I continue to be inspired by how much we can do with such a small staff, limited resources and a thoughtful, engaged community — especially when it comes to those who so rarely encounter compassion and support for taking risks and standing up for what’s right. When the media slandered Chelsea Manning for her disclosures and seemed to avoid reporting on her case at all costs, we came together to fund Kevin Gosztola’s reporting, right from Ft. Meade. He ended up being one of the only journalist to cover every day of her pretrial hearing and court martial. Just a few years back, when the media slandered Occupy Wall Street for taking on the MOTU and refused to report on their work building coalitions and organizing for change on the ground, our lovely little corner of the internet set up a fund that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in small donations to purchase and distribute union and american made supplies to those camped out across the nation. We helped them through the winter, stuck up for them during raids and evictions, and help promote the work of individual Occupy groups through our webinar series.

While I can’t say for sure why FDL has been the subject of these malicious attacks on our site, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with the fact that while most mainstream outlets treat whistleblowers with uncompromising disdain, we have them over for dinner and visit them in prison. While they mock protest movements and pray for their failure, we give them warm jackets and tents and offer them a place to tell the world about their work. I’m extremely proud of that, and obstacles such as these DDoS attacks only empower us to keep fighting. But I have to admit that it has, on more than one occasion, kept me up at night worrying that we might not be able to keep this up for much longer if the site keeps going down and the bills become unmanageable.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support and generosity over the years, and I hope you will consider helping us overcome this rough patch so we can focus on our work together. Please consider donating $10 to Firedoglake today to help us keep the lights on.


Hello again from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, PA. On May 9, a “Day of Action,” many dozens of you contacted your members of Congress, in Washington and in the districts, on my behalf. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and support. I don’t know if your hard work will result in additional halfway house time, but at the very least you’ve given me great hope, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I am especially indebted to my wonderful wife Heather; Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher, Brian Sonenstein and Kevin Gosztola, and my awesome cousin Kip Reese for organizing the event; and to Medea Benjamin and my friends at Code Pink.

One thing about which I am especially proud is that my case and the cause of banning torture forever crosses ideological lines, and that was proven on May 9. Torture is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is not exclusive to liberals or conservatives. It is an American issue, an issue about which we can never cease our work. It’s up to people like all of us to make sure that torture never rears its ugly head in American policy again. On May 9 we had members of peace groups working with members of the Tea Party. Occupy Wall Street protesters worked with supporters from Liberty University. You are a model for America! Stopping torture and ensuring Americans’ civil liberties is so much more important than esoteric ideological differences. Thank you for pulling together and for helping me.

We’re already seeing some results of your hard work. I’ve received strong support from Reps. Jim Moran of Virginia, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, and Carolyn Maloney of New York. I know in my heart that there will be more positive news to come. Brad Thacker of Lakewood, CO put my feelings into words when he wrote me last week saying,

“I know that together — the thousands of people who are lobbying for your freedom and the millions who are struggling for a just world–can prevail if we keep up the fight and never give up. In times like these it’s the collective struggle that gives me strength, the knowledge that I am not alone, that together we strive for a better country and a better world, where justice, truth and fairness prevail.”

I couldn’t have said it any better.

I also wanted to thank all of you who donated money to send my son Max and daughter Kate to summer camp. I can’t tell you how grateful Heather and I are. Max, who is nine, has struggled with my incarceration, and he has suffered from chronic nausea since I got here. It was heartbreaking when he whispered to me during a visit a few months ago, “Dad, are you a PRISONER here?” (I had told the kids that I had lost a fight with the FBI, so I had to go to Pennsylvania for two years to teach bad guys how to get their high school diplomas.) I had to say yes. Summer camp will undoubtedly distract him and make the time go a little more quickly.

Finally, I wanted to thank my friend, cellmate, and former colleague Dave for helping me get through the past 15 months. Dave became my best friend and biggest supporter here. He was a voice of reason during the several times when I’ve found myself on the brink of losing my temper, and he was a skilled first set of eyes for my Letters from Loretto. Dave was moved into solitary confinement three weeks ago after a dispute with a pedophile. That’s a story for another time. An administrator told me that I won’t see him again. The good news is that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that his District Court judge improperly manipulated his sentence. The sentence was thrown out, and he will again have his day in court. I wish him godspeed.

Thanks again for everything, friends. Sincerely,


Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.