CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Is Counting Down the Days Until His Release
This weekend I made another visit to the federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania, where CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is imprisoned. He was in good spirits and had begun to count down the days until he is released from Loretto to a halfway house in southeastern Washington, DC.
It is about a three hour drive to get to the prison. On this trip, I was joined by Firedoglake’s campaign director, Brian Sonenstein.
We were delayed in our travel when the back right tire of our rental car blew out just south of Hagerstown, Maryland. We were only about 45 minutes into our trip.
There was a question of whether we would make it to even see Kiriakou. Visiting hours only last until 2:15 pm. But a man from a local roadside service company was sent by Budget to come help, and we were back on the road in about an hour.
At about 1 pm, we pulled into the parking lot of Federal Correctional Institution Loretto. Both of us rushed inside and filled out the information necessary to be cleared for access as visitors, and we discovered that the Bureau of Prisons had incorporated an Ebola questionnaire into this process.
Neither of us had been to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or any other part of western Africa and neither of us were showing symptoms that could conceivably be construed as Ebola. Also, if we had a fever, muscle pain, sore throat or headache, we certainly would not have been making this trek on Sunday. (Who does the Bureau of Prisons think would visit with Ebola and risk infecting family or friends? Ebola terrorists?)
We were escorted and made it into the visitors room about 1:15. The prison guards told us that we just made the cutoff and were the last people to be allowed in today.
Kiriakou was very happy to see us. He sat down and immediately talked about how he had started to count the days until he will be released from Loretto.
He has 86 days. Once he leaves, he will go to a halfway house that he said is located in southeastern DC. Recently, there had been a murder in this halfway house. There is a problem with drug dealing at the halfway house. Those inside are not allowed to look out the windows because they might be thrown drugs.
Kiriakou did not know if the authorities running the halfway house would let him go home to his family immediately after he arrived there or if he would have to remain at the halfway house. Obviously, he wants to be back in his home as soon as he possibly can.
He has been making an effort to exercise nearly every day. He was very upset recently when he was about to go out into the prison yard to exercise and a sudden snow storm shut down the yard.
Last year, around this time, the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas were coming really had him down. He said he’s dealing with not being with his family during the holidays a lot better this year.
One of the ways he gauges the time he has left is by counting the number of visits by his wife and children that he has left. They come visit every four weeks. He said there are about two visits left before he is picked up and returns to DC.
He is reading Chasing Shadows by Ken Hughes and loves it. He plans to read Pay Any Price by James Risen next.
Kiriakou expressed how truly grateful he is for all the support that people in the Firedoglake community and other groups like CODEPINK have shown him.
Part of his time in prison has been spent thinking about what to do once he gets out of jail to show his appreciation for the generosity and love everyone has shown him and his family.