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Leak Hypocrisy: CIA Employee, Contractor Who Committed Security Breaches Weren’t Prosecuted

The CIA was relentless in their pursuit of CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who confirmed the name of an undercover operative to a reporter and was successfully prosecuted and jailed by the Justice Department. However, at least one CIA employee and one CIA contractor committed similar breaches of classified information and were not put on trial by the United States government.

VICE News journalist Jason Leopold obtained documents from the Office of the Inspector General at the CIA, which show the OIG completed 111 investigations of alleged crimes between January 2013 and 2014.

The Justice Department, according to Leopold, “declined to prosecute a case in lieu of CIA administrative action involving a CIA Special Activities Staff employee who ‘misused government systems by conducting unauthorized, non-official searches on sensitive Agency databases.’ The employee was warned “on more than one occasion to cease [the] behavior but [the employee] continued to conduct unauthorized searches.'”

“A CIA personnel evaluation review board recommended the employee be stripped of his or her security clearance and fired. The employee was allowed to resign,” Leopold reported.

One former CIA contractor was accused of disclosing classified information in October 2012. The breach was discovered when the CIA’s Office of Security notified the OIG the contractor had a hard drive, which contained top-secret documents.

“Numerous technical documents related to Agency systems were found on [redacted] laptop,” according to the OIG documents.

As detailed by Leopold, “The discovery was made during a separate investigation into claims the contractor was in possession of child pornography. The CIA’s Counterintelligence Center and the FBI conducted a joint investigation. The OIG documents said the contractor pleaded guilty to a crime (the nature of which was redacted), received a sentence (also redacted), and registered as a sex offender.”

In other words, the former CIA contractor was not prosecuted for the security breach. The government only went after him for possessing child pornography.

Kiriakou was sentenced in January 2013 to serve a 30 month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. It was the culmination of retaliation which Kiriakou maintained occurred because he confirmed President George W. Bush’s administration was waterboarding detainees, and it was official government policy to use torture in interrogations.

One “highly placed U.S. official” leaked classified information “to [redacted] Army.”

CIA director David Petraeus, who later leaked “black books” that included the names of covert agents to his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he had an affair, said of Kiriakou’s sentence, “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”

Oaths apparently did not matter in Petraeus’ case because he was only sentenced to probation and fined. He served no jail time. In the cases of the contractor, employee and highly placed U.S. official, they did not go to jail either.

Jesselyn Radack, who represented Kiriakou and is the national security and human rights director for the Whistleblower and Source Protection Project at ExposeFacts, reacted to further revelations of leak hypocrisy by the CIA and Justice Department.

“These documents make clear that the worst crime a CIA officer can commit is not a crime at all: it’s telling the truth about CIA misconduct,” Radack declared. “The CIA treated conducting unauthorized searches of CIA databases and keeping classified information on a personal hard drive with kid gloves, while my client, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was aggressively criminally prosecuted and served jail time for discussing a name that was never made public.”

“Former CIA officer Jeffery Sterling was prosecuted and convicted on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence,” Radack added. (Sterling is serving a three and a half-year prison sentence in a prison in Littleton, Colorado, for leaking details of a top-secret CIA operation in Iran to New York Times reporter James Risen, even though prosecutors really never presented evidence tying him to the leak.)

“The difference between them and the subjects of the IG investigations is that Sterling and Kiriakou are whistleblowers,” Radack concluded. “Jason Leopold deserves credit for uncovering yet another card in the government’s deck of leak hypocrisy.”

Leopold’s report, in addition to security breaches, highlighted employees and contractors investigated for fraud, embezzlement, domestic violence, war crime, human trafficking, war crimes, abusing a detainee, whistleblower retaliation, selling night vision goggles on eBay, and using government computers to buy steroids.

Neither of these individuals were prosecuted. It was possible for the government to use discretion and administrative disciplinary measures were deemed to be sufficient or were not employed at all.

As Kiriakou wrote on his Facebook, “And I’M the one they prosecute.”

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."