Ex-CIA officer gets prison for leaking name

A federal judge rejected arguments that a former CIA officer was acting as a whistleblower on the agency's use of torture when the officer leaked a covert agent's name to a reporter, sentencing him to more than two years in prison.

A plea deal John Kiriakou made with prosecutors required the judge to impose a sentence of two and a half years. US District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she would have given him much more time if she could.

Kiriakou's supporters describe him as a whistleblower who exposed aspects of the CIA's use of torture against detained terrorists. Prosecutors said his claim was laughable, given that the first public statements he made largely defended the CIA's use of water-boarding.

Kiriakou's 2007 interviews about the interrogations of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah were among the first by a CIA insider confirming reports that several detainees had been water-boarded.

The 48-year-old pleaded guilty last year to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. No one had been convicted under the law in 27 years.

Absent the plea deal, federal sentencing guidelines would have called for a prison term of at least eight years, which the judge said she would have imposed.

She said she understood the government's desire to secure a deal, given the difficulties in holding a public trial for national security cases that invariably delve into classified evidence.

Kiriakou was an intelligence officer with the CIA from 1990 until 2004.

In 2002, he played a key role in the agency's capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan. Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded by government interrogators, revealed information that exposed Khalid Sheikh Mohamed as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Accounts conflict, though, over whether the water-boarding was helpful in gleaning intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, who was also interrogated conventionally.

Kiriakou, who did not participate in the water-boarding, expressed ambivalence in interviews about water-boarding, but he ultimately declared it was torture.

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