If there was not reason enough already to commute the sentence of CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, then surely CIA heir apparent Michael Vickers leaking the name of an undercover U.S. Special Operations Command officer--to Hollywood filmmakers--should be it.
The blatant hypocrisy of the war on whistleblowers like my clients Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou--while the government leaks high-level sources and methods like a sieve--is infuriating. But to have the Defense Department's top civilian military intelligence official, Michael Vickers, leak the name of a U.S. Special Operations Command officer with impunity, just to jazz up a propagandist movie, is abhorrent.
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou pleaded guilty to giving the name of a CIA officer involved in the torture and rendition program to an investigator for Gitmo detainees' defense lawyers.
But now it turns out the the Pentagon Inspector General (IG) concluded that Vickers--Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence--1) leaked classified information to the makers of agitprop film Zero Dark Thirty; 2) the leak was serious enough for the IG to refer it to the Justice Department, and 3) the Justice Department has not launched a criminal prosecution.
This is the height of hypocrisy. Kiriakou revealed that torture was a CIA program, not a pastime; he called waterboarding torture; and he said it was wrong. These disclosures are obviously of tremendous public value. Vicker's leak was to embellish a controversial movie that had already received unprecedented White House and CIA assistance (the subject of a number of other blogs.)
The identity of special forces officers are usually classified--and we know for certain the ones conducting the bin Laden raid were classified (see the elaborate 60 Minutes disguise for one who explained how the real raid differed from what we were told publicly)--and disclosing such violates the rarely-used Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Vickers disclosure was in the interest not of the public, but of pimping a movie. But, while it is a miracle that Vickers was criminally referred at all, he certainly won't be prosecuted. At most, his disclosure may tank his chances of being the next CIA director.
This manifest injustice should be corrected. Do I think Vickers should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act--as have been whistleblowers Shamai Leibowitz, Thomas Drake, Jeffrey Sterling, Steven Kim, and Bradley Manning? No. I think only actual spies should be prosecuted under this law, and none of these people are enemies of the state--the most damning charge that can be leveled against an American. But I do think that the Justice Department should drop this sentence (which will not be formally entered until January 25, 2013), or Obama should immediately commute it. If you agree, please sign the petition for commutation, a request that a former Secretary of State and other top CIA officers are supporting.