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Letters: John Kiriakou on Leon Panetta

March 13, 2014

Re "Why give Panetta a pass?," Opinion, March 9

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou is in federal prison because he broke the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, when he went far beyond the whistle-blowing he states he engaged in by disclosing covert operatives' names.

The Espionage Act of 1950, which he says former CIA Director Leon Panetta should be punished for supposedly violating, does not adequately cover such crimes, hence the 1982 act was passed by Congress. Panetta did not break either law, for as Kiriakou admits, Panetta was not alerted beforehand that a non-cleared person, "Zero Dark Thirty" screenwriter Mark Boal, was in the group of agency employees at CIA headquarters that Panetta was addressing.

The 1982 act requires intent to reveal covert names to people not authorized to receive them, an intent Panetta did not have, but which Kiriakou pleaded guilty to.

Kiriakou was correctly sentenced to 30 months in prison for violating the 1982 law.

Clarence Jacobson

Laguna Beach

Kiriakou's plight offers a mirror on the corrupting influence of the so-called national security state.

While it's OK to give a pass to presidents, vice presidents and CIA directors, lowly underlings like Kiriakou are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. While the perpetrators (among whom I include George W. Bush and Dick Cheney) who violated international law by ordering water boarding go free, whistle-blower Kiriakou is charged for outing the perps.

Inevitably, this is what happens when a republic embraces imperial ambitions. Democracy and empire are mutually exclusive — one must prevail in the long term. America, which will it be?

Bob Teigan

Santa Susana


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