It's been over four years since Barack Obama -- then a presidential candidate -- walked into a 12th-floor conference room at 400 North Broad Street and, in response to my question, said that if he were president the Justice Department would review torture-related crimes and act accordingly. A lot happens in 57 months, but finally someone is going up the river.
The guy who blew the whistle:
[BEGIN EXCERPT] Mr. Kiriakou, 48, earned numerous commendations in nearly 15 years at the C.I.A., some of which were spent undercover overseas chasing Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He led the team in 2002 that found Abu Zubaydah, a terrorist logistics specialist for Al Qaeda, and other militants whose capture in Pakistan was hailed as a notable victory after the Sept. 11 attacks.
He got mixed reviews at the agency, which he left in 2004 for a consulting job. Some praised his skills, first as an analyst and then as an overseas operative; others considered him a loose cannon.
Mr. Kiriakou first stumbled into the public limelight by speaking out about waterboarding on television in 2007, quickly becoming a source for national security journalists, including this reporter, who turned up in Mr. Kiriakou’s indictment last year as Journalist B. When he gave the covert officer’s name to the freelancer, he said, he was simply trying to help a writer find a potential source and had no intention or expectation that the name would ever become public. In fact, it did not surface publicly until long after Mr. Kiriakou was charged.
He is remorseful, up to a point. “I should never have provided the name,” he said on Friday in the latest of a series of interviews. “I regret doing it, and I never will do it again.” [END EXCERPT]
So Kiriakou -- father of an adorable little girl (top) -- is going away for 30 months; he admits a mistake, but it also seems pretty inconsequential. The bottom line, if you're keeping score, is that the Obama administration is currently prosecuting at least six -- count 'em, six! -- whistleblowers, something that Richard Nixon (he of the White House plumbers) or any other less felonious president never attempted. This despite the fact that whistleblowing is one of the more noble -- albeit risky -- First Amendment acts that we have in this Republic.
Torture, on the other hand, remains unpunished -- despite the huge blemish on America's moral standing in the globe, not to mention its unhelpful effect on the fight to prevent future terrorism. As far as I know, the Obama administration and its Justice Department was never all that serious about Obama's promise to the Daily News that day in April 2008, once all the liberal Democrat primary ballots had been counted. But then, high-ranking public officials lying to the press and the public doesn't have any long-term consequences.
(New York Times photo by Christaan Felber.)