If you want to avoid press coverage, you could do worse than releasing information at 4:59 PM on a Thursday just before a holiday weekend. That’s precisely what the White House did last week in announcing a prosecution against John C. Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst, senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the country’s most prominent whistleblower against waterboarding. He has been charged with five criminal counts of espionage by a White House with a growing track record of going after whistleblowers: whereas other presidents before Obama have cited the Espionage Act in prosecutions no more than three times, this will be the sixth such prosecution brought by the Obama administration.
His indictment, filed last Tuesday, also carries another disturbing distinction: except for Kiriakou, no one in the Bush administration has been held criminally liable in relation to torture or waterboarding. But for blowing the whistle on a program that, according to a recently declassified memo, was considered illegal by the State Dept., Kiriakou faces a potential 20 years behind bars.