The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) holds an air of intrigue and mystery. Perhaps what first comes to mind is that of a clandestine officer sent abroad, working undercover on a top secret mission.
For the last several years, John Kiriakou has publicly shed some light on the enigmatic agency; he was, after all, a CIA agent from 1990 to 2004. On Monday Kiriakou was charged for revealing covert information. His attorney, Plato Cacheris, stated his client was going to plead not guilty. “Friends and former colleagues say that Mr. Kiriakou is determined to fight the case,” wrote Charlie Savage of The New York Times.
Kiriakou made major headlines after doing an interview on ABC in 2007. He revealed that the CIA used waterboarding (a torture technique where a prisoner is strapped to a board and water is poured over his face while his mouth is covered to simulate drowning) on a member of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah.
In 2002, Kiriakou, while in charge of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, captured Zubayah in a Faisalabad home. Zubayah was thought to have been Al Qaeda’s third top leader. During the 2007 broadcast, Kiriakou stated that the captive was only waterboarded for 30-35 seconds before revealing relevant information, suggesting the controversial form of torture was effective and justified.
Since then, it came out that much of what Kiriakou shared on the ABC broadcast was unreliable. In 2009, a report disclosed that Zubayah had been waterboarded 83 times and did not share any critical intelligence that led to saving lives.
But this week’s charges against Kiriakou are related to another form of breaching secrecy. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern Illinois, the counts include allegedly revealing the identity of a clandestine CIA officer, revealing national defense intelligence to unauthorized individuals (i.e. news reporters) and lying to the CIA’s Publications Review Board. The latter count is regarding his memoir, The Reluctant Spy (2010), where Kiriakou allegedly told the Board that he was going to include elements of fiction instead of revealing actual events from his time with the CIA.
Kiriakou obviously had a successful career with the Central Intelligence Agency, at least for a time, as he was an agent for 14 years, working as an analyst, overseas operations officer and director of counterterrorism operations. He attended George Washington University where he majored in Middle Eastern Studies. He also learned Arabic.
It is very competitive to gain employment with the CIA. It takes hard work, keen intelligence and optimal physical and mental health. This federal agency offers a range of positions from clandestine service positions and analysts to language professionals and IT technicians. Depending on which profession you seek, consider completing a homeland security degree, a counterterrorism degree, a specific language or cultural degree, a criminal justice degree, a cyber security degree, a law enforcement degree or an information security degree.