CIA whistleblower to visit North Carolina

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was prosecuted by the Obama administration under the first world war-era Espionage Act. Photograph by Cliff Owen/AP in the Guardian.

The only ex-CIA officer to suffer consequences for the U.S. torture program comes to North Carolina Oct. 27-29, 2015.

John Kiriakou is a former high-ranking CIA counter-terrorism officer and the first U.S. official to confirm the CIA was torturing its detainees by waterboarding them. As a whistleblower, Mr. Kiriakou served nearly two years in a Federal correctional facility.   Read more of Mr. Kiriakou’s story at his website, or here:   Kiriakou Bio

In April 2015, Mr. Kiriakou exposed the controversy within the CIA over the U.S.’ secret detention and rendition to torture in Syria of Canadian citizen Maher Arar. In September, it was announced that Canadian authorities have brought criminal charges against a Syrian official for Mr. Arar’s torture.

Later this fall, Mr. Kiriakou will receive the prestigious First Amendment Award from PEN Center USA, the writers organization. It is an honor to have this patriotic American in North Carolina, where he will discuss accountability for CIA torture in the wake of the Senate torture report.  His schedule so far:

Tues., Oct. 27, 2015

  • Noon:  The State of Things, WUNC
  • 2:00 pm talk, Great Hall, North Carolina Central University Law School, Turner Law Bldg, 640 Nelson Street, Durham. Free and open to the public; more info at 919-599-1963.
  • 7:15 pm talk- “Keeping Government Honest: Whistleblowers, Torture, and America’s War on Terror.”Freedom Forum Room, 2nd floor of Carroll Hall, School of Media & Journalism, UNC-Chapel Hill. Includes “fireside” interview by David Crabtree, award-winning anchor & reporter, WRAL-TV. Sponsors: UNC School of Law Human Rights Policy Lab; Center for Media Law and Policy; Peace, War, and Defense; Center for Global Initiatives; and NC Stop Torture Now. Free and open to the public.

Wed., Oct. 28, 2015

  • Luncheon with informal discussion, gather at 11:50 a.m., followed by 1:00 pm talk; both events in Founders Hall, Guilford College, Greensboro. Sponsor: Friends Center.
  • 7:00 pm talk, “Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture,” at Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave., Fayetteville.  Sponsor: Quaker House, 910-323-3912.

Thurs., Oct. 29, 2015

  • 1:10-2:10 pm talk- NCSU Peace & Justice Forum, Talley Student Union, Room 3285, NCSU. Sponsor: Presbyterian Campus Ministry of Raleigh. All welcome.
  • 7:00 pm talk, “The American Legacy of Torture,” NCSU, Park Shops 210 (2310 Stinson Drive, Raleigh). Sponsors: NCSU Political Science Department; School of Public & International Affairs (SPIA); University Scholars; Caldwell Fellows; and NC Stop Torture Now. Event is free and open to the public.

Mr. Kiriakou’s tour is hosted by North Carolina Stop Torture Now and co-sponsored by Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI) and Balance and Accuracy in Journalism.

Flyer: John Kiriakou speaking engagements, Oct 27-29

Quaker House John Kiriakou flyer


February 6, 2015:  Call-In to Sen. Richard Burr: Release the Full Torture Report Now!

Days after U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) took the helm as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee early this year, he moved to bury his committee’s 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program.

In his first major act as the nation’s top watchdog over the spy agency, Burr chose to protect the CIA by demanding that the White House return every copy of the full report shared with the executive branch by the previous Congress.

Tell Sen. Burr to stop hiding the truth from us.  The people of North Carolina and the U.S. want an Intelligence Chair who will serve the public interest, not one who covers up for spy agencies.

The summary of the Senate report revealed appalling details of the U.S. government’s systematic use of torture.  It catalogued numerous grave and plainly illegal abuses, many of which were authorized by the highest officials in the George W. Bush administration.  It also described the CIA’s evasions and misrepresentations about its torture program to Congress, the White House, the media, and the American public.

However, the 525-page summary does not contain the entire story of CIA torture. The full 6,900-page report may shed light on the role of front companies and contractors in the torture program – for example, Aero Contractors, which provided aircraft and flight crews to launch rendition flights from a state-owned facility in Kinston, N.C. and the company’s headquarters in Johnston County, N.C.

As an elected official of the state, Sen. Burr has a particular responsibility to let the people of North Carolina know what crimes were conducted in their name.

Contact Sen. Burr on Feb. 6!

Send an email here or call him at:

Winston-Salem — Phone: (800) 685-8916 or (336) 631-5125

Washington, DC — Phone: (202) 224-3154

  • The full 6,900-page Senate torture report and the CIA’s own internal review of the torture program (the so-called “Panetta Review”) must be released promptly.
  • Sen. Burr must call for a complete accounting of the other victims of torture and rendition who are not mentioned in the 525-page summary.
  • North Carolina citizens must have complete information about the state’s role in abetting torture by hosting CIA flights, including the names of all victims on these flights.
  • The U.S. must respect its obligations under international law to ensure accountability for torture.  International law requires governments to carry out independent and impartial investigations, and that anyone found responsible is brought to justice.

Senator Burr: More Concerned About President George W. Bush’s Legacy than National Security?


A letter from North Carolina Stop Torture Now coordinator Christina Cowger in the Jan. 23 edition of The Washington Post questions Senator Burr’s respect for his own constituents. Other national media reporting casts doubt on his fitness to lead the committee charged with overseeing the CIA.

Even commentators with the unabashedly conservative Fox News outlet are openly critical of attempts to bury the findings of the Senate torture report and argue that: “In a free society in which the government works for us, we have a right to know what it is doing in our names, and we have a reasonable expectation that the laws the government enforces against us it will enforce against itself. “

Locally, The News & Observer, said that – even in the first days as chair of the oversight committee – Burr “… signals that his time in this important chairmanship will be stridently partisan.

Cowger’s letter cites recent reports of Sen. Burr’s contention that: “When terrorists attack … we can interrogate Guantánamo captives to gain insight into the plot … “ as his rationale for backing legislation that aims to block closure of the prison camp.

The last captive arrived to Guantánamo in 2008. What information about current plots could any detainee offer today? Does Burr really hope to keep the camp open so it can be available to house more men and — perhaps — women and children scooped up by the United States’ still misguided and unrepentant spy agency?

Fewer than two weeks after his dubious assertion about Guantánamo, Sen. Burr sought to reclaim copies of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s torture report from the White House. Some analysts suggest the move is a thinly veiled effort to prevent Americans fromever coming to terms with what torture survivor Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called: ” … a right – indeed … responsibility – to know what was done in their name; how these practices did or did not serve our interests; and how they comported with our most important values.”

Both as a hub for the aircraft and flight crews that delivered innocent men to torture chambers and as Sen. Burr’s constituents, North Carolinians have a special responsibility to confront these injustices and reach out to offer apology and restorative justice to victims, survivors and their families.

Is Sen. Burr also hoping to let the Obama White House off the hook for its failure to investigate the post-9/11 torture program? How does that serve our nation, let alone his party?

Please take a moment to write Senator Burr and ask a simple question: “If you don’t trust your constituents, maybe you don’t trust democracy?”