A new US bill would make it illegal to reveal the identity of a covert agent, even after their retirement or death, if it becomes law. Former CIA officer, and whistleblower, John Kiriakou told reporters that it will protect wrongdoers.
The 2020 Intelligence Authorization bill passed the US House of Representatives last week, and will become law once agreed upon by the House and Senate.
House passes the Intelligence Authorization bill expanding protection for covert agents and requiring new intelligence reports on foreign influence operations. https://t.co/1nP8JYLj6s
— Julian E. Barnes (@julianbarnes) July 17, 2019
Aside from funding the US’ intelligence agencies for the forthcoming year, a provision in the act would dramatically expand a 1982 law that makes it a criminal offense to disclose the identities of covert officers.
Whereas the 1982 law protected agents who had served abroad in the preceding five years, the new provision would apply to anyone working in a classified position with the agencies, even after their retirement or death.
The provision’s language was crafted by the CIA, who claim it necessary to protect agents from foreign adversaries.
“The only reason the CIA wants this thing on the books is to protect those CIA officers who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Kiriakou told reporters in an interview.
As the existing law was not used to prosecute the CIA leadership who leaked the identities of their officers before (like former director David Petraeus, who divulged classified information to his extramarital girlfriend), Kiriakou said that it will more likely be used to protect headquarters-based officials “who were instrumental in creating and implementing the torture program, the illegal rendition program, and the secret prison program, nothing more.”
The law, Kiriakou continued, would prevent congressional oversight of CIA figures like current director Gina Haspel, who prior to heading the agency worked undercover for three decades, running a secret prison abroad, and heading the CIA’s office at Guantanamo Bay.
“With this new law it would be illegal for us to even have this conversation. We wouldn’t even be able to talk about Gina Haspel,” he said.
A host of activist groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Coalition Against Censorship, have come out against the bill in recent days.
In a letter to congressional leaders, 29 organizations urged lawmakers to remove the CIA’s provision, arguing it will impede oversight, “weaken accountability, hinder public access to information and create a major chilling effect on journalists and public interest organizations.”
Kiriakou went on to blast the “deep state” Democrats who authored the bill, and accused the agency of turning supposed overseers into “cheerleaders”.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk