Former CIA Agent Reveals Plans To Write About Prison Pals From Philadelphia Mafia

Note: I haven't been blogging much in the past week. Got some very bad news about an old friend. He married his high school sweetheart and has a daughter in college -- and one night about a week and a half ago he suddenly took a stroke and collapsed. Basically, he's now permanently disabled and unable to work ever again. He was seemingly in perfect physical health too -- right up until he collapsed.... 

John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer.

The False Claims Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, during the Civil War.

Greedy contractors bent on filling their pockets by defrauding the government in wartime was the stimulus. Since criminals generally don't like to get caught, the thinking went, there should be encouragement for those who have knowledge of fraudulent activity to come forward. The False Claims Act -- which allows for the filing of Whistleblower or Qui Tam lawsuits -- provides a way for private citizens to share in the recovery of damages essentially.

One hundred years later, Congress strengthened the act by upping the amounts for damages and penalties. They also added more protections for the whistleblower and gave them a bigger cut from the proceeds.

But it turns out not all Americans can benefit from these statutes. In fact, certain Americans can actually be majorly screwed in the ass for blowing whistles. CIA agents, for example, may be tried for espionage for whistleblowing.

John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism officer (who also served as a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) served just shy of two years in prison for blowing the whistle on the Bush administration's torture program. As per the BOP, he got out in May 2015. (He's no raging lefty either -- it was Barack Obama who put his ass in jail, in fact. New York Times reporter Scott Shane referenced Kiriakou when he told NPR that Obama's prosecutions of journalism-related leaking were having a chilling effect on coverage of national security issues.)

Kiriakou was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. He was actually prosecuted for disclosing the identity of a fellow CIA officer and was the first CIA officer to be convicted for passing classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013, until February 3, 2015, at the low-security Federal correctional facility near Loretto, Pennsylvania, in general population.

Kiriakou was recently making the media rounds to discuss his latest literary effort, Doing Time Like a Spy, which details how his specialized career prepared him for time in stir.

In one recent interview he hyped the topic of another book he is planning to write, and that one has to do with the Philadelphia Mafia.

He was quoted telling an interviewer: "I've made a couple of good friends in prison, and they are or were connected to an organized crime family in Philadelphia. There’s an important story to be told about the intersection of organized crime, city hall, methamphetamine production, and motor gangs in Philadelphia, and I’d like to tell it,” he said.

“Speaking out against torture has become a driving force in my life .... If someone wants to talk about these issues, I am happy to come to them and engage in conversation,” Kiriakou said last year.

In Doing Time Like a Spy, Kiriakou writes, "I very quickly came to the conclusion that the prison system is broken, irreparably broken,” he said.

He cited the use of solitary confinement, the lack of medical treatment for mental illness, the refusal to allocate sufficient funds to medical care and food, and the overcrowding of facilities as issues that both shaped his experience in Loretto and continue to plague prisons across the country.

So which Philly wiseguys were at the low-security Federal correctional facility near Loretto, Pennsylvania in 2013 - 2015?

While on the topic of terrorism, thought I'd mention I've been reading Seymour Hersh's memoir, Reporter.

Ever hear of the Mỹ Lai Massacre, the Vietnam War mass murder of unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops in Sơn Tịnh District, South Vietnam, in March 1968? Between 347 and 504 unarmed people were massacred by U.S. Army soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped, their bodies mutilated. Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.

Without Hersh, Mỹ Lai  would've remained an unknown part of the war. 

Hersh, my idol, won access to such high level top secret information about certain events that he found himself sometimes unable to publish his journalism -- lest he’d be putting his sources in direct jeopardy. The White House would've wasted no time in finding them based on their information. Hersh, who helped Woodward and Burnstein break Watergate stories, made himself a lifelong enemy of men like former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hersh includes fascinating, though quite unsettling, observations near the end of the book. Think you know what happened on 9/11? The 19 hijackers who crashed the planes? (Hersh writes, "They were the equivalent .... of a pickup basketball team that made it to the Final Four or a weekend soccer team that got to the World Cup.")

And did Osama bin Laden send them here etc.? Based on Hersh, it's possible Bin Laden had nothing to do with them. And here's something else. We were told about how Osama was finally blown away -- in April 2011, President Obama ordered a covert operation to kill or capture bin Laden, and on May 2, 2011, the White House announced that U.S. Navy SEALs had successfully carried out the operation, killing him in an Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.

At the time of the assassination, Bin Laden may have been Pakistan's prisoner, locked within a nondescript compound. His death may have resulted from secret negotiations at the highest levels of the U.S. and Pakistan governments, meaning fish in a barrel .... Hersh mentions these details somewhat cryptically, and he tosses them out quickly in the final pages of the memoir. He notes only that his sources were at the highest levels of our intelligence services.

Did Hersh "bury" the information, soft pedal it to mute potential repercussions? You ask me, I'd say yes, that's exactly what he did....