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Letter From FCI Loretto
May 30, 2013 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou (previously) is serving a 30 month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and has sent a letter describing his experiences there.

Kiriakou is in prison for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. He was "the first official within the U.S. government to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, which he described as torture" (wikipedia). His good-humored letter describes his treatment by corrections officers and the process of settling in to prison life:
My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.
posted by benito.strauss (42 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
(via Charlie Pierce)
posted by benito.strauss at 2:05 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I am ever in federal prison and write you a letter about how I am magically getting along with all of the vicious prison gangs, please don't publish it. Maybe I am missing something, but that seems ill advised.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:07 PM on May 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, it's described as:
Below is a letter he recently sent his attorney Jesselyn Radack, who shared it (with John’s permission) with Firedoglake based on a pre-existing arrangement.
so I'm pretty sure he's aware that it will be published. If there's any foolishness in this, it sounds like he's a knowing participant.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The guy's no saint, but thank God for the whistleblowing on waterboarding.
posted by resurrexit at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.

I don't know what I make of this story in real life yet, but I want to watch the HBO dramatization.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't know what I make of this story in real life yet, but I want to watch the HBO dramatization.

He's doing the time...of his life.
posted by clockzero at 2:17 PM on May 30, 2013 [38 favorites]


Hopefully the main character does not get his head chopped off at the end of the first season.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guy's no saint, but thank God for the whistleblowing on waterboarding.
posted by resurrexit at 2:15 PM on May 30 [+] [!]


Am I missing something? I read his letter and Wikipedia page, and don't understand what makes you go out of your way to qualify that this guy is no saint. I mean, yes, he is not a saint in that he does not have some sort of divine moral perfection that you might think someone like Diogenes or the Desert Fathers had, but I'm assuming your intentions weren't so trivial.

He seems like a fun(ny) guy.
posted by SollosQ at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Feloniousmonk: Could you elaborate? What's his risk here?
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:36 PM on May 30, 2013


Could you elaborate? What's his risk here?

The Ayrian Brotherhood generally take a dim view of white people helping black prisoners, to pick one example. Rinse and repeat.
posted by jaduncan at 2:46 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Ayrian Brotherhood generally take a dim view of white people helping black prisoners, to pick one example. Rinse and repeat.

I'll admit I know squat about prison (and what I'm learning from it from this letter isn't exactly *surprising* me, but its making my blood boil anyhow: prison officials trying to instigate fights? rejecting and insulting him when he volunteered to teach a GED class? intentionally and gratuitously butchering his name and then insulting him and tossing his cell because the guard can't pronounce his name?), but I'm guessing that if the Aryan Brotherhood is going to get upset about his helping black prisoners they're going to learn about it by noticing him helping black prisoners, not by his writing a letter about it which is published on firedoglake.
posted by Reverend John at 3:23 PM on May 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I read that paragraph as Kiriakou injecting some humor into his prison story and didn't get the impression the gangs were the least bit dangerous. Three paragraphs before that, he describes the Aryans "self-important hillbillies". I would assume racial gangs aren't a problem in federal prisons like they can be in state.
posted by riruro at 3:23 PM on May 30, 2013


The Ayrian Brotherhood generally take a dim view of white people helping black prisoners, to pick one example.

But they're not real Aryans, they're self-important hillbillies!

It sucks that the one person who is in jail because the US tortured people is THIS guy.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:24 PM on May 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


i'd be more concerned about his depiction of the guards throughout the letter... from his description, it seems as though they pose a much bigger threat to his wellbeing
posted by lulz at 3:37 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I did not like that he disparaged hillbillies. It is a shame that he's in prison. As prison stories go, this one is almost _upbeat_.
posted by maggieb at 3:39 PM on May 30, 2013


oops ("it's a shame" is hillbillian for "it's not good" or "it's unfair" not an embarrassment)
posted by maggieb at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2013


("it's a shame" is hillbillian for "it's not good" or "it's unfair" not an embarrassment)

I think urban types might also be familiar with this usage, actually, given that it's the standard meaning of the expression.
posted by clockzero at 3:47 PM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Four tables for pedos? Damn, that's a lotta pedos.
posted by Sternmeyer at 3:54 PM on May 30, 2013


The Ayrian Brotherhood generally take a dim view of white people helping black prisoners, to pick one example. Rinse and repeat.

He's in a minimum security prison; he isn't with violent offenders.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:04 PM on May 30, 2013


"I didn't know what to do so I took a nap."

He doesn't sound to be very easily intimidated. I guess that's why he's there.
posted by snsranch at 4:06 PM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Something tells me he might get another shakedown after that got published. Yeesh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:12 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would assume racial gangs aren't a problem in federal prisons like they can be in state.

What are the differences between federal and state prisons? Genuinely curious. I'm thinking something having to do with funding? Or are more state prisons privatized?
posted by triggerfinger at 4:45 PM on May 30, 2013


["This is Obama's fault" derail excised, back to prison talk...]
posted by mathowie at 4:50 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm really curious to know how many more of the 1,369 men at this facility are inside for bullshit charges.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:57 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


We should all send him a letter (in code).

It does sound like one of the hardest things in prison would be holding back the snark.
posted by sammyo at 5:01 PM on May 30, 2013


Actually, I like writing letters. I'm going to write him one.
posted by dejah420 at 5:24 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well.

That's pretty funny. God knows it's not the first time a Company man (not that Kiriakou is what you'd call a paid-up member anymore, but evidently old habits die hard) has rubbed shoulders with members of that particular Italian subculture. I'd never thought of it before, but I suppose that mafiosi and CIA guys do hate the FBI about an equal amount. It would be a powerful social lubricant, wouldn't it?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I told him I could probably kill him with my thumb. Otherwise, things are good. Couple of drug dealers and enforcers, but they are pretty decent guys. Send SPAM, and hot sauce. Tell my wife if they send me to the hole, okay?

Wow. This guy writes a good letter.
posted by mule98J at 6:18 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


People from Cleveland will be able to ID one of his cellmates as Frank Russo, a former county auditor who was insanely crooked and who was busted by the FBI a few years ago and sent to prison last year.

I wonder if they bonded over talking shit about the FBI.
posted by mcmile at 6:37 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting that he decided to sit with Aryans rather than pedophiles. There are some moral choices it's hard to imagine you would need to make.
posted by layceepee at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm really curious to know how many more of the 1,369 men at this facility are inside for bullshit charges.


The answer to that is however many are in there for non-violent drug offenses.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:28 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd rather piss off a pedophile than an Aryan.
posted by desjardins at 8:56 PM on May 30, 2013


Hey! I got deleted for mocking religion (which I did... guilty as charged) so I guess I am trying to be sensitive to tone and aware that Mefites come here from the world over. Prisoners and prison problems bother me. I am surrounded by Supermaxes filled with prisoners from everywhere. CO abuse is not a joke. I was not being condescending when I explained my choice of phrase; I was trying to be clear.
posted by maggieb at 11:28 PM on May 30, 2013


Damn, that's a lotta pedos.

The collective noun is a 'lolita' of pedos.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:08 AM on May 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


Interesting to compare with this recent post.
posted by TedW at 6:46 AM on May 31, 2013


Isn't it the case that most pedophilia, um, extra-curricular activities and internet-based dumbassery run afoul of federal statutes? That may explain why there are so many of them in a federal lock-up.
posted by Lord Dimwit Flathead The Excessive at 9:29 AM on May 31, 2013


Just for the record, pedo is also a Spanish word, wherein the "d" is pronounced with a voiced "th" sound. When I was a kid I used to call beans peditos. Also, one of my uncles called me that until I was in my teens. (Little farts.)
posted by mule98J at 9:45 AM on May 31, 2013



["This is Obama's fault" derail excised, back to prison talk...]


Whoa whoa whoa, let's not ask too many hard questions about why Kiriakou is in prison for blowing the whistle on torture in the first place, especially if the answer is someone I voted for.
posted by lambdaphage at 10:21 PM on May 31, 2013


I could tell that "This is Obama's fault" would be a derail because I know, I know, without even looking, that this has all been covered previously. If I'm wrong, tell me.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2013


The fact that it is even considered debatable whether the Obama administration is responsible for the effects of its own policies means that we're apparently not done talking about it.

Imagine a similar scenario in a conservative-leaning forum ca. 2007, in which a moderator quelches mentions of torture being "Bush's fault". Wouldn't you find that deeply chilling?
posted by lambdaphage at 10:36 AM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The collective noun is a 'lolita' of pedos.

Close, but I think "a humbert of pederasts" scans a bit better.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:29 PM on June 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't you find that deeply chilling?

My bad. I'm relatively new to Metafilter, so it didn't occur to me that the previous thread would be closed to new comments. Anyway, I don't know if you read the derail before it was deleted, but I did (at least some of it), and it looked like it was quickly heading in an unhelpful direction. So I don't think the mod's intent was to quelch healthy, respectful discussion.
posted by ogooglebar at 6:05 PM on June 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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