Our exclusive interview with John Kiriakou – the former CIA agent who is serving a 30-month prison sentence in Loretto, PA – which was published this weekend in our Greek and English editions, is significant if somewhat disturbing.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his words, they are indisputably thoughtful and rooted in a system of principles and values. They open a window into the inner workings of the intelligence community, illustrating the ability of such agencies to overshadow other parts of the government and to pursue relentlessly and take revenge on the “sheep that stray from the fold.”
It is striking to hear a CIA insider say that newly-elected presidents are “very quickly recruited by the intelligence establishment of this country and become part of the team.”
As compelling and revealing and those statements are, I attach even greater importance to those portions of the interview where Kiriakou spoke about the role of the Greek-American community in his life after his arrest and imprisonment.
In the community, says Kiriakou – a third-generation Greek proud of his roots in Rhodes – he found support and comfort.
He said Greek-Americans opened their arms and their wallets and offered their prayers.
Kiriakou’s message is an important one that I wish could reach every member of the community, especially our youth.
He makes the irrefutable point that there is a larger family to which we belong, the Hellenic community, on which one can rely during difficult moments in life.
But somehow that message does not resonate as vividly as it should. It has not taken intellectual or emotional root; it has not become a source of pride, as I believe it should.
It has not become embedded in the minds of everyone in our community, the great and the meek alike.
Yet, this element can be the extra dimension , the additional glue needed by our community, to act as a catalyst for even greater unity, interest, and support.
Maybe if this were to take hold, it would substantially reduce if not totally eliminate the phenomenon of successful Greek-Americans, such as Jamie Dimon, who renounce their Greekness until their lives take a negative turn.
“I am 100 percent positive,” Kiriakou told our senior writers Constantine S. Sirigos and Demetris Tsakas, (our photographer Kosta Bej was present but not allowed to take pictures) that the CIA took revenge for his public declarations about and against torture, especially waterboarding.
But he added defiantly : “I think I would do it all over again. Somebody had to stand up” to defend morality and the Constitution.