JOHN KIRIAKOU: Biden & Hope for Whistleblowers

I’m thinking in particular about Darin Jones. And something a friend said about the president elect back in 2017 has stuck in my mind.

Joe Biden campaigning for president in Southfield, Michigan, Oct. 16, 2020. (Joe Biden, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

I’ve received a great many phone calls from whistleblowers and would-be whistleblowers since Joe Biden was elected president asking what I think his attitude toward whistleblowers will be once he takes office. 

Will the Biden administration be Obama II, using the Espionage Act to silence national security whistleblowers?  Or will Biden support and defend those individuals who bring to light evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality?  I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but I believe it will be the latter.

I don’t arrive at this conclusion by serendipity or hopefulness, but rather from personal experience.  In 2016, in the waning days of the Obama presidency, a group of wealthy and influential Greek-Americans, including two former senior elected officials, told me that they had close ties to then-Vice President Biden and that they were willing to approach him to ask that he support my request that President Obama pardon me.  (I had been convicted of violating the Intelligence Identities Act [IIPA] of 1982 after blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program.) 

The Greek-Americans showed Biden an op-ed that he had written in 1982, just after the measure was signed into law, saying that the IIPA was unconstitutional on its face and that it should never have been passed in the first place.  They showed him a letter signed by 70 former CIA, NSA and FBI officers asking Obama to pardon me.  They showed him a letter from Dr. Morton Halperin, the author of the IIPA, saying that I should never have been charged with a crime.  And they showed him a speech made by Rep. James Moran (D-VA) on the floor of the House asking the president to pardon me.  It was a comprehensive pitch.

‘He Went to the Mat’

Much to my surprise, on the evening of Jan. 16, 2017, Biden agreed to speak to Obama.  The three Greek-Americans went to the White House two nights later to meet with Biden again and to accompany him to his meeting with Obama.  One of them finally called me a few minutes after midnight on the last day of the Obama presidency.  “You would have been so proud of Joe Biden tonight,” he told me.  “He went to the mat for you.” 

But halfway through Biden’s presentation, Obama put up his hands, my friend told me.  “Guys,” the president said.  “I’m just not going to do this.  It’s either him or it’s (Chelsea) Manning, and Manning got 35 years.”  Why Manning and I had to be mutually exclusive is something I’ll never understand.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in a West Wing hallway. (White House, Pete Souza)

I didn’t get a pardon that night.  But what my friend told me — “You would have been so proud of Joe Biden tonight” — has stuck in my mind.  By all accounts, Biden is a decent guy.  I’ve met him a number of times and he couldn’t have been any friendlier.  That’s not to say that he’s suddenly going to end U.S. involvement in foreign wars (that he’s voted and campaigned for) or forgive student debt (given his support for an onerous bankruptcy bill that stripped students of protection).  But he seems to be an amiable “what you see is what you get” kind of person, even if personality only goes so far in politics.

Hope for Darin Jones

Nevertheless, it’s for that reason that I’m hopeful that Biden will weigh in on a whistleblower case that I’ve written about in the past.  Darin Jones is an FBI whistleblower and former supervisory contract specialist who in 2012 reported evidence of serious procurement improprieties. I’ve written about him here and here.

Darin said that Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) had been awarded a $40 million contract improperly because a former FBI official with responsibility for granting the contract then was hired as a consultant at CSC.

Jones maintained that this was a violation of the Procurement Integrity Act. He made seven other disclosures alleging financial improprieties at the FBI, and he was promptly fired for his whistleblowing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, arguably the most pro-whistleblower elected official on Capitol Hill, has gone to bat repeatedly for Jones and has demanded that the FBI reinstate him and pay him all back pay owed to him since his firing.  The FBI has ignored him.

There’s now a hook, however, for a Biden Justice Department to do the right thing for Darin Jones and, by extension, for all federal whistleblowers.  Last month, a Virginia man, Robert Bailey, entered a guilty plea in a federal court in Idaho, saying that he had given an FBI official $128,000 in bribes in exchange for helping him win federal contracts.  The bribes included cash, a “birthday trip” to Dallas to watch the Dallas Cowboys play, and a week’s rental at a North Carolina beach house, among other things.  Bailey faces 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.  The media have not reported what has become of the FBI official.

This is exactly the kind of behavior reported by Darin Jones.  He told the congressional oversight committees, the FBI inspector general, and even the media about wrongdoing taking place in the FBI.  Rather than being celebrated, he was punished, fired and humiliated.

Biden and his new attorney general can rectify that.  Obama looked the other way.  Trump looked the other way.  Now is the time to start fresh and to do the right thing.  Biden can start by making Darin Jones the example.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

The views expressed are solely those of the authors and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Please Contribute to Consortium News

Donate securely with


Click on ‘Return to PayPal’ here

Or securely by credit card or check by clicking the red button:







14 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: Biden & Hope for Whistleblowers

  1. November 24, 2020 at 14:16

    Didn’t it occur to John that all that info put Biden on the spot, so he goes to Obama and says do me a favor. The con most probably was on…

  2. y. tateishi
    November 24, 2020 at 13:28

    Most US polticians have been and are “butterflies” we can not trust them. Biden has at least one unlawful act thriugh his son as to Ukraine issues. The US has been “the most democratic country” even to assasinate any politicians even president. We remember JFK. I even went to Washington DC to trace the so-called assasine Oswalt’s acts. He could not kill JFK. There were other assasins hiding close to the road through which the JFK’s car moved.

      November 25, 2020 at 11:19

      JFK was assassinated in Dallas.

    November 24, 2020 at 12:49

    Well, that’s a mildly interesting anecdote, but I think it contains no optimism about the most serous and important cases, those of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

    This additional note on Obama:


  4. November 24, 2020 at 11:16

    Let’s hope so, John. Though given his mental state I expect someone else will be making the decision.

  5. November 24, 2020 at 11:15

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein the most senior Democrat on the Judicial Committee had been firm in opposing CIA abuse. Now and shill Democratic organizations demanded that she not being reinstated, since she thanked a Republican for being civil in the Supreme Court debate. She said she will not seek reelection. If we rally to her defense she could help Biden do a better job. Bernie if someone reminds him might get involved.

  6. November 24, 2020 at 10:38

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein like John McCain earlier stood up to the CIA, even had to spar with Obama. Now shrill Democratic voices forced to not re-seek the chairmanship of the Judicial Committee. If Consortium News defends her we might rally the dormant peace movement to rally in her defense. Bernie seems to lack foreign policy advisors on his staff

      November 24, 2020 at 12:20

      Sorry, but we do not allow active links in the comments section.

  7. Paige Turner
    November 24, 2020 at 01:17

    Please follow Whistleblower News Network, an online media offering which comprehensibly presents one whistleblower a week, and keeps whistleblowers and their allies up to date on news for whistleblowers. Whatever President Biden does with whistleblowers, you will read it first in WNN.

  8. November 23, 2020 at 17:27

    Just one act will tell you if Bidens puppetmasters will have a different attitude to Whistleblowers….the ending if the persecution of Assange and Snowden.. wont happen mate.

  9. Corn Pipe
    November 23, 2020 at 16:48

    “I’m just not going to do this. It’s either him or it’s (Chelsea) Manning, and Manning got 35 years.” Why Manning and I had to be mutually exclusive is something I’ll never understand.”

    What’s to not understand? The Manning pardon was one of a variety of things Obama did at the end to try to change the narrative of his otherwise terrible presidency. The mutually exclusive part was that he was only going to do the bare minimum, in order to balance out his fake caring about Manning or whistleblowers, against his fealty and personal championing of the authoritarian security state.

    I don’t see any difference between him and Biden, and don’t really care about what The Three Greek-Americans told you. Hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’m a pessimist, I’m a realist. And yes, you’re an optimist.

    Instead of hoping for some kind of moral awakening from a decades-long 140-year old corporatist, racist warmonger, you should be hoping that Biden sees such a pardon as politically advantageous.

    All kind of moot since imo Harris will be prez within a year. She’s also a sociopath.

    • jo6pac
      November 23, 2020 at 18:14

      Sadly I agree with and I also hope I’m wrong.

    • Anne
      November 24, 2020 at 09:09

      All too true, Corn Pipe. One only has to read/hear about who Biden is selecting (or has selected for him) for his admin to know full well that all that will change (from Trump’s doings abroad) is the patina and organization with which the same barbaric, immoral, greed-ridden warmongering and imperialist actions (and beliefs) are put into practice.

      Apparently all that matters is Appearances, How the Mammon-Moloch worshiping corporate-capitalist-imperialist plutocratic ruling elites is “seen” to continue their global dominance… Not the reality at least as experienced by those of the receiving end – always far from these shores.

      Actions speak far louder than words – or bloody well should. And Biden has always been on the side of, worked toward the imperialist barbarism externally and brutal racist deprivation domestically.

    • John Doe
      November 24, 2020 at 12:11

      Very True. Pardoning or being tolerant of whistle-blowers is incompatible with the growing police state and ultimately what is planned to be the NWO now called The Great Reset. TPTB will not allow it. We are headed toward bald faced Autocracy 1984 on steroids wrapped in what they hope to be sheep’s clothing.

Comments are closed.