Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who is currently in the middle of serving a thirty-month prison sentence at the federal correctional institution of Loretto, Pennsylvania, has written another 'Letter from Loretto.' And, in this letter, he shares what it has been like to work in the prison's chapel.
Since August of last year, Firedoglake has been publishing 'Letters from Loretto,' by Kiriakou, an imprisoned whistleblower who was the first member of the CIA to publicly acknowledge that torture was official US policy under the George W. Bush administration. He was convicted in October 2012 after he pled guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) when he provided the name of an officer involved in the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program to a reporter. He was sentenced in January 2013, and reported to prison on February 28, 2013.
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) considers copies of Kiriakou's letters to be a danger to the Loretto prison: a threat to the 'security, good order or discipline of the institution' or 'to the protection of the public' or a document that 'might facilitate criminal activity.'
Kiriakou writes in this letter about the history of FCI Loretto, which used to be a Catholic monastery. The Bureau of Prisons turned it into a 'low-security prison' and converted the 'monks' bedrooms' into 'prisoners' rooms.'
'I'm an orderly in the chapel,' Kiriakou shares. 'On Tuesday mornings, all 19 chapel employees vacuum, dust and polish the chapel, the auxiliary worship room and the offices. Otherwise, my job is to provide prisoners with books and religious videos from the library.'
He continues, 'I work eight hours a week and make $3.23 a month. I do this job, though, because I enjoy the solace and the ability to sit at one of the prison's very few desks and write in peace.'
Kiriakou provides an overview of some of the religions he has come to learn more about during his time working in the chapel, some which he did not really know existed. He highlights a 'tax cheat' who wrote his own bible 'by taking out the parts of the real bible' that he didn't like and then created his own cult. He started 'baptizing' people in the bathroom and happens to have several followers. He even told a pastor that visited the prison that he would go to hell if he didn't join his group, which the prison doesn't recognize as a legitimate faith group.
There are problems with sex in the chapel. It does not have any security cameras and chapel employees often have to tell inmates to stop fondling each other.
Additionally, Kiriakou recounts an encounter he had with a lieutenant, who would later crumple up a form he submitted when requesting a new job as a hallway orderly.
The lieutenant in charge of hallway orderlies, according to Kiriakou, is 'a Dudley Do-Right look-a-like who has a reputation as a bully and provocateur, and who reportedly attends costume parties dressed as Darth Maul.' He doesn't like Kiriakou, especially because on Thanksgiving night he was listening to a private phone conversation Kiriakou was having with his wife and heard him say some of the corrections officers are 'nimrods.'
It is apparently routine for the lieutenant to eavesdrop on Kiriakou's phone calls. Kiriakou recounts, 'After my wife and I hung up on Thanksgiving night, he ordered me to report to the lieutenant's office. I wanted to bring my friend and former colleague Dave, but I was not permitted to have a witness.'
The lieutenant started the meeting by asking, 'Are you an educated man?' Kiriakou refused to answer the rhetorical question, and then the lieutenant barked, 'Do you think I'm a nimrod?' He went on a rant and, as Kiriakou suggests, 'I could only conclude that he has such low self-esteem that I offended his delicate sensibilities by speaking poorly of unnamed COs in a private conversation.'
Kiriakou photocopied the 'Request to Staff' form he submitted for a hallway orderly position, which the lieutenant gave back to him crumpled. The photo is included in the latest letter.
As of this moment, he is still working in the prison as a chapel employee, and, despite the best efforts of supporters, including a few members of Congress who have advocated that he be allowed to spend at least the last six months of his sentence in a halfway house, Kiriakou will remain imprisoned at Loretto for at least another year.