POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- A few residents know how the United Nations in its early days considered Pound Ridge as a possible location for its new headquarters.
As it turns out, the UN found another spot a few miles down the road in Manhattan. Another lesser known fact is that both the FBI and CIA each maintained safe houses in Pound Ridge for several years.
There is another lesser known fact only a few will confirm that several CIA officers have ties to our community – one who was raised in Pound Ridge and two others who have retired to our quiet community.
Of the thousands of analysts, officers and contractors who served in the CIA, there is another with ties to our town and his name is John Kiriakou. During a 16-year career, he earned 10 Exceptional Performance Awards, the Counterterrorism Service Medal and the State Department's Meritorious Honor Award.
He was also one of many officers to express reservations about using water boarding to acquire information. In 2012, John was charged and convicted of disclosing classified information to a journalist and a year ago was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Kiriakou is considering the town as a potential home when he is released.
In communicating with John while he counts the days to his release, I asked him for his side of it and he is allowing me to share his views with my readers albeit in a very brief manner.
LB : So, how did you get yourself into this situation?
JK : “I was sentenced for confirming the name of a former colleague to a reporter who was writing a book on the CIA’s torture program. I believe the real reason for my prosecution was because I blew the whistle. Intelligence leaks happen frequently yet I’m the second person in U.S. history to be charged with it as a crime."
LB: How did you like working at the CIA?
JK: “I’m very proud of my service. The Agency is made up of smart, dedicated, hard-working decent people. After 9/11, many of its leaders developed an almost sociopathic communal personality to use any means necessary to stamp out the terrorist threat. My team was told our target, Abu Zubaydah, was the No. 3 ranking person in al-Qaeda. We all now know that was not true. He was a person of interest but never a member of al-Qaeda. Still, he was water boarded 83 times. Most of the plans ascribed to him were done by others. In being a whistleblower, I would repeat my career again because the only way to bring about change at the CIA is to do it from the inside”.
John is expected to be released in August. For more information about his case, go to http://www.defendjohnk.com
Laurance Baschkin is a Pound Ridge resident.