Magazine article Reason

Defending the Whistleblowers

Magazine article Reason

Defending the Whistleblowers

Article excerpt

Would National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden be better off had he gone through official channels to expose his employer's questionable domestic surveillance practices? No way, says his lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of And she should know: The national security and human rights attorney has represented numerous other government whistleblowers and even acted as one herself. In October 2015, Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie sat down with Radack to discuss the U.S. government's war on information.

Q: You used to work at the Department of Justice during the prosecution of John Walker Lindh. How did that change your perspective?

A: I was the ethics attorney for the Justice Department. Despite giving advice not to interrogate the so-called "American Taliban" without his lawyer and also not to torture him, it was clear the U.S. was doing both. And then I advised not to use that information in a criminal prosecution...because it was an improper interrogation.

Q: And then all of your emails went missing from the official record?

A: That's correct. There was a department-wide discovery order for all correspondence dealing with John Walker Lindh's interrogation. I had written more than a dozen that reflected pretty badly on the FBI. I went to check--back then we kept hard copies of things--and they were not in the file. I resurrected them from my computer archives, and wrote a memo to my boss, and attached them, and resigned.

Q: What had brought you to the Department of Justice?

A: It was my lifelong ambition to be a career public servant. But it really caused a crisis of conscience for me.

Q: Some of your clients went through what channels seemed to be official at the time.

A: Thomas Drake went through every conceivable internal channel about a number of surveillance programs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.