|Born||Jesselyn Alicia Brown
December 12, 1970
Washington DC, US
|Alma mater||Brown University
Yale Law School
|Notable work(s)||TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban"|
|Notable award(s)||Feminist Majority Foundation Feminist of the Year Award |
Jesselyn Radack (born December 12, 1970) is a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice who came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) committed an ethics violation in their interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban" captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan) without an attorney present, and that the Department of Justice attempted to suppress that information. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Her experience is chronicled in her memoir, TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban".
She is currently the National Security & Human Rights Director of the Government Accountability Project, a leading whistleblower organization.
Early life and education 
Radack was born in Washington DC and attended Brown University. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year and graduated magna cum laude in 1992 as a triple major with honours in all three majors. Since 1983 when Brown began tracking such data, only one other student has received honors in three concentrations.
Radack graduated from Yale Law School and joined the Justice Department through the Attorney General Honors Program where she practiced constitutional tort litigation from 1995–1999 and then worked in the Department's newly created Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) from 1999-2002.
John Walker Lindh case 
Initial inquiry into Lindh case 
On December 7, 2001 Radack received an inquiry from Justice Department counter-terrorism prosecutor John DePue regarding the ethical propriety of interrogating Lindh without a lawyer being present. Radack was told unambiguously that Lindh's father had retained counsel for his son. Radack responded that interrogating him was not authorized by law because Lindh was represented by counsel. The FBI proceeded to question Lindh without a lawyer. DePue called back Radack the following day, and Radack advised DePue that Lindh's confession might "have to be sealed" and could be "only used for national security purposes" and intelligence-gathering, not for criminal prosecution.
Radack continued to research the issue until December 20, 2001 when her supervisor Claudia Flynn told her to drop the matter because Lindh had been 'Mirandized'. It was later learned that the FBI agent Christopher Reimann who read Lindh the Miranda warning had, when noting the right to counsel, ad-libbed: "Of course, there are no lawyers here" in Afghanistan.
Attorney General Ashcroft's public statements regarding Lindh 
On January 15, 2002, five weeks after the interrogation, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that a criminal complaint was being filed against Lindh. "The subject here is entitled to choose his own lawyer," Ashcroft said, "and to our knowledge, has not chosen a lawyer at this time." Radack knew that was untrue. Three weeks later, Ashcroft announced Lindh's indictment, saying that his rights "have been carefully, scrupulously honored." This was contradicted by a photograph that was circulating worldwide of Lindh naked, bound to a stretcher with duct tape, and blindfolded with epithets written across it.
Retribution by Radack's supervisor and missing email 
On February 4, 2002 Flynn gave Radack an unscheduled, undated, and unsigned "blistering" performance evaluation, despite Radack having received a performance award and a pay rise a few months earlier. It did not mention the Lindh case by name but it questioned her legal judgement. Flynn told Radack to find another job or else the review would be put in Radack's official personnel file. (Radack had planned on being a career civil servant.)
On March 7, 2002 the lead prosecutor in the Lindh case, Randy Bellows, messaged Radack that there was a court order for all of the Justice Department's internal correspondence about Lindh's interrogation. He said that he had two of her messages and wanted to make sure he had everything.
Radack became immediately concerned because the court order had been deliberately concealed from her. Additionally, although Radack had written more than a dozen e-mails on the subject, the Department had turned over only two of them, neither of which reflected her fear that the FBI's actions had been unethical and that Lindh's confession, which was the basis for the criminal case, might have to be sealed. Radack checked the hard-copy file and found that the thick, staple-bound stack of paper had been reduced to a few sheets. Radack confided in a senior colleague, former U.S. Attorney Donald McKay, who examined the file and told her that it had been "purged."
With the assistance of technical support, Radack then recovered 14 email messages from her computer archives and gave them to Flynn with a cover memorandum. When Flynn asked Radack why the messages weren't in the file, Radack said she didn't know, and her supervisor said 'Now I have to explain why PRAO should not look bad for not turning them over'.
Disclosure to Newsweek of emails believed to have been purged 
A year later in March 2003 investigative journalist Jane Mayer of The New Yorker confirmed that '[a]n official list compiled by the prosecution confirms that the Justice Department did not hand over Radack's most critical e-mail in which she questioned the viability of Lindh's confession until after her confrontation with Flynn'. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times exposed in 2006 that: "[Alberto] Gonzales made clear that the White House was calling the shots and that he, as White House counsel, had decided not to turn anything over to Lindh's defense lawyer in the way of documents. 'We're not going to provide discovery', Gonzales said."
Radack resigned from the Justice Department on April 5, 2002. As the Lindh case proceeded, "the administration continued to swear that it knew nothing of the fact that Lindh already had a defense attorney at the time of his interrogation. In June 2002 Radack heard a broadcast on NPR stating that the DOJ claimed they had never taken the position that Lindh was entitled to counsel during his interrogation.
After hearing the broadcast, Radack sent the email messages to Michael Isikoff, a Newsweek reporter who had been interviewed in the NPR story. Isikoff wrote an article about the purportedly missing e-mails.
According to Judge Henry Kennedy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Radack acted on a mistaken belief that the emails were not submitted to the court. The judge wrote that "[t]hough Flynn informed Radack that she would send the emails to Bellows, Radack maintains that she had a 'good faith belief' that this never occurred. Id. ¶¶ 22, 23. Radack was mistaken, for in filings submitted to the Virginia District Court on March 1, 2002, and March 11, 2002, Bellows turned over thirty-three PRAO-related documents, including Radack's fourteen emails, ex parte and under seal, for in camera review. On April 1, 2002, the court granted the government's motion for a protective order prohibiting disclosure of the PRAO documents."
The judge also wrote that "[t]he broadcast led Radack to believe that Flynn never disclosed her emails to Bellows or the court 'because [she] did not believe the Department would have the temerity to make public statements contradicted by its own court filings.' Still unaware that the emails had been turned over and were subject to a protective order, Radack disclosed her emails to Newsweek magazine where they appeared in the online version of the magazine on June 15, 2002."
Circa 2002/2003 the DOJ accessed phone records of her conversations with Michael Isikoff.
On July 15, 2002 three weeks after Radack's disclosure was made public and on the morning that Lindh's suppression hearing was due to begin, Lindh pleaded guilty to two relatively minor charges. The surprise deal, which startled even the judge, averted the crucial evidentiary hearing that would probe the facts surrounding his interrogation--which Radack had advised against--and whether his statements could be used against him at trial--which she had also advised against. Lindh pleaded guilty to two relatively minor charges and journalists agreed that the Lindh prosecution had "imploded."
On June 19, 2002 the judge presiding over Lindh's case requested that the Justice Department file a pleading in three weeks "addressing whether any documents ordered protected by the Court were disclosed by any person bound by an Order of this court." The Justice Department used the court's order as a pretext to launch a criminal investigation of Radack that lasted for the next 15 months. (The judge issued an order in November 2002 concluding that Radack's disclosure did not violate any order of the Court, but this Order was not made available to Radack until two years later.)
Resignation from the Justice Department and Justice Department retaliation against Radack 
The Justice Department contacted Radack's new employers and warned the firm that she was under a "criminal leak investigation," even though Radack had never received a "subject" or "target" letter from the Justice Department to that effect, and there is no such crime as "leaking." The law firm placed her on an indefinite, unpaid leave of absence, which is tantamount to being fired. Radack applied for, and received, unemployment compensation benefits, which the Justice Department assisted the law firm in contesting. Radack won the appeal of her benefits; however, the criminal investigation left her unemployed and unemployable. The case closed on September 11, 2003. Investigators never identified a potential charge against her and no charges were ever brought.
On October 31, 2003, "[t]he Bush-Cheney administration also referred her for 'discipline' to the bar associations in the states where she was licensed to practice law, submitting a secret report she was not allowed to see and making it almost impossible for her to fight the allegations." Maryland bar officials dismissed the referral on February 23, 2005. The District of Columbia Bar referral is still pending more than eight years later. Radack is the only Justice Department attorney referred to the bar for advice she rendered during the Bush years, in contrast with her law school contemporary, John Yoo, who authored the "torture memos."
Congressional intervention 
U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy submitted questions about the affair to Attorney General John Ashcroft in March 2003 and expressed concern about Radack's situation in May 2003. Sen. Kennedy later said: "It appears she [Radack] was effectively fired for providing legal advice that the [Justice] Department didn't agree with." Constitutional scholar and former Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan, Bruce Fein, represented Radack pro bono in her effort to clear her name.
Radack suit against the Justice Department 
Radack sued DOJ, alleging that its Office of Professional Responsibility violated the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Administrative Procedure Act in connection with its referral of professional misconduct allegations to District of Columbia and Maryland Bar officials. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2006.
After DOJ 
Radack served on the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee from 2005-2007. From 2006 until 2008, she represented government contractors blowing the whistle on fraud in the reconstruction of Iraq. Since 2008, she has served as the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. She was one of the attorneys who represented National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake, with whom she won the 2011 Sam Adams Award, given annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. They also both won the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Legal Times, National Law Journal, The Nation, and numerous law journals. She maintains a blog at DailyKos.
See also 
- Blaylock, Dylan (2011-11-17). "Radack, Drake Win Sam Adams Award". Government Accountability Project. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- Charlie Savage: Takeover, p.108. Little, Brown & Company, 2007.
- Emily Gold Boutelier, The Woman Who Knew Too Much Brown Alumni Magazine March/April 2004 p.35
- Jane Mayer: The Dark Side, pp.94-95. Doubleday, 2008.
- Dark Side, p.95.
- Jane Mayer, Lost in the Jihad The New Yorker 10 March 2003 p.57
- Dark Side, p.96.
- "Transcript of John Ashcroft – February 5, 2002". Transcripts.cnn.com. 2002-02-05. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- The New Yorker, p.57.
- Laurie Abraham Anatomy of a Whistleblower Mother Jones January/February 2004 p 62
- Takeover, p.108.
- The New Yorker, pp.57-58.
- The New Yorker, p.58.
- Radack v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 402 F. Supp. 99 (D.D.C. 2005).
- The New Yorker, p 59
- Eric Lichtblau: Bush's Law, p 35 Pantheon Books 2008
- Michael Isikoff, The Lindh Case E-Mails, Newsweek, June 24, 2002, p.8.
- Daily Kos: FBI Sidesteps Law to Obtain Phone Records of Americans, Journalists Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, 2010 1 19, retrieved from www.dailykos.com on 2011 03 11
- Dark Side, p.97.
- Jesselyn Radack: The Canary in the Coalmine, p.69. Sheridan, 2006.
- Douglas McCollam, The Trials of Jesselyn Radack, The American Lawyer, July 2003, p.19.
- Takeover, p.109.
- Jeff Stein, D.C. Bar Still Pursuing DOJ Leaker After Seven Years, Washington Post, May 2010.
- YouTube - Jesselyn Radack at FFF Conference 2008 6/6 retrieved from YouTube 2011-03-11
- Statement of Senator Edward M. Kennedy at the Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting Regarding the Nomination of Michael Chertoff to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, May 22, 2003 (online copy at the RCFP web site).
- Eric Lichtblau: AFTEREFFECTS: THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT; Dispute Over Legal Advice Costs a Job and Complicates a Nomination New York Times, May 22, 2003, A16.
- Mother Jones: Anatomy of a Whistleblower. January/February 2004.
- Radack v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, CV 04-01881 (HHK) (D.D.C. 2006).
- Radack, Jesselyn (2011-11-21). Attorney Jesslyn Radack: More whistle blowers have been charged during Obama admin. then all other presidents together (Flash). Washington DC: Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.
- Lost in the Jihad, by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, March 10, 2003, p. 7f.
- Whistleblowing in Washington by Jesselyn Radack, from Reform Judaism Magazine
- The Woman Who Knew Too Much, Brown Alumni Magazine article
- Anatomy of a Whistleblower, article by Laurie Abraham, Mother Jones, January/February 2004
- Whistleblower Charges Justice Dept. with Misconduct - Jesselyn Radack speaks to Democracy Now!, January 13, 2005.
- On Julian Assange's address to the UNGA, human rights, and the persecution of whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack speaks to RT (TV network), September 27, 2012.
- Disharmonic Convergence of Free Speech Free Fall by Jesselyn Radack (The Whistleblogger/ 2012), Government Accountability Project (GAP), on September 27, 2012.
- Her book, The Canary in the Coalmine (2004), recounts her ordeals.
- DailyKos blog and profile