Mark Zaid

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Mark S. Zaid is a Washington DC attorney, with a practice focus on national security law, free speech constitutional claims and government accountability.[1] He was named as a 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 DC Superlawyer for his work on behalf of national security whistleblowers.[2] In 1998 he founded the James Madison Project, an organization dedicated to reducing government secrecy.[3] It is interested in the Freedom of Information Act and government whistleblowers. He is the co-editor of Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws.[4]


Zaid is a 1989 graduate of the University of Rochester, and a 1992 graduate of Albany Law School of Union University in New York, where he served as an Associate Editor of the Albany Law Review.[5]


Zaid practices in litigation and lobbying on matters relating to national security, federal employment, foreign sovereign and diplomatic immunity, international transactions, international torts and crimes, defamation, the Constitution (First and Fifth Amendments), and the Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (FOI/PA).[6]

Through his practice, Zaid often represents former or current federal employees, intelligence officers, whistleblowers who have grievances against agencies of the United States government or foreign governments. Additionally, he represents members of the media and the public in First Amendment and FOI/PA disputes. He has handled national security matters including security clearance revocations/denials, IG investigations, and other employment issues throughout the national security and military communities. He currently teaches the DC Bar CLE courses on FOIA and security clearances.[7][8]

Some of his cases are well-known, including such as suing Libya for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 which resulted in a $2.7 billion settlement, the largest of its kind against a foreign government for terrorist activities,[9][10] and obtaining a court-ordered injunction in 2004 effectively shutting down the Department of Defense's mandatory anthrax vaccination program for two years.[11][12]

Zaid has been quoted in print and online news reports as an expert in National security law and FOIA law.[13][14][15] He has appeared as a commentator on CNN[16] and MSNBC.[17]

Whistleblower Aid[edit]

In September 2017, Zaid and former U.S. State Department whistleblower John Tye cofounded Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm. Initially focused on employees and contractors of the U.S. federal government, Whistleblower Aid emphasizes it is not WikiLeaks. "No one should ever send classified information to Whistleblower Aid," the firm states. "Whistleblower Aid will never assist clients or prospective clients with leaking classified information." Instead, would-be whistleblowers with classified information will be directed to investigators with security clearances to help expose wrongdoing without breaking the law or incurring criminal liability.[18][19] "We are trying to hold the U.S. government accountable," Zaid explained, "and provide free legal services to whistleblowers so they don't ruin their careers in the process or be prosecuted."[20] Clients will not be charged. To cover expenses, the firm solicits donations from foundations and crowdsource funding.[18]


  1. ^ Real Clear Politics website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  2. ^ "Debra S.Katz, Stephen M.Kohn, John R.Phillips, Mark S.Zaid - Washington DC Lawyers - Protecting the Insider".
  3. ^ "James Madison Project".
  4. ^ Center, Electronic Privacy Information (26 September 2008). Hammitt, Harry A.; Rotenberg, Marc; Verdi, John A.; Zaid, Mark S., eds. "Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2008". Electronic Privacy Information Center – via Amazon.
  5. ^ Official Mark Zaid website biography. Accessed February 23, 2010.
  6. ^ Sr., Joseph P. Chakalis,. "Rochester Review • University of Rochester".
  7. ^ "The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel - The Leading Source For In-House Counsel".
  8. ^ "District of Columbia Bar - Page not found".
  9. ^ "Global Focus: CHAT ABOUT THE LOCKERBIE BOMBING". Archived from the original on 2008-08-04.
  10. ^ "Libya, Families of Victims of Pan Am 103 Bombing Agree on $2.7B Compensation Fund". 14 August 2003.
  11. ^ "Judge Halts Mandatory Anthrax Vaccination For Military". Archived from the original on 2008-08-20.
  12. ^ "".
  13. ^ Kara Scanell, "SEC Gets FOIA Foil in Financial Law: Regulatory Revamp Gives Agency Greater Rein to Deny Document Requests; 'Is That a Good Thing?'." Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2010. Found at WSJ online. Cited at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "Freedom of information: Debate continues over scope of SEC FOIA exemption," August 4, 2010, found at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press website. Both accessed August 6, 2010.
  14. ^ Andrea Stone, "WikiLeaks Diaries Raise Question: Is Secrecy Dead?" AOL News, July 26, 2010. Found at AOL News website Archived 2010-07-29 at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed August 6, 2010.
  15. ^ Chalfant, Morgan (July 23, 2018). "Trump mulls move against intel critics". The Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  16. ^ CNN website.
  17. ^ See MSNBC website and MSNBC website.
  18. ^ a b Morello, Carol (September 18, 2017). "Former whistleblower starts legal aid group to guide would-be tipsters". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ "Former whistleblower starts legal aid group to guide would-be tipsters". Whistleblower Aid. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Want to leak on Trump? A D.C. lawyer will represent you for free". The Outline. Retrieved September 20, 2017.

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