Jesselyn Radack’s story


The name Jesselyn Radack keeps popping up in whistleblower stories. This is because she is a lawyer with the Government Accountability Project and has been assisting whistleblowers defend themselves against government retaliation.

But what may not be as well-known is that she used to be a lawyer in the ethics division of the Department of Justice who was forced out of her position when she was asked to give an opinion on whether John Walker Lindh could be questioned without a lawyer. She said no but they went ahead anyway. When she raised this problem with her superiors, she ended up being forced to leave. You can understand why she had to go. She had not understood the basic fact that government ethics lawyers are meant to find reasons to justify government actions, not hold them up to some ethical standard.

So she became a whistleblower, leaking the story anonymously to a reporter in 2002. Of course the government found out and retaliated in the usual way, by leaking stories about her to pliant reporters, getting her fired from her subsequent job at a private law firm, and making her the subject of a bar investigation, making her unemployable.

NPR interviewed Radack about her story, what defines a whistleblower, and what protections whistleblowers have (below) or you can read the transcript here.

Comments

  1. machintelligence says

    government ethics lawyers are meant to find reasons to justify government actions, not hold them up to some ethical standard.

    Lawyers in general are hired guns, not seekers after justice or guardians of ethics. Ask any lawyer who majored in environmental law and ended up defending oil companies in pollution lawsuits.

  2. Mano Singham says

    Though to be fair, many lawyers are ethical and are the major players in civil and human rights movements.

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