Seven years after she blew the whistle on ethical violations in the Justice Department, Jesselyn Radack is still under investigation by the D.C. Bar.
Radack was working in the Justice Department’s ethics unit in late 2001 when she advised department attorneys that FBI agents were improperly questioning “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh without his attorney present.
Lindh, captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, eventually pled guilty to carrying arms for the Taliban and was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole.
Radack, a Yale Law School graduate who was selected for the Attorney General Honors Program in 1995, received a sharply negative job performance evaluation and was forced out of the department in 2002. When she later heard Attorney General John Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials offering misleading statements about their handling of the Lindh case, she leaked copies of internal e-mails contradicting their accounts to Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.
In retaliation, the Justice Department asked the D.C and Maryland bar associations to sanction Radack.
Seven years later, the D.C. Bar is continuing to investigate the matter, even though the Maryland Bar dropped it in 2005.
The details of the allegations against Radack, now 39, remain classified.
“It’s a cloud over my head,” Radack says, one that limits her employment options. She currently works for the Government Accountability Project, a private whistleblower support organization in Washington, D.C.
The D.C. Bar counsel, Wallace Eugene Shipp, has sole discretion to decide whether Radak should be punished. He was not available for comment Thursday.
The deputy Bar counsel, Elizabeth Herman, said “there’s nothing public that I can talk to you about.”
Asked whether the Bar has a statute of limitations on its investigations, Herman said, “Nope.”
Mike Frisch, who is representing Radack in the matter, worked for the D.C. Bar for nearly 18 years.
“Historically, delays have been a problem, but that’s usually after the decision to charge has been made,” said Frisch, who now teaches ethics at Georgetown University Law School. In the Radack case. “It could take another seven years if charges are filed.”
Radack seems resigned to the endless delays now.
“With the passage of time, it’s less and less an issue,” she says.
At least one cloud has passed: For about six years, the government also had Radack on a subsection of the no-fly list, which triggered “secondary searches” at every airport. She finally gave up flying with her husband and three young children because of the delays.
Then one day in late 2008 or early 2009, some time around the election of Barack Obama, the searches suddenly stopped.