This lengthy online profile of GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack details her personal whistleblowing saga and ongoing crusade to defend national security whistleblowers. The piece shows how Radack’s own life experiences in voicing wrongdoing have influenced her work with numerous GAP clients, including NSA whistleblowers Tom Drake and Edward Snowden.
Key Quote: Her most public fight turned out to be over the most senior member of the Thinthread group, Thomas Drake. A manager at the NSA, Drake raised doubts about the Trailblazer warrantless wiretapping program in a 2002 report filed with the Pentagon’s inspector general, just a few months after Radack’s leak to Newsweek. When in 2005, The New York Times published a piece about warrantless surveillance, Drake’s report put him on the NSA’s radar as a potential leaker, and he was a prime suspect for tipping off the reporter. In November of 2007, a SWAT team raided his home, turning up a cache of unclassified documents but nothing that connected him with the Times leak. It took years to find a case, but the government did eventually. Some of the documents in Drake’s apartment were classified after the fact as part of an NSA review, and in April of 2010, he was charged with possession of classified material.
“I had everybody that I knew turn their back on me,” Drake told me when I met him at a hotel bar in Bethesda, Maryland in April. “The everyday reality was the crushing possibility that I’d end up in prison no matter what I did.” By the time the indictment came down, his savings were long gone, and he was forced to trade his private lawyer for a public defender. When he saw an editorial Radack had written about his case in the LA Times, he reached out to her. They met at a coffee shop and he signed on as a pro-bono client the same day. “I’ve been extraordinarily lucky,” Drake says. “She is the only other person, still to this day, who understands exactly what I went through.”
On June 20, the Supreme Court ruled that government employees cannot be retaliated against for truthful statements made when giving testimony in court. In this radio piece, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine discussed the significance of the ruling.
Key Quote (Devine): “There is an unanimous ruling here that government employees are the ones who are indispensible, who are best situated for our legal system to work the way it’s expected to … to get at the truth when the laws have been violated. Government workers deserve that pat on the back and need that wind on their back in terms of all the interpretations of their own rights under whistleblower laws or other constitutional tests. So the Court was basically giving a shout out to government employees and their unique roll in keeping the system working as it is supposed too.”
According to a USDA inspector general report and recently released documents acquired through a FOIA request, the USDA has failed to adequately hold humane slaughter violators accountable. GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign explains why this isn’t much of a surprise given what many USDA whistleblowers have relayed to GAP about retaliation they face when reporting wrongdoing.
This investigative article illustrates how the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Education has failed in its stated goals to improve primary education in developing countries. The goals have not been met despite roughly $2 billion in funds spent over the last decade. This week, the Global Partnership will again seek some $3.5 billion in financial support.
The president of the Ethics Resource Center recently penned this letter explaining how high retaliation rates against federal workers discourage the reporting of bad behavior. She stresses the need for a culture shift in government in which blowing the whistle is expected and rewarded.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.