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Watch > Episode > Jesselyn Radack - The NSA Whistleblower Championing Rights and Government Accountability

Jesselyn Radack - The NSA Whistleblower Championing Rights and Government Accountability


Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake are a force to be reckoned with. She is the legal adviser to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the Director of National Security And Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. He is a former senior executive of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and a whistleblower. In 2006, Thomas leaked information about the NSA’s data-gathering Trailblazer Project and was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, but in 2010, the case collapsed.

Both were in London to give the annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity and Intelligence to this year’s winner Private Chelsea Manning. Jesselyn had just been harassed by the UK Border Police and spoke about being questioned about her representation of Edward Snowden and Private Manning.

Thomas Drake has an incredible story that inspired Edward Snowden to flee the country and release information with a very specific protocol. After seeing the way that Thomas was treated by the government Edward knew that he would never be protected by any type of Whistleblowing statute if he remained on American soil.

Please join me in welcoming these two to London Real and support them on their quest to protect whistleblowers and thereby protect our basic human rights as individuals.

Jesselyn Radack began her legal career with a commitment to public service. After earning her law degree from Yale Law School, Radack joined the Department of Justice (DOJ) as an ethics advisor. Her dedication to upholding the law and ethical standards was evident in her work, where she reviewed cases involving government attorneys and ensured adherence to legal and ethical guidelines.

Radack gained national attention in the early 2000s when she found herself at the centre of a high-profile whistleblower case involving John Walker Lindh, an American citizen captured in Afghanistan. Radack, then working for the DOJ, discovered that the FBI had interrogated Lindh without his lawyer present, a violation of his constitutional rights. When Radack expressed concerns about the ethical breach, she faced internal resistance.

Radack’s ethical dilemma intensified when Lindh’s defence team requested information about his interrogation. Rather than complying, Radack was pressured by superiors to withhold critical documents. Recognizing the ethical imperative to disclose this information, she leaked the documents to Newsweek, revealing the constitutional violations committed during Lindh’s interrogation.

Radack’s decision to blow the whistle on government misconduct came at a personal cost. She faced retaliation within the DOJ, including professional isolation and being placed on the government’s no-fly list. Radack’s principled stance, however, marked the beginning of her transformation into a dedicated advocate for whistleblowers.

In the aftermath of the Lindh case, Radack faced accusations of mishandling sensitive information, and her legal battles began. However, her commitment to upholding ethical standards and the constitutional rights of individuals propelled her forward, laying the groundwork for her subsequent advocacy work.

In 2003, Jesselyn Radack joined forces with the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting government accountability and protecting whistleblowers. As the National Security and Human Rights Director at GAP, Radack has been instrumental in advancing policies that safeguard individuals who expose government misconduct, corruption, or illegal activities.

Radack has played a key role in advocating for the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), which was signed into law in 2012. The legislation aimed to strengthen protections for federal employees who disclose information about government wrongdoing. Radack’s tireless efforts and legal expertise contributed significantly to the passage of this landmark legislation.

Jesselyn Radack continued her advocacy for whistleblowers with high-profile cases, including providing legal representation to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who exposed extensive government surveillance programs. Radack’s role as a legal advisor to Snowden underscored her commitment to defending those who risk their livelihoods to expose the truth.

Jesselyn Radack’s career reflects an unwavering commitment to justice, ethical standards, and government accountability. As a whistleblower herself, she faced personal and professional challenges but emerged as a leading advocate for those who speak out against government misconduct. Radack’s work at the Government Accountability Project and her legal representation of whistleblowers in high-stakes cases highlight her dedication to fostering a culture of transparency and accountability within government institutions. In a world where whistleblowers often face adversity for their courage, Jesselyn Radack stands as a beacon of advocacy, tirelessly working to protect the rights of those who expose the truth.

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive at the National Security Agency (NSA) who emerged from the shadows in 2010 as a whistleblower, revealing widespread government surveillance programs and igniting a fierce debate about privacy, security, and the balance between the two. Drake’s courageous decision to expose what he perceived as unconstitutional practices has marked him as a pivotal figure in the ongoing discourse surrounding surveillance, civil liberties, and government accountability.

Thomas Drake, born in 1957, initially joined the U.S. Air Force and later transitioned to civilian life. In the early 2000s, he became a senior executive at the NSA, where he worked on various programs related to signals intelligence and information assurance. Drake’s dedication to serving his country and upholding the Constitution was a driving force in his career.

Drake’s turning point came in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when the U.S. government initiated extensive surveillance programs purportedly to enhance national security. Troubled by the constitutionality and ethics of these programs, Drake became an internal whistleblower, raising concerns about the NSA’s Trailblazer Project, a domestic surveillance initiative that he believed violated privacy rights.

In 2005, Drake took his concerns to a Baltimore Sun reporter, sparking investigations into the NSA’s activities. However, the government retaliated against Drake, accusing him of leaking classified information and violating the Espionage Act. The subsequent legal battles and persecution had a profound impact on Drake’s life and career.

Thomas Drake’s actions have left a lasting impact on the public discourse surrounding government surveillance and whistleblowing. His revelations, along with those of other whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, prompted a global conversation about the scope of government intrusion into private lives and the importance of protecting civil liberties.

Drake’s advocacy work extends beyond the legal realm. He has become a sought-after speaker on issues related to surveillance, government accountability, and the delicate balance between security and privacy. Drake’s willingness to stand up against powerful institutions has inspired others to question and challenge practices that may infringe on individual freedoms.


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