The Whistleblower and the “American Taliban” (Foreword by Glenn Greenwald) 

This is the the memoir of the Justice Department legal ethics advisor, Jesselyn Radack, who blew the whistle on government misconduct in the case of the so-called “American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh–America’s first terrorism prosecution after 9/11.

About the Author

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Whistleblower Press (January 30, 2012)


From the Back Cover


Amazon Review:

Justice Advocate Radack Authors Courageous, Powerful Memoir
In 1995, a brilliant, newly minted Yale Law School graduate named Jesselyn Radack began work at the U.S. Justice Department to fulfill her dream of public service. Six years after becoming an ethics adviser in the headquarters of the 100,000-employee department, she found herself a pariah after suggesting that government attorneys should not provide false information to the courts in a federal terrorism prosecution.

“The Justice Department forced me out of my job” she writes, “placed me under criminal investigation, got me fired from my next job in the private sector, reported me to the state bars in which I’m licensed as an attorney, and put me on the ‘no fly list.'”

Her offense? She believed, erroneously as it turned out, that the Department would not want to use illegally obtained evidence in its prosecution of John Walker Lindh, an American convert to Islam. He had been imprisoned by Afghan warlords in November 2001 soon after the U.S.-led NATO invasion of the country after 9/11.

Lindh, then 20, was a California-born convert to Islam. He had travelled to Yemen on a spiritual quest in 2000, and went to Afghanistan in June 2001 to join the Taliban army at a time when the Taliban government, a United States ally in the 1980s, was still receiving United States aid. Lindh survived a harsh POW camp in which more than three quarters of his 400 fellow Taliban POWs died in chaotic conditions along with an American interrogator.

Radack advised against further federal interrogation of Lindh without a lawyer present because his parents had retained counsel. Later, she blew the whistle when she learned that the department destroyed evidence of her advice, and then withheld the evidence from a Virginia federal court, where Lindh faced charges of murder and treason in a high-profile prosecution helping inflame the public in the earliest stages of the war.

Radack’s gripping tale describes a culture clash at the Justice Department between due process advocates and conviction-hungry zealots. The story has implications far beyond the Lindh case or indeed any of the terror cases. Readers of the Justice Integrity Project’s site (which I edit at […]) know of documented prosecution misconduct in criminal and civil cases in other cases, including mind-boggling evidence of a federal frame-up of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the state’s most prominent Democrat for many years.

I saw Radack lecture at the National Press Club with her client Thomas Drake in early 2012, and invited her to appear Aug. 30 on the “Washington Update” public affairs radio show I co-host on the MTL network, which maintains an archive of past shows.

She is an expert on a fascinating topic: What a law enforcement employee, or indeed what any employee should do, when supervisors pressure for participation in a legal fraud? Naturally it would be for goals — in this case claims of national security — ostensibly far more important than truth in court.

Radack’s situation was especially dramatic because she needed medical insurance as both a victim of multiple sclerosis and as a young mother. Nonetheless, she resigned from the Justice Department in 2002, only to find the department relentlessly followed her to try to thwart her employment (and health care) elsewhere, thereby making her an example of what happens to employees who do not toe the line on sensitive matters.

Civil liberties advocates have showered her and her book with praise, as indicated elsewhere in these reader reviews. She is currently the director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project.

After Radack’s disclosures to a Newsweek reporter in 2002 Lindh pled guilty in 2002 to two relatively minor charges in a plea deal that avoided a potentially embarrassing pre-trial hearing for the government on its conduct. Lindh received a long prison sentence. He is back in the news this week with a lawsuit against prison officials in Indiana protesting restrictions on his ability to participate in group prayers.

The major officials who are exposed as leading a department-wide effort to suppress traditional due process safeguards in the case include Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. Another was Assistant Attorney Gen. Michael Chertoff, co-author of the Patriot Act and later secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Radack’s slim (164-page) book is packed with insider information about the administration’s first major terrorism case after 9/11, and how the White House made crucial decisions on legal strategies.

“The poetic justice of Radack’s appalling experience,” writes columnist Glenn Greenwald in an apt book foreword, “is that she is using her hard-learned lessons to advocate and represent some of the nation’s today’s biggest whistleblowers: Thomas Drake, Bradley Manning, Peter Van Buren, and John Doe in Doe v. Rumsfeld. As Drake put it: ‘Jesselyn truly became my public voice and conscience — speaking out and writing fearless and courageously — bringing truth to power with all her simply superb outreach and advocacy.'”

One Thought on “TRAITOR: The Whistleblower and the “American Taliban””

  • I’ve seen a video interview Jesselyn and her client Thomas Nash did. She has great knowledge, amazing clock speed and relentless energy. Who else has such a book of citizen hero clients. I hope she can gain John Walker Lindh’s freedom.

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