Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Terrorizing Lawyers - The New America

Jesselyn Radack was a normal legal advisor in the Justice Department, excellent evaluations, until she received a call one day. The call was what to do if the FBI insists on interrogating a suspect without a lawyer present. She replied that of course it was unconstitutional. After several calls and emails where she pointed out the clear responsibility to follow the law and the Constitution she was asked to resign and the emails were hidden by the Justice Department.
When I went to check the hard copy file, the e-mails containing my assessment that the FBI had committed an ethical violation in Lindh's interrogation were gone.

With the help of technical support, I resurrected the missing e-mails from my computer archives. I documented and included them in a memo to my boss and took home a copy for safekeeping in case they "disappeared" again. Then I resigned.

Months later, as the Justice Department continued to claim that it never believed at the time of his interrogation Lindh had a lawyer, I disclosed the e-mails to Newsweek in accordance with the Whistleblower Protection Act.
An article in The New Yorker Magazine confirms this story. She has now been blackballed by the Bush Justice Department from the legal profession. Her problem, she believed the law applied to all American citizens - even the man called the American Taliban. She has a new article in the National Law Journal warning others of her experiences.
When I blew the whistle after my advice urging restraint was disregarded and then destroyed, the Justice Department leaned heavily on my private law firm--Hawkins Delafield & Woo--to fire me. Hawkins, being a bunch of invertebrates, placed me on a "leave of absence sine die" because of "the need of the clients of Hawkins." (Really, they were afraid of firing me because they knew they'd have a wrongful termination suit on their hands. By putting me on an indefinite, unpaid, involuntary leave of absence, they thought they could have it both ways--getting the government off their back without me suing them.)

After "leave of absence" dragged into a constructive discharge, DOJ then assisted Hawkins in contesting my award of unemployment compensation that barely paid for groceries each week. Since when does the government orchestrate the firing of a private person and assist a private employer in contesting the employee's receipt of unemployment benefits?
She has a new book out about what it is like to become one of the Americans relentlessly aggressively prosecuted by this administration for attempting to defend the Constitution.
The Justice Department aggressively attacked Radack, costing her a job there and a later job with a private law firm, threatening her license to practice law, damaging her reputation, denying her income, placing her on the "no-fly" list, and endlessly harassing her. Her book recounts the hell she went through.

This book offers a poignant illustration of the erosion of civil rights and liberties in the "war on terrorism." It brings into sharp focus the critical question of whether we can respond effectively to the new threat of terrorism without jeopardizing the very freedoms and fundamental principles that characterize a democratic society. - ANTHONY LEWIS
New York Times
Her story is in The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights and other books as well.

Jim prompted me to do a write up after I had heard about her case the day before.

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