Jesselyn Radack struck me like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did. Directed and smart, with a plan. If we’re lucky, Radack may someday sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. And in a just world, Radack would.
Why? Radack has served as legal counsel for Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou. By now, most everyone knows Snowden’s name. He blew the whistle on the digital architecture of oppression constructed by the National Security Agency.
While Snowden to date has escaped the long arm of American justice, Drake and Kiriakou, other whistleblowers, found themselves the subject of prosection. Kiriakou now sits in jail after blowing the whistle on CIA sponsored torture.
Drake, a decorated veteran, is a former NSA executive who found no quarter in the internal legal processes of the NSA when he became concerned about spying on the American people in 2001.
By 2006, Drake had no option but to blow the whistle on the Trailblazer Project, an illegal, multi-billion dollar digital data collection dragnet. By 2010, Drake faced Espionage Act prosecution.
Obama has used the Espionage Act more times than all other presidents combined, Radeker noted as a group of us stood chatting in the courtyard at Yale Law School.
When Radack walked into the courtyard, she pointed to the room she used to live in. She graduated from Yale Law in 1995. On April 1, 2014, she returned to Sterling Hall at Yale Law to sit on a panel with Edward Cahn, Bruce Fein and Ralph Nader.
The four discussed the national security state. I wouldn’t know what the conversation was precisely, because Yale Law placed the conversation in a room for 100 people and at least 150 showed up. And they wouldn’t get us a bigger room.
I went and got a cup of coffee and returned at 6 p.m. to find the talk ending, and the panelists moving to the courtyard for a more intimate discussion. There, in different conversation circles around a picnic table filled with finger foods, the panelists held court.
It was a classic old time conversational salon. Nader spoke to students about corporate reform. One girl interviewed him for at least 15 minutes.
Fein, the right leaning libertarian, rolled through his ideas on moral leadership. No one talks about Aristotle or Socrates anymore, he lamented. He wants talk of ethics to dominate the political conversations now.
He called for the establishment of a school of moral and ethical political leadership. This country needs to build future leaders and teach them the skills to act in ethical, moral ways.
Fein has been harsh on the academy, challenging the Harvard Law Review to host a debate with President Obama, a former Law Review editor, about his consitutional overreach. The Law Review never responded. And such is the intellectual and moral decay of America.
It was Radack, though, who enthralled me. She captivated an audience of high school students. She listened to me for five minutes describe the Jodi Rell Inaugural Parade episode, and how justice was impossible to find in courts here.
I told her how the judge framed the issue after motions in limine to exclude evidence and allow only testimony about 15 seconds or so of constitutional injury, despite the fact that I was jailed for 13 hours.
Radack wasn’t surprised. She said the court did the same thing to her during Drake’s trial. Drake’s legal team, the prosecution, the jury and the judge had to speak in code because there was so much “secret” or “classified” material being discussed.
During Drake’s trial, could not use words like whistleblower or free speech or First Amendment. The prosecutors sought to keep newspaper articles from the jury. It seemed a circus. The framing of the issues made it tough for Drake to win, but on June 9, 2011, all charges against him were dropped.
Kiriakou experienced a similar issue after blowing the . I’ve had an envelope addressed to John Kiriakou sitting on my desk for the better part of a month. I want to write him in prison, but I am not sure what to say. She said he would respond.
I was concerned writing it on legal letterhead would make the prison wardens open it. Or not give it to him. So I will write him. I will send him this column. I will send this column to the prison warden who mistreats Kiriakou.
Kiriakou is the only man in the United States to serve time for torture. He is in the middle of a 12 month sentence. He shined the light on American violations of international war crimes from his position in the CIA. His sentence should be commuted. He is an American hero. A human hero.
He is the only one ever to be convicted for torture, but in the inverted moral order that is the totalitarian state of the United States, it is Kiriakou, not Bush or Cheney, who languishes in prison.
We want a country where she is on the Supreme Court. Radack certainly has the appropriate pedigree. Only Yale and Harvard and Princeton grads end up on the nation’s highest court.
We want a country where a Senate will confirm her. Where a president will nominate her. Here is a woman who is proud that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras will receive journalism awards like the MacGill and the Polk, and maybe even a Pulitzer.
They aren’t criminals or aiding and abetting terrorism, she said, they are journalists. A Senate that would confirm her would most definitely not have a Dianne Fiensteinn (or “DiFi” as Radeker called her) on the Senate intelligence committee.
A congress that would support her would not have a Mike Rogers on the intelligence committee. Rogers called for her client Snowden to be assassinated by a drone strike. Snowden, an American citizen, Rogers said, should be killed without due process for his crimes.
Fein said this is the failure of moral leadership when such invertebrates are allowed to roam the halls of government.
Radack, though, maintained that Snowden had no choice. He looked at how Drake tried to go through normal channels, and got nowhere. He looked at how other whistleblowers found themselves in trouble by going through the system.
Snowden decided to release his information to journalists. Let them do the vetting – as opposed to the criticisms leveled on Wikileaks – of which it was said that they released too much without vetting.
While Radack didn’t think that was necessarily true, she did say Snowden was aware of this critique.
Snowden apparently wanted the conversation about the architecture of oppression to stand on its own, to not be distracted by the messenger or the way the news was delivered. Go figure. Let’s have a discussion in the United States about the merits of a controversy.
Let’s have a discussion in this country that isn’t being snooped on by the federal government. And let’s have a federal government that will put people like Jesselyn Radack on the Supreme Court.