GAP National Security & Human Rights Director and Justice Department whistleblower Jesselyn Radack, and GAP client and National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, have won this year's prestigious Sam Adams Award, presented annually by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII). The honor is presented to intelligence professionals who have taken stands for ethics and integrity.
The award will be presented to Radack and Drake at a free event this coming Monday, November 21, at 8:10 p.m. at the Ward Circle Building, Room 2, at American University. Speakers at the ceremony include FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley (a previous winner of the award), retired Col. Larry Wilkerson (another winner), American University Nuclear Studies Institute professor Peter Kuznick, and veteran CIA analyst and activist Ray McGovern.
Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser who disclosed that the FBI committed ethical violations in its interrogation of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, such as interrogating Lindh without an attorney present. She also exposed that the DOJ attempted to suppress that information, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft made misleading public statements about the case. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11. Since her ordeal, Radack has been a champion of whistleblowers, recently serving as counsel to Drake on whistleblower issues during the government's failed attempt to prosecute him under the Espionage Act.
The case of Tom Drake made national headlines this past summer, and the prosecution of him by the DOJ continues to receive widespread coverage. Drake, along with former NSA colleagues William Binney, Ed Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe, and former House Intelligence Committee staffer tasked with oversight of NSA, Diane Roark, attempted to expose massive NSA mismanagement and the agency's use of a data collection program that was more costly, more threatening to American citizens' privacy rights, and less effective than a readily-available alternative. For his actions, Drake's house was raided, and he was subsequently charged under the Espionage Act, facing 35 years in prison. The case against him collapsed in June, when he pled guilty to exceeding authorized use of a government computer – a misdemeanor. The DOJ dropped all 10 felony counts against him, and the judge excoriated DOJ lawyers for their conduct.
Radack and Drake are perfect selections for this award, which is presented by a group of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former CIA intelligence analyst Sam Adams. In 1967, Adams discovered that there were over 500,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong armed guerrilla fighters – twice the number that the U.S. command acknowledged. The Army feared that if Adams' information became public, the war effort would suffer. Adams pressed higher-ups for honesty and accountability, but chose to utilize only inside channels. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, in his first reported leak, provided Adams' data to The New York Times in March 1968. Later, at the trial of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, Adams detailed his belief that political pressure influenced the military to depict the North Vietnamese and Vietcong in 1967 as weaker than they actually were. Adams died of a heart attack in 1988.
The event is sponsored by SAAII and American University's Nuclear Studies Institute.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.