GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack released a memoir in February 2012 entitled Traitor: The Whistleblower and the "American Taliban."
With this book, Radack – the Department of Justice (DOJ) whistleblower who exposed violations in the federal government's handling of the case against "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh – details her experience blowing the whistle on Bush administration officials' wrongdoing, the subsequent and significant retaliation against her for doing so, and how she used her experiences to later guide other high-profile whistleblowers.
Praise for the book has been overwhelmingly positive. Daniel Ellsberg, the pioneer of modern-day whistleblowing, provided this inspiring review of the book:
There's simply no better first-person book about whistleblowing. It illustrates dramatically both the risks of conscientious truth-telling – fully experienced by Jesselyn, a horror story greatly to the discredit of the government – and the compelling need for indomitable whistleblowers like her.
Noted New York Times bestselling author Glenn Greenwald wrote the book's foreword:
[Jesselyn's] sobering book should be required reading for all first-year law students because it shows poignantly how "national security" is being used to fundamentally bastardize constitutional law, criminal procedure, human rights, civil liberties and legal ethics.
About the Book & Radack Experiences
In 2002, Radack disclosed that the FBI committed ethical violations in its interrogation of Lindh, such as interrogating him without an attorney present. She also exposed that the DOJ attempted to suppress that information, and that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other senior government officials made misleading public statements about the case.
Of course, the scary thing is that Radack is one of the more successful whistleblowers of recent times, having achieved more than most could hope for. But her book details the ups-and-downs she experienced in working with the media, the subsequent retaliation from her supervisors and other DOJ officials (not only while at the DOJ, but after leaving to work for a private employer), and how she found support from politicians, nonprofits, and family.
Traitor illustrates just how long retaliation against whistleblowers can last (often for years, even decades). In Radack's case, she was put on the No-Fly "Selectee" List from 2003 through 2009, always being forced to go through extra, unjustified, completely unnecessary security measures (at one point, she was even asked to drink her own breast milk by a TSA agent).
Today's Urgent Relevancy
Importantly, Radack explains how she was able to apply the lessons she learned during her ordeal to help future whistleblowers – most notably National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Tom Drake, one of six individuals charged by the Obama administration with violating the Espionage Act for whistleblowing-related disclosures. These six Espionage Act prosecutions against truth-tellers are more than all other administrations combined (tellingly, Daniel Ellsberg was the first ever). With many of these cases coming to a head soon, the book is simply a must-read for anyone concerned about this clear over-reach by the Obama administration in what has been dubbed its "War on Whistleblowers."
The treatment of Lindh was, as Radack writes, the "harbinger" for the Bush administration policy on state-sponsored torture (as Lindh was, among other actions, strapped to a board naked and blindfolded). Essentially, Radack was the first voice in the darkness (as whistleblowers usually are) to raise alarms that something was very wrong and unlawful with Bush administration foreign policy. Her experience personifies how difficult it can be to go against the federal status quo – especially when dealing with such difficult subjects that demand proper and thorough oversight.
Today, Radack is one of the leading champions of whistleblowers and their rights. She has taken a horrific experience and turned it into a breathtakingly successful effort to inspire goodness and help others who walk down the shady road she has.