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I feel like I'm reading about myself in Michael Isikoff's Newsweek piece on "The Fed Who Blew the Whistle."  At least now Isikoff recognizes what whistleblowing is, and the price a source pays for it.  

After all, when I revealed the Justice Department's ethical misconduct in the case of the so-called "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh, I did so by disclosing it to . . . Michael Isikoff.  I disclosed anonymously, but he put the full text of the documents (which included my name) on Newsweek's website.

Back then, I don't think Isikoff realized that revealing my name would unleash the full force of the entire Executive Branch: criminal investigation, blacklisting, bar refrrals, the "No-Fly List," etc.  But I don't think he cared until the government obtained copies of Isikoff's phone calls to me.  I'm glad to see that he has learned.

I can identify with whistleblower Thomas M. Tamm, the subject of Isikoff's article.  He has a "passion for justice" and "felt duty-bound to reveal" the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program that was eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.

"For weeks, Tamm couldn't sleep.  The idea of lawlessness at the Justice Department angered him."  That's how I felt when I found out that evidence (e-mails I had written) in the John Walker Lindh case had "disappeared" from the file and not been turned over to the court.  After all, the Justice Department was simultaneously prosecuting Enron and Arthur Anderson for destruction of documents and obstruction of justice.

Tamm "picked up the phone and called The New York Times."  I picked up the phone and called Mike Isikoff of Newsweek.  A judicially-authorized way to blow the whistle is via disclosures to the media.

In Tamm's case, "Federal agents launched a criminal investigation to determine the identity of the culprit."  The same thing happened in my case.  He was pursued relentlessly for years.  Ditto.  Agents grilled his friends.  Check.  Tamm struggled to make a living practicing law, was $30,000 in debt, set up a legal defense fund, was called "treasonous" (I was called a "traitor," "turncoat" and "terrorist sympathizer"), and had not thought through what this could do to his family . . .because no one expects this kind of retaliation for trying to right a wrong.  For trying to expose a crime.

Frances Fragos Townsend, one of President Bush's chief counterterrorism advisors said,

There are legal processes in place [for whistle-blowers' complaints.]

Here's a news flash: they don't work.  

UPDATE: Yes, it has been pointed out to me that Tamm and I both went to Brown University and both joined the Justice Department under Reno.

Originally posted to Jesselyn Radack on Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 07:05 AM PST.

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