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Snowden Lawyer Discusses Whistleblowing in Panel

By M. Hanl Park, Contributing Writer

UPDATED: April 1, 2015, at 3:30 a.m.

At a panel Tuesday afternoon in Boylston Hall, Jesselyn A. Radack and Walt L. Tamosaitis shared their experiences as whistleblowers and pointed to exposing institutional misconduct as an important method for confronting injustice.

A former worker at the Department of Justice Ethics Office, Radack is now the national security and human rights director for the Government Accountability Project and an attorney who counts National Security Agency whistleblowers Edward J. Snowden and Thomas Drake among her clients. She became known as a whistleblower in 2002 for her disclosure of what she called an ethics violation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s interrogation of John Walker Lindh, which occurred without an attorney present.

“For me, it wasn’t about John Walker Lindh, per se, I wasn’t his lawyer, but it was about the fact that we’re the Justice Department and we can’t cheat,” Radack said.

Tamosaitis, who worked as a systems engineer for a Bechtel subcontractor on the Hanford Nuclear Site, became known for speaking out against his company when he raised safety concerns about the construction of the site.

Both Radack and Tamosaitis said that, in their experiences, becoming a whistleblower was not so much a conscious decision as it was a result of their frustration with perceived injustices in their workplaces.

In an interview before the event, Center for Public Interest Careers director Travis A. Lovett said that his group, which sponsored the event, has put together various seminars on topics relevant to public service careers but that whistleblowing was an area that the center had never before discussed in a public forum.

“We thought that this, from the professional development standpoint, is something worth highlighting for students, that they might not be getting from the classroom,” Lovett said.

The panel was part of the “American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability” sponsored by the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection agency. At Harvard, the panel was co-sponsored by Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Center for Public Interest Careers. The moderator of the panel was Dana Gold, tour director of the GAP’s American Whistleblower Campaign.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 1, 2015, at 3:29 a.m.

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the National Security Agency.

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