Sunday Side Note: Grifting Off Whistleblowers is Still a Sport

OPINION: After being recently exposed for hiding a felony charge and filing false rape allegations against Julian Assange’s former PR representative (promptly after serving a one-year suspended jail sentence, no less), whistleblower attorney, Jesselyn Radack, has been busy tweeting to defamation artist extraordinaire, Jim Stewartson, and fawning over presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. On March 2nd, this happened:

Whether anyone in the whistleblower or WikiLeaks community wants to admit it, and I’m assuming they don’t, Radack’s response to RFK Jr. is a prime example of how she grifts off the names of whistleblowers (and Julian Assange) to boost her own image. Let’s break this down.

Out of the eight people that RFK Jr. mentioned in the two tweets above, four of them have never been represented by Radack: Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling and Reality Winner. She even admitted in her 2018 deposition that she never had contact with Sterling or his attorneys about his case before his sentencing.

Of the four people remaining that he mentioned, Radack admitted in court documents that Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou (and Bill Binney) are all former clients.

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As for Edward Snowden, she admitted in her deposition that she hasn’t spoken with him in years, he hasn’t needed her services for “a long time,” it doesn’t appear that she’s done anything for him legally in ten years, and she’s not representing him in the pending case filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, so you tell me. Is it ethically responsible for a licensed attorney to keep telling everyone someone is their client when they haven’t done shite for them in a decade? Literally, a decade.

That leaves Daniel Hale and, sure, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she’s actively representing him as of today but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go because there’s enough evidence in this article alone to prove she’s still grifting off the names of well-known whistleblowers (and Assange). Here’s another tweet Radack sent RFK Jr.

Fixed it because when you use “so many of my clients” to describe the only two people that are actually your clients (it’s really just one) out of a list of eight that’s some grifty bullshite right there. The thing is, these aren’t the only whistleblowers she’s hijacked.

On March 22, 2017, Radack tweeted that she was honored to represent Said Barodi, a former FBI analyst who was allegedly “fired after he refused to cooperate with customs agents who he believed were targeting him because of his ethnicity and religion.”

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And here’s what she said under oath:

Radack’s idea of representing someone, like repping repping them to the point where she’s boasting about it on Twitter means offering to “weigh in on whistleblower-ish things” with the law firm that’s actually doing the heavy lifting. She literally stated, “[T]hat’s like the limit of our involvement in this case,” and then had no idea what the status of Borandi’s case was.

I’m not suggesting anything inappropriate but is it possible that her former clients made some sort of arrangement with Ms. Radack that allows her to grift off their names which, in turn, puts money in her non-profit’s coffers? Maybe Snowden doesn’t care that she’s been misrepresenting herself to journalists, whistleblowers, and activists.

The Disengagement Letter

There’s also Radack’s habit of not sending out closing letters. Despite calling Kiriakou a “former client” in other court documents, during the deposition she stated that she hasn’t done any work for him in years because “there’s been nothing in John’s case for a long time.” She then went on to admit that she never sent him a closeout letter. 

When asked if she still represented author Peter Van Buren, she responded, “Not actively. I mean, did we never — did I ever do a closeout letter? I don’t think so.”

Not familiar with a closing or disengagement letter? It’s when an attorney sends a letter to a client informing them that their legal representation has ended. Attorneys who don’t send them out have been described as engaging in “passive marketing.” I call it grifting because I couldn’t find a single article that encourages attorneys to keep themselves open to malpractice by not sending one out.

Just last year, the American Bar Association (ABA) published an article entitled, “Ethics: The Power of the Disengagement Letter,” which is ironic in light of the fact that Radack used to work for the Department of Justice’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office and once sat on the D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Committee. The ABA wrote:

[F]ewer lawyers understand the power of a simple letter or email to a client saying our representation is over—the disengagement letter.

We bring you a reminder today of the positive effects of good lawyer hygiene in clearly communicating to a client the end of a representation…

[A] disengagement letter should limit in time the lawyer’s obligations to the client. That means that a client later alleging malpractice based on some continuing obligation to the client can be met with a forceful dispositive motion in the malpractice case.

I’m just a silly “blogger” so maybe Radack can explain why she doesn’t practice good lawyer hygiene.

The Gliz and Glam of Leaking

Maybe the problem is that there’s not enough public ooohs and ahhhs or glitz and glam for attorneys like Radack if their client chooses to go through internal channels first. I now find it sketchy AF that she’s been trotting out former CIA (fill in job title because nobody knows), Thomas Drake, for years as a prime example of why it’s not worth your time going through official channels. Snowden pointed directly at Drake as his inspiration:

“If there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there couldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.” — Snowden

That’s not to say that the system is perfect and it always works in whistleblowers’ favor because obviously that’s not the case. But I’ve certainly never seen Radack up on Capitol Hill trying to help congress write some new legislation that might make a change, either. Rather, she solicits documents from whistleblowers via her non-profit:

Launched by the Institute for Public Accuracy in June 2014, ExposeFacts.org represents a new approach for encouraging whistleblowers to disclose information that citizens need to make truly informed decisions in a democracy. From the outset, our message is clear: ‘Whistleblowers Welcome at ExposeFacts.org. ‘
ExposeFacts.org, 2019

One of our key goals is to bring whistleblowing to the forefront of public consciousness—in a process that widely seeks documentation of official government and corporate actions that cannot withstand the light of day. By openly and clearly facilitating the release of such information, ExposeFacts aims to support and strengthen journalism that is methodical, uncompromising, accurate and truly independent.
— ExposeFacts.org, 2023

To be clear, Radack is a whistleblower attorney who started her own non-profit to solicit documents from whistleblowers two months after she was arrested for a felony. She then made a deal with the prosecutor, was sentenced to a one-year suspended jail sentence, and then filed false rape allegations against Assange’s PR representative.

This makes it all the more interesting that Radack has been trying to discredit attorney Mark Zaid (among host of other people) over the years because Zaid is a well-known whistleblower attorney who advises his clients to go through internal channels before possibly and completely destroying their lives by leaking classified information. And I ask you, “What’s wrong with at least trying?”

It would seem that without a good ol’ public leak you can’t go hard on the grifting and parade “clients” around like circus monkeys. On the other hand, there’s always the chance they won’t have to spend five years in prison over leaking one document.

Part 1 —> Jesselyn Radack: Her Criminal Conviction, One-Year Suspended Jail Sentence and Her “Client” Edward Snowden

Part 2 —> Jesselyn Radack: Her First Criminal Offense, 2018 Deposition and Client Daniel Hale

Part 3 —> Jesselyn Radack: Her Arrest, the 2014 Polk Awards, and Daniel Hale

Part 4 —> How Edward Snowden’s Attorney Jesselyn Radack Conned Everyone Into Believing…

Radack’s 2018 Deposition

Radack Held in Contempt; Sanctioned By Court (PDF)

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