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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/21/11

Justice Department Leakers of Classified Info. Get a Pass

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Message Jesselyn Radack
by Jesselyn Radack [Subscribe] Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 08:10:52 AM EST

Posted at The Daily Kos.

Three months ago, journalist Michael Isikoff noted the disturbing "Double Standard" in White House Leak Inquiries.  But now it's not just the Executive Branch.  Josh Gerstein of Politico just published an article on how a judge ruled that the Justice Department can keep secret names of its own lawyers who leak classified information.

It is indisputable that the Obama, via the Holder Justice Department, has brought more "leak" prosecutions than any presidential Administration, ever.

To add hypocrisy to the injury of selective and malicious prosecutions of Shamai Liebowitz, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling--the Justice Department's own attorneys are immune from the "war on leaks."

U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney ruled last week that the Justice Department does not have to disclose the identities of two lawyers who were found by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to have intentionally disclosed classified information to the media in 1996.  

This is rank hypocrisy and the putrid stench is overwhelming.

The Justice Department's vicious war on leaks does not extend to its own lawyers who did exactly--or worse than--what Drake and the others allegedly did. (To highlight the injustice here, Drake never leaked classified information to a reporter and is not actually charged with leaking classified information.)

Could this hypocrisy be because the two Justice Department lawyers are an assistant director in charge at the FBI and an AUSA detailed to serve as the acting head of a DOJ component?  When I was an ethics attorney at the Justice Department, I leaked UNCLASSIFIED information evidencing serious government misconduct in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and was rewarded with, among other things, criminal investigation, referral to the state bars in which I'm licensed (still pending 8 years later in DC), and placement on the "No-Fly List."  

"Oh, but that was under Bush," people used to tell me.  "It will get better when Obama is in office."  Well, here's a news flash: it has gotten worse.  While Bush harassed whistleblowers unmercifully, Obama is trying to put them in jail.

DOJ is incapable of handling attorney misconduct.  In a transparent attempt to feign the illusion that it is willing to police itself, this week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of a Professional Misconduct Review Unit to rule on certain attorney discipline cases arising from OPR.

This new office is completely redundant.  According to the Justice Department's website, OPR's mission is

to investigat[e] allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys that relate to the exercise of their authority to . . . provide legal advice.

But, as evidenced most vividly by its totally unorthodox investigation of the authors of the infamous "torture memos," it allowed the targets of the investigation to review and soften the report against them, and they faced no disciplinary action whatsoever. As further evidence of how this new office will be even more anemic than OPR, Holder has appointed his chief of staff to run it.

Contrary to OPR's own policies, it hastily and vindictively forwarded my case to the state bars in which I'm licensed absent a finding of "professional misconduct," much less a finding of "intentional misconduct or reckless disregard of an applicable standard or obligation"--the benchmark that OPR uses.  Instead, OPR referred me to the bar disciplinary authorities for "possible misconduct." The "intentional misconduct or reckless disregard" standards are exactly what the NEW ethics office is tasked with enforcing.

Although the Maryland Bar dismissed the charges against me in 2005, my referral to the D.C. Bar (the same Bar to which torture architects Yoo and Bybee would have been referred) is still pending after eight years.  

Torture lawyers get a pass.  The mystery FBI assistant director and DOJ component head get a pass.  But I got slammed for blowing the whistle.  And now the Justice Department is prosecuting Drake for the same reason: he revealed illegalities and gross waste by NSA.  And Stephen Kim (who revealed information that it was indisputably in the public's interest to know--North Korea was going to set off a test nuclear bomb.) And Shamai Liebowitz, who said during his sentencing that he felt he was witnessing illegal conduct.

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My name is Jesselyn Radack and I am the former Justice Department ethics attorney and whistleblower in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. In today's issue of The National Law Journal (Feb. 19, 2007), I have an Op-Ed entitled (more...)
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