This month, Foreign Policy Magazine named Jesselyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights Director at the Government Accountability Project, one its “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013” for her work “championing the rights of whistleblowers.” The 100 on that list were nominated by “wonks, writers, experts, and policymakers on six continents for nominees” for making a “measurable difference in politics, business, technology, the arts, the sciences, and more.” Foreign Policy provides this summary of the achievements that put Radack on the list.
In 2013, Radack has been a regular on talk shows and op-ed pages, advocating for whistleblower protections and criticizing the unprecedented prosecutions of leakers by the Obama administration. She’s not representing the world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, but she is using her quasi-celebrity to try to shift the media story from details about the former NSA contractor to the specifics and potential impact of the surveillance programs he has revealed. (In October, she visited Snowden in Russia to present him with an “Integrity in Intelligence” award.)
Indeed, Radack has been a fearless spokesperson for whistleblowers, going head-to-head with some of the most aggressive and powerful anti-whistleblower elements in Washington, D.C. At the height of the frenzy over Snowden’s revelations, she seemed to be everywhere, adhering to a grueling schedule despite a simultaneous struggle with multiple sclerosis. On top of that, she produces a steady stream of articles about whistle blowing on a popular blog.
Her spirited advocacy of whistleblowers stems almost certainly from the fact that she, herself, has been a whistleblower. She’s been there: has witnessed the corruption, fought the legal battles, and endured the smears and other retaliation that are routine for government whistleblowers–especially those who hold security clearances. Through the work of advocates like Radack, public opinion of whistleblowers has steadily improved since the bad old days, not so long ago, when many people viewed them as disloyal snitches, influenced by frequently unopposed government and corporate propaganda.
In conclusion, Foreign Policy made a superb choice in naming Jess Radack to its elite group of influential people that also includes NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the journalists who gave him a voice, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras.