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“Poetic justice” is what a former U.S. Department of Justice ethics attorney calls her appointment to the District of Columbia Bar’s legal ethics committee while a disciplinary complaint has been pending against her with the D.C. bar. And some poetic justice may go a long way for whistleblower Jesselyn A. Radack, who was the subject of a Justice Department complaint before the D.C. Bar’s Office of Bar Counsel when she was named in June, 2005 to the committee that advises the bar on the rules of professional conduct. Radack is the former Justice Department ethics advisor in the case of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh who quit her government job, lost a private-sector position and was the subject of a criminal investigation, all involving the Lindh case. Saying that she leaked information to the press, the Justice Department referred Radack to the state bars where she is licensed-and was even put on the federal “no-fly” list. “Because of this episode, I am dedicating my life to whistleblowers,” said Radack, who started work last May at Grayson & Kubli, a private practice in McLean, Va., that handles government contracts, telecommunications and whistleblower law. She also decided not to pursue the action she filed against DOJ that a federal judge in Washington recently dismissed. [NLJ, Aug. 28]. “I’m in a new job and ready to let go of it,” Radack said. “It was empowering to put them on the defensive for once and finally get my version of the events down in a public forum.” Radack claims that she was pushed out of her job as general counsel to DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility for not playing along with her superiors after federal law enforcement officials disregarded her advice on handling Lindh, dubbed the “American Taliban” when he was captured in Afghanistan. U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. recently found that DOJ did not violate its own policy when it sent referral letters to the Maryland and D.C. bars. Radack v. U.S. DOJ, No. 04-1881 (D.D.C.). Actions ‘really scary’ But Radack quoted a footnote in Kennedy’s opinion in which he wrote: “It is clear, though, that she has sustained injury in the form of a damaged reputation and reduced employment prospects.” “The scope and breadth of what they are doing is really scary,” she said, adding that the outcome of her lawsuit implies that the government “can go after you if it can show that something you did in the private sector that it didn’t like relates back to something you did when you were working for them.” Charles S. Miller, spokesman for DOJ, said that the department would say with regard to Radack only that “We’re pleased with the court’s decision.” Radack lost her civilian job in the Washington office of New York’s Hawkins Delafield & Wood after she gave a Newsweek reporter copies of legal memoranda that she had written on the Lindh matter once she suspected that they had disappeared from the file. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, presiding over the Lindh case, ordered a three-week investigation into how Newsweek got material that had been filed with the court under seal. Radack claims that the DOJ used Ellis’ order as a pretext to get her fired from Hawkins Delafield, place her under criminal investigation, help Hawkins Delafield contest the unemployment compensation she sought, refer her to the state bars where she is licensed and put her on the “no-fly” list. The “no fly list” identifies people suspected of posing “a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety.” It is maintained by the Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security, which the Justice Department oversees. But time-and Radack-have moved on. The criminal matter was closed without charges being brought, the Maryland bar complaint was dismissed and she is working again. While her ethics committee appointment will have no bearing on the Office of Bar Counsel’s handling of her case, she is nonetheless pleased for the vote of confidence. “I have lived to fight another day, but it will be other people’s fights,” she said.

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