Could Edward Snowden's Have Gone Through Those "Proper Channels" We're Always Hearing About?

Q&A with Jesselyn Radack, Snowden's attorney.


"Edward Snowden's Lawyer on the Government's War on Whistleblowers," written by Amanda Winkler & Nick Gillespie and filmed by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. About 13 minutes.

Original release date was October 22, 2015. Writeup below:

During the first Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton denounced Edward Snowden as a criminal who simply refused to work through official channels. "He broke the laws," said Clinton. "He could have been a whistleblower, he could have gotten all the protections of being a whistleblower." 

Would Edward Snowden be better off had he gone through official channels to blow the whistle?

No way, says his lawyer, Jesselyn Radack of

In an interview with Nick Gillespie, she points to intelligence whistleblowers who came before Snowden as evidence that her client would not have been provided legal protections. "Tom Drake, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Ed Loomis did go through the proper channels," she tells Reason TV, "and all of them fell under criminal investigations for having done so."

"For the people out there shouting that Edward Snowden should have gone through proper channels," she continues, "there aren't that many channels for national security and intelligence whistleblowers. They are excluded from most avenues available to other whistleblowers."

And when they do expose ugly, sometimes-unconstitutional behavior on the part of the government, the whistleblowers are more likely than not to be the ones hauled into interrogation rooms. 

Radack discusses Snowden's future, why she left the Justice Department to defend whistleblowers, how the U.S. government is waging a war on information, and the rising tide of whistleblowing about the military use of drones.

Related video: Reason TV's interview with William Binney, the NSA whistleblower known as "Edward Snowden 1.0."