Whistleblower Aid’s Story

We were inspired to found Whistleblower Aid because of our love for our country — and our own firsthand experiences. We know the challenges that whistleblowers face.

Founder & Executive Director

John Napier Tye

Mr. Tye graduated from Duke University Summa Cum Laude, the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School. Mr. Tye has worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Avaaz, and also Southeast Louisiana Legal Services as a Skadden Fellow. He was on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

Before he founded Whistleblower Aid, John N. Tye was a whistleblower.

From 2011 - 2014, Mr. Tye worked as Internet Freedom Section Chief at the U.S. Department of State, where he held a security clearance to receive Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented (TS/SCI) information. During a classified briefing, he learned that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was using Executive Order 12333 as a legal loophole to collect, store and search Americans’ emails, phone calls and online communications without a warrant or any suspicion.

Instead of contacting a reporter or Wikileaks, Mr. Tye paid two lawyers, including Mark S. Zaid, a total of $13,000 to help him navigate the lawful reporting process. With his attorneys, he met with the Inspectors General of the State Department and the NSA, the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He also gave a public statement to the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

With the advice of counsel, he was able to publicize his allegations in a completely legal way. Following the government’s pre-publication review process, Mr. Tye published an article for the Washington Post. His complaint was covered by the New York Times, The Guardian, Vice, Ars Technica, and Wikipedia. He also gave a TEDx talk on the issue.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence “commend[ed]” Mr. Tye for using the legal reporting process to raise concerns while protecting classified information. Mr. Tye was named one of the “National Security Law Heroes of 2014” by Just Security Blog.

Mr. Tye remains bound by his obligation to protect classified information that he learned during his government service — and also by his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

As Whistleblower Aid’s executive director, Mr. Tye is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Louisiana.

Mr. Tye graduated from Duke University Summa Cum Laude, the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School. Mr. Tye has worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Avaaz, and also Southeast Louisiana Legal Services as a Skadden Fellow. He was on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.

Founding Partner

Mark S. Zaid

Mr. Zaid graduated from the University of Rochester Cum Laude and Albany Law School of the Union University of New York. He served as an Associate Editor of the Albany Law Review and currently serves as a member of the school's Board of Trustees. Mr. Zaid currently possesses TS/SCI eligibility and has had Q level access.

Mr. Zaid has worked for over 20 years representing federal workers in cases involving classified information, including whistleblowing, criminal prosecutions, and security clearance disputes. He teaches the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education classes on “The Basics of Filing and Litigating Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Requests” (since 2003), “Defending Security Clearances” (since 2006) and “Handling Whistleblower Cases: More Than the Basics” (since 2016).

Since 2009, Mr. Zaid has been named both a Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer every year (including being profiled) and a “Best Lawyer” in Washingtonian Magazine’s bi-annual designation for his national security work. As the National Law Journal once wrote, “if Agent Mulder ever needed a lawyer, Zaid would be his man.”

Mr. Zaid is the Executive Director and founder of the James Madison Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing. Additionally, Mr. Zaid is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Global Security Studies program where he teaches on national security issues.

Mr. Zaid is admitted to practice law in the states of Maryland, New York, Connecticut and the District of Columbia, as well as various federal courts.

Mr. Zaid graduated from the University of Rochester Cum Laude and Albany Law School of the Union University of New York. He served as an Associate Editor of the Albany Law Review and currently serves as a member of the school's Board of Trustees. Mr. Zaid currently possesses TS/SCI eligibility and has Q level access.

Other Whistleblower Aid staff attorneys and co-counsel are admitted to practice law in Virginia. For security reasons, we are not including their names here.