Mark Zaid

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Mark Zaid
Personal details
Political party Independent
Education University of Rochester (BA)
Albany Law School (JD)

Mark S. Zaid is an American attorney, based out of Washington D.C., with a practice focused on national security law, free speech constitutional claims, and government accountability.[1]

In 1998 he founded the James Madison Project, an organization dedicated to reducing government secrecy.[2] It is interested in the Freedom of Information Act and government whistleblowers. He is co-editor of Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws.[3] He is a cofounder of the nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid.[4]


Zaid is a 1989 graduate of the University of Rochester, and a 1992 graduate of Albany Law School of Union University in New York, where he served as an associate editor of the Albany Law Review.[5]

While a student at Albany Law School, Zaid interned in the office of New York Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine.


Zaid practices in litigation and lobbying on matters relating to national security, federal employment, foreign sovereign and diplomatic immunity, international transactions, international torts and crimes, defamation, the Constitution (First and Fifth Amendments), and the Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (FOI/PA).[6] He practices at Compass Rose Legal Group.[7]

Through his practice, Zaid often represents former or current federal employees, intelligence officers, and whistleblowers who have grievances against agencies of the United States government or foreign governments. Additionally, he represents members of the media and the public in First Amendment and FOI/PA disputes. He has handled national security matters including security clearance revocations/denials, IG investigations, and other employment issues throughout the national security and military communities. He currently teaches the D.C. Bar CLE courses on FOIA and security clearances.[8][9] He also teaches as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University.[5]

Some of his cases are well known, such as suing Libya for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 which resulted in a $2.7 billion settlement, the largest of its kind against a foreign government for terrorist activities,[10][11] and obtaining a court-ordered injunction in 2004 that effectively shut down the Department of Defense's mandatory anthrax vaccination program for two years.[12][13]

Zaid has been quoted in print and online news reports as an expert in national security law and FOIA law.[14][15][16] He has appeared as a commentator on CNN[17] and MSNBC.[18]

As of October 2019 he is one of a team of lawyers advising the whistleblower whose complaint against President Donald Trump sparked a major political scandal and led to the launching of an impeachment inquiry against the president. Zaid had been critical of Trump long before he began representing the whistleblower. In 2017 Zaid stated on social media that a "coup has started" against Trump, with the president facing a “rebellion” that would eventually lead to "impeachment".[19] He said the team is also working with a second whistleblower who has spoken with authorities but has not filed a formal complaint as of October 6.[7]

Whistleblower Aid

In September 2017, Zaid and former U.S. State Department whistleblower John Tye co-founded Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm. Initially focused on employees and contractors of the U.S. federal government, Whistleblower Aid emphasizes it is not WikiLeaks. "No one should ever send classified information to Whistleblower Aid," the firm states. "Whistleblower Aid will never assist clients or prospective clients with leaking classified information." Instead, would-be whistleblowers with classified information will be directed to investigators with security clearances to help expose wrongdoing without breaking the law or incurring criminal liability.[4][20] "We are trying to hold the U.S. government accountable," Zaid explained, "and provide free legal services to whistleblowers so they don't ruin their careers in the process or be prosecuted."[21] Clients will not be charged. To cover expenses, the firm solicits donations from foundations and crowdsource funding.[4]

See also


  1. Real Clear Politics website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  2. "James Madison Project".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Center, Electronic Privacy Information (September 26, 2008). Hammitt, Harry A.; Rotenberg, Marc; Verdi, John A.; Zaid, Mark S., eds. "Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2008". Electronic Privacy Information Center – via Amazon.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Morello, Carol (September 18, 2017). "Former whistleblower starts legal aid group to guide would-be tipsters". The Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Official Mark Zaid website biography. Accessed October 6, 2019.
  6. Sr., Joseph P. Chakalis,. "Rochester Review • University of Rochester".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Allyn, Bobby (October 6, 2019). "Second Whistleblower With Direct Knowledge Of Ukraine Call Steps Forward, Lawyer Says". NPR. Retrieved October 6, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel - The Leading Source For In-House Counsel".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "District of Columbia Bar - Page not found".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Global Focus: CHAT ABOUT THE LOCKERBIE BOMBING". Archived from the original on August 4, 2008. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Libya, Families of Victims of Pan Am 103 Bombing Agree on $2.7B Compensation Fund". August 14, 2003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Judge Halts Mandatory Anthrax Vaccination For Military". Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Kara Scanell, "SEC Gets FOIA Foil in Financial Law: Regulatory Revamp Gives Agency Greater Rein to Deny Document Requests; 'Is That a Good Thing?'." Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2010. Found at WSJ online. Cited at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "Freedom of information: Debate continues over scope of SEC FOIA exemption," August 4, 2010, found at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press website. Both accessed August 6, 2010.
  15. Andrea Stone, "WikiLeaks Diaries Raise Question: Is Secrecy Dead?" AOL News, July 26, 2010. Found at AOL News website 29, 2010/ Archived July 29, 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed August 6, 2010.
  16. Chalfant, Morgan (July 23, 2018). "Trump mulls move against intel critics". The Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. CNN website.
  18. See MSNBC website and MSNBC website.
  19. Dibble, Madison (November 6, 2019). "Whistleblower's attorney warned Trump a 'coup is coming' in 2017 tweets". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 7 November 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Former whistleblower starts legal aid group to guide would-be tipsters". Whistleblower Aid. Retrieved September 19, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Want to leak on Trump? A D.C. lawyer will represent you for free". The Outline. Retrieved September 20, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links