Whistleblowers are usually ordinary people, often longstanding employees and experts in their field, who take huge professional and personal risks to blow the whistle on corporate and governmental wrongdoing. They are often a lesser-known but vitally important part of government and industry regulatory and advisory systems. They are generally harassed, vilified, and fired or forced to resign.
The Government Accountability Project's definition of whistleblowers:
- Every year, thousands of Americans witness wrongdoing on the job. These workers discover waste, fraud, abuse or malfeasance that could jeopardize the lives of others, or well-being of the public. They may see food processing plants sending contaminated and dangerous meat to consumers, nuclear facilities in gross violations of safety protocols, a chemical company dump hazardous waste into rivers unlawfully, or accounting fraud that deceives thousands of stockholders.
Most employees remain silent, typically out of fear of losing their positions. Others choose to risk their professional (and personal) well-being and come forward with the truth. They seek to make a difference by “blowing the whistle” on unethical conduct in the workplace.
Our composite definition of whistleblower taken from combined state, federal and international cases is:
- An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
A list of whistleblowers (alphabetically ordered)
Related SourceWatch resources
- Bush administration and torture
- Freedom of Information/A Guide For Whistleblowers
- Government Accountability Project
- Office of Special Counsel
- U.S. federal oil and gas royalties
- Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007
- John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995).
- Ron Suskind with Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty (Simon and Schuster, 2004).
- Joseph Wilson, The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Exposed My Wife's CIA Identity--A Diplomat's Memoir (Carroll & Graf, 2004)
- "Wanttoknow.info" - A compilation of Cover-up News Articles on many subjects by independent research team led by former Presidential Interpreter Fred Burks
- Susan Montoya Bryan, "Forest Service fires official who complained about pesticide use," Associated Press, October 6, 2005.
- Marwan Bishara, Information wars: How will governments deal with the information revolution?, Al Jazeera, 29 March 2011.
- Whistleblower Action Network 
- National Whistleblower Center 
- Government Accountability Project: A Timeline of Whistleblowers (Accessed: 3 January 2012)