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6 Most Popular Whistleblowers in America’s History

Do you know any popular whistleblowers?

The term “whistleblower” refers to those who come forward with evidence of misconduct or fraud. They are considered heroes by many due to the fact that they don’t have a problem putting their careers and lives on hold as long as they help different domains and organizations become better places without corruption.

The False Claims Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Whistleblowers who have the courage to say that something is wrong and come forward with proof of wrongdoing could be eligible for a financial reward equal to a portion of any money that is recovered thanks to the evidence.

In 2006, a new law was passed to protect people who report suspected violations of the Internal Revenue Code, such as underpayments or other types of fraud.

The majority of the time, these people are the only ones who try to make a big difference in the face of massive political and economic power or against those who prefer to have a free and easy way to wealth and influence without caring about morality.

On the other hand, there are also people who assume that whistleblowers are traitors or disloyal. Even though those who are powerful and wealthy are more likely to feel like they have all the cards, sometimes the story doesn’t end there. Whistleblowers are the ace in the hole for the common people, and we should be thankful to them.

With that being said, here are the most popular leakers in our country’s history! Let’s take a look!

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1. Mark Felt

Mark Felt was an American law enforcement officer who worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for 31 years, from 1942 to 1973. The thing that made him extremely popular in the world of politics was the Watergate scandal.

He has used the pseudonym “Deep Throat” since 2005 and was the FBI’s Associate Director who flipped to become an informant and aid in the overthrow of the Nixon administration. His role in the Watergate scandal was so important that he was the inspiration behind a film named “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”

The movie brought him even more popularity postmortem, and many believe that he is still one of the most important whistleblowers of all time, whose effects might be seen in contemporary American politics.

Mark Felt was the one who decided to take control of the investigation when 5 men broke into the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel in 1972. He wanted to find out if the White House had any hand in the huge scandal.

For sure, when something big is about to impact a lot of people, higher-ups will definitely tell you to keep out of trouble and stay quiet. However, Felt didn’t care about the repercussions, and he believed that the only way he was able to reveal the White House’s involvement in the scandal was by talking to the press.

Deep Throat, as he was known, met often with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post to provide information that led to Nixon’s resignation.

2. Edward Snowden

You already know that we live in a world where we have technology at our fingertips and information is extremely accessible to the majority of us. Speaking of technological improvement, one of its developing results is the beginning of a new era of whistleblowing.

Those who want to make the world a better place and put an end to corruption and unethical things, including hackers and whistleblowers, might find it extremely easy to get access to sensitive data and classified information. That’s because of the abundance of data stored and sent over digital networks.

This is the case of Edward Snowden, a brilliant IT specialist, a man who worked for the CIA and also as a government contractor for the United States. While he was working, he became more aware of the breadth of the NSA’s monitoring operation, which he found sinister and alarming, to say the least.

He decided to know more about that and copied an impressive amount of data that contained details regarding their surveillance techniques. He claimed that the reason he did it was that he wanted to inform the population about the things that the officials know about them and the way they use their surveillance program.

The United States didn’t agree with Snowden, and they said that the things he’s done are illegal and very dangerous. In 2013, the US canceled his passport, and the Department of Justice unsealed charges against him for 2 counts of breaking the Espionage Act of 1917. However, he managed to find a home and received Russian citizenship in 2022.

3. John Schilling

One of the reimbursement supervisors at Columbia Healthcare, John Schilling, and 4 of his coworkers decided to press Financial Crimes Act (FCA) charges against their bosses and accountant, KPMG Peat Marwick. They did it because they noticed dishonest practices, including 2 books to deceive Medicare.

Columbia paid $840 million without admitting any guilt, while KPMG paid $9 million. None of them admitted or denied wrongdoing in the settlements. Moreover, the whistleblowers and their legal representatives received approximately $220 million for their work.

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4. Harry Markopolos

Bernard “Bernie” Madoff was the well-known non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange. He used one of the largest Ponzi scams in history and tricked thousands of investors, charity groups, retirees, and Hollywood celebrities into investing and actually losing their money. He actually managed to cheat them out of a total of close to $65 billion.

He tricked those people and managed to keep the business going for more than a decade by paying early investors with the money he received from the latest ones. However, the fact that he always had money and huge financial gains made fund manager Harry Markopolos highly suspicious.

Markopolos tried to warn others about Madoff for years before the scheme was revealed, but he was disregarded each time. He decided to do more research and prove to everyone that Bernie was indeed guilty of fraud. Soon enough, he found inconsistencies in Madoff’s plan and realized that repeatable profits were unrealistic.

There was some truth to his assessment that Madoff’s returns were too wonderful to be true. 8 years after Markopolos’ first warning to the SEC in May 2000, the fraud was finally found, and Bernie received the punishment that he deserves. He died of natural causes on April 14, 2021, while imprisoned at the Federal Medical Center, near Butner, North Carolina.

5. Cheryl Eckard

Large pharmaceutical corporations can face legal difficulty but can frequently avoid criminal prosecution by settling out of court for impressive amounts of money without admitting guilt. The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is a prime example of this kind of wrongdoing.

Cheryl Eckard is a woman who worked for almost a decade at the GlaxoSmithKline company until she became a whistleblower and ended her career. She first observed problems in production at one of the company’s factories in 2003 and spoke out against them. In 2002, after years and years of dispute and controversy, Glaxo paid $94 million to avoid civil litigation.

Chelsea Manning whistleblower
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6. Chelsea Manning

…People think that this scandal is the most important leak of secret information in U.S. history. 

In 2010, while she was on a work mission in Iraq, a woman named Chelsea Manning, who was an army intelligence analyst, leaked thousands of pages of classified military papers to a website called WikiLeaks.

The leaks also included recordings of an attack on Baghdad on July 12, 2007, and an airstrike in Afghanistan in 2009, as well as a diplomatic cable from the United States and Army reports that became known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary.

When she was asked by the official her motive for doing those things, she said that she wanted to show the whole world the real costs of war.

The documents were released by WikiLeaks and its media partners, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, between April 2010 and April 2011. Once the information became public, the press all over the world wanted to know more about this huge scandal that shook the political world.

In July 2013, a court-martial found Chelsea Manning guilty, and she was given a 35-year sentence, but in January 2017, President Barack Obama commuted all but 4 months of her sentence.

…If you want to read more about things that shaped our country’s history, we recommend this article: 9 Interesting Facts About Native American Tribes!


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