Famous Whistleblowers in U.S. History You Should Know About

At some point in time, most of us have probably heard the term "whistleblower" somewhere. Throughout U.S. history, individuals who have come forward to report conduct they felt was immoral in government and federal workplaces have been labeled "whistleblowers," and many of them continue to live on in infamy to this very day.

Many whistleblowers were at the center of cases that led to widespread reforms in government policies and workplace reforms. Today, we're covering some of the most famous whistleblowers in U.S. history.

At The Law Office of John P. Mahoney, we can help you with your whistleblower protection case. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (202) 759-7780.

Mark Felt, Watergate

From 1972 to 1974, the Watergate scandal rocked the U.S., eventually leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

On June 17, 1972, five perpetrators were arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Washington, D.C., at the Watergate building. The individuals were found to have money and eavesdropping devices on them.

Two reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, played a key role in the Watergate scandal, reporting that the Nixon administration was responsible for multiple efforts to spy on and sabotage democratic efforts. The evidence the reporters released were largely responsible for the public interest surrounding the case.

Throughout it all, FBI Associate Director Mark Felt - under the code name "Deep Throat" - acted as a whistleblower, providing Woodward and Bernstein with much of the evidence they used in their reporting.

Perry Fellwock, National Security Agency Reveal

For most of us, the whistleblower scandal that immediately comes to mind surrounding the National Security Agency (NSA) is that involving Edward Snowden.

However, long before Snowden's whistleblowing (which we'll get to), in 1972, there was another NSA-related scandal.

Up until that point in time, the NSA was one of the most secret government agencies in the world. Perry Fellwock, a former NSA employee, revealed the existence of the agency and its worldwide covert surveillance network in a magazine interview.

Until Fellwock's reveal, the NSA played a pivotal role in several major geopolitical events and the cold war. After, however, scrutiny surrounding the organization intensified immensely.

Bradley Birkenfeld, Swiss Banking Client Secrecy Erosion

In 2005, Bradley Birkenfeld - an employee at a Swiss bank - learned that his employer was violating an agreement between the UBS and IRS.

Birkenfeld reported his findings to the Department of Justice. Four years later, in 2009, UBS was fined $780 million and forced to release information on tax evaders, almost entirely eroding the client secrecy that made Swiss banks such a prized tax haven for wealthy individuals. Birkenfeld received a $104 million reward from the IRS whistleblower office in recognition of his efforts.

Chelsea Manning, Military Expose

In 2013, U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning gave thousands of military-related documents to Wikileaks, many of which were classified as secret or contained valuable information.

The material, published by organizations such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegal, showcased events such as a July 12, 2007 airstrike enacted by the Army in Baghdad. According to Manning, the information was released to "show the true cost of war."

Although Manning was originally court-martialed and sentenced to serve 35 years in prison, President Barack Obama commuted most of her sentence in 2017, leaving her with only four months left to serve.

Edward Snowden, NSA Surveillance Scandal

In 2013, NSA employee Edward Snowden released a bevy of classified information and documents held by the NSA without authorization, leading to the largest information leak in the history of the organization.

Not only did the information leak reveal a multinational surveillance effort by the NSA that many considered a violation of personal privacy, but it also jeopardized the identities and locations of NSA agents around the world.

Currently, Snowden lives in Russia, having been granted asylum by the Russian government in 2013.

At John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, our team will help you understand the most effective way to progress with your whistleblower case. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (202) 759-7780.

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