Five of the All-Time Biggest Whistleblowers


Seek not greatness, but seek truth and you will find both.

-Horace Mann

From preventing human beings from being used like laboratory animals to revealing multi-million dollar price fixing, whistleblowers often sacrifice their careers and even their lives to reveal the truth. Here are five prominent whistleblowers:

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg was a Harvard graduate, Marine lieutenant, Pentagon official and researcher for the RAND Corporation. Ellsberg was also a Vietnam War veteran who eventually became an opponent of the war. In 1969, Ellsberg began to copy classified documents known as the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers detailed how four different U.S. administrations lied to Congress, other governmental agencies and the public about the war. Ellsberg gave the documents to the New York Times. He later surrendered to the U.S. Attorney's Office to face charges of theft, conspiracy, and espionage. The charges were eventually dismissed.

Peter Buxtun

The Tuskegee experiment was already a 30-year-long U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) experiment of how syphilis afflicted 400 African-Americans when USPHS investigator Peter Buxtun joined the study. The study's subjects were mostly poor African-Americans who believed that they were receiving medical assistance for their condition. Buxton learned that the USPHS offered no medical assistance at all to the study participants. Buxtun blew the whistle to Associated Press reporter Jean Heller in 1972. He later testified before Congress helping to end the decades-long experiment.

Karen Silkwood

Karen Silkwood was a worker at the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant in Oklahoma. After becoming active in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, Silkwood became in charge of investigating the health and safety of workers at the plant. In her role, Silkwood uncovered major health and safety violations that placed workers at risk. She reported her discoveries to the Atomic Energy Commission with the intention of making her workplace safer. Almost immediately, Silkwood tested positive for massive plutonium exposure, and investigators concluded that her house had been contaminated. Kerr-McGee claimed that Silkwood exposed herself to danger in order to elicit sympathy. She went to The New York Times to reveal her evidence. Silkwood died in a car crash on her way to bring evidence to reporters.

Mark Whiteacre

In 1992, Mark Whitacre was an executive at Archers Daniel Midland, a food industry giant. Whitacre had everything — money, family and a successful career. Within a short time, it all unraveled. Whitacre participated in international schemes with several Agribusiness companies to fix the prices of food additives like lysine and citric acid. Pressured by his wife, Whitacre went to the FBI to reveal the scheme. Whitacre went undercover for the FBI for three years to expose the breadth and depth of the illegal price fixing. At the same time, Whitacre also began embezzling $9 million from the company and ended up in jail.

Deep Throat

For many years, President Richard Nixon’s administration was involved in covert operations, break-ins, and campaign violations. W. Mark Felt was Associate Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and next in line to Director J Edgar Hoover. Felt began giving hints and clues about the President Nixon’s involvement in these misdeeds to Washington Post reporters Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their series of articles were a factor in the subsequent resignation of President Nixon. Some speculate that Felt blew the whistle because he was passed over when Hoover died and he was not named director. Nevertheless, Felt permanently changed the way Americans trusted their President.

Posted in Employee Rights | Tagged biggest whistleblowers, texas whistleblower attorney, whistleblower lawyer

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Whistleblower Law for Managers | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Whistleblower Law for Managers on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.