Notable whistles blown
Vietnam War: Daniel Ellsberg, along with Anthony Russo, leaked Pentagon Papers in 1971 to The New York Times, which revealed endemic practices of deception by previous administrations and contributed to the erosion of public support for the war.
Watergate: In 1972, W. Mark Felt, known only as Deep Throat until 2005, leaked information about US president Richard Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, the scandal which eventually led to the resignation of the president and prison terms for White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and presidential adviser John Ehrlichman.
Israeli nuclear weapons: In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu revealed Israel’s clandestine nuclear program to the British press, which resulted in him serving 17 years in prison, the first 11 of these in solitary confinement. At present, he is appealing a further six-month prison sentence imposed by an Israeli court for having spoken to foreigners and foreign press.
CIA drug cartel: Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance was a 20,000-word investigative series in 1996 that alleged Nicaraguan drug traffickers had sold and distributed crack cocaine in Los Angeles during the 1980s, and that drug profits were used to fund the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras. In 2004, Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which was deemed suicide.
Worldcom and Enron: Cynthia Cooper exposed Worldcom’s corporate financial scandal and Sherron Watkins exposed Enron’s corporate financial scandal. They were jointly named Time’s People of the Year in 2002.
Abu Ghraib abuse: Joe Darby first alerted the US military command of prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004.
WikiLeaks: With more than 1.2 million individual leaks to date, Julian Assange is founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks and the Sunshine Press. The Cablegate leaks are believed to be the main cause of the Tunisian revolution, leading to other revolutions in the Middle East.