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Guernica’s Top 5 Whistleblowers

July 30, 2010

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By **Rebecca Bates**

Last week, Wikileaks released a massive amount of classified documents (92,201, to be exact) about the war in Afghanistan, making founder Julian Assange responsible for the biggest intelligence leak in history. In light of this act of epic whistleblowing, Guernica presents its top five favorite whistleblowers and leak enablers, all of whom have appeared in the magazine in some capacity.

5. Peter Rost was just an anonymous corporate executive at Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, until 2004 when he posted a book review for The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It on Amazon.com. After calling drug companies “their own worst enemy,” he appeared on 60 Minutes as well as before Congress, where he attacked the drug industry claims that buying less expensive pharmaceuticals from other countries was unsafe. He also began filing False Claims suits against Pfizer and Wyeth, making him the drug industry’s biggest whistleblower and ultimately resulting in his termination. He was interviewed for Guernica in 2008.

4. In 2003, John Githongo was appointed as Permanent Secretary for Governance and Ethics by Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki. On February 6, 2005, Githongo appeared at journalist Michela Wrong’s London doorstep, on the run and fearing for his life. In between he had uncovered sketchy procurement deals that turned out to be orchestrated by the Kenyan government itself, including one with a fake British firm called Anglo Leasing. After investigating these shady transactions, Githongo was told to back off and began receiving death threats. He fled to England with secret recordings of corrupt officials that he later made public. In Michela Wrong’s 2009 interview with Guernica she discusses how Githongo’s story reveals the rifts that permeate Kenya today.

3. Wendell Potter is a former CIGNA executive who after seeing Michael Moore’s Sicko was forced to admit, “I knew from my own studies of other healthcare systems that it was an accurate portrayal of those systems and how they are able to provide universal coverage.” Afterward, Potter investigated a free healthcare clinic in rural Virginia, only to find patients waiting be treated in animal stalls or on gurneys lying on rain-soaked pavement. Potter resigned in 2008 and has since become an active advocate for healthcare reform.

2. Nearly forty years ago, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, thereby exposing the government’s deception in reporting facts on the Vietnam War. In his interview published in January in Guernica, Ellsberg discusses his early involvement in Vietnam and Nixon’s motivation for prolonging the war.

1. Guernica’s involvement with Julian Assange began in 2007 when he contacted a Guernica editor seeking collaboration on Wikileaks, as well as nominations for whistleblowers. By the following year, Guernica was crossposting leaks from the site, including one post that exposed the use of chemical weapons in Iraq. On July 25, Assange leaked over ninety thousand classified diplomatic documents sent to him by Bradley Manning, a twenty-two year-old intelligence analyst who was arrested in May for downloading and sharing the files after being reported by ex-hacker-turned-journalist Adrian Lamo.

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Rebecca Bates is the blog intern at Guernica.

To read Guernica‘s top five on Latinos in the U.S. countdown, click HERE .

To read more blog entries by GUERNICA click HERE .

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